Friday, June 24, 2011

Word Play with Word Clouds: Redmond, Jabberwocky, and Green Eggs and Ham

Word clouds, popular as Web navigation aids, can now be easily created for your own custom visual designs using a new generation of free Web tools. The most popular word cloud design tools are: Tagxedo, Wordle, Wordlings, and Tagul

Tagxedo turns words — famous speeches, news articles, even your resume — into a visual word cloud. A word cloud (or tag cloud) displays words that are individually sized to represent the importance or frequency of occurrence within a body of text.

Here’s a word cloud that uses part of the text of the Wikipedia entry for the City of Redmond. As you might expect, “Redmond” is the most prominent word. You can set options to ignore common words, such as “the” or “a”.

Redmond Wikipedia word cloud (click for larger image)

Here are the words of the Lewis Carroll poem, Jabberwocky, overlaid onto an image of a dragon. With Tagxedo, you can use standard images to contain your text, or upload your own image files.

Jabberwocky word cloud (click for larger image)

Wordle is a Java-based word cloud generator, in which all words have equal weighting. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. Here’s a word cloud based on all the words in the text of the children’s book, Green Eggs and Ham.Green Eggs and Ham word cloud (click for larger image)Green Eggs and Ham, written by Dr. Seuss, contains a vocabulary of only 50 different words, which is far less than the more chatty The Cat in the Hat, which uses 225 words.

Wordlings is the simplest of the word cloud generators. Just enter a line of text and your word cloud starts forming, by repeating the words of your text.

Books word cloud (click for larger image)

Tagul is an interactive word cloud Web service that allows you to create hyperlinks for each of the words in the word cloud. Here's an interactive word cloud (requires Flash) that contains links to the home pages all of the member KCLS libraries. Try clicking on the library names.

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Redmond Library Board

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