Visualizing the Recovery (texts)

Lately, I’ve been enjoying the visualization tool Wordle, which was created
by folks at IBM Research Visual Communication Lab. Wordle creates word clouds of any text you supply. It can also draw text from a blog or rss feed. The tool has been around for a while, but this newer, simplified interface is great. So here are a few examples.

Text of the 1,000 page American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e., the Stimulus), minus the word “section.”
ARRA
To remix this cloud go to the Wordle Gallery.

Or consider the transcript of Obama’s recent town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana:
Obama in Elkhart
To remix this cloud go to the Wordle Gallery.

The appeal of these text clouds is that they provide an easy (maybe too easy) index of the contents of a body of text.  For the ARRA:  Act.  provided. funds.  For the town hall meeting:  Applause. people. get. going. Make. jobs.

It’s non-linear reading.  Not that one would give up actually reading texts, obviously (although I don’t plan on reading the whole ARRA), but it gives you a quick sense of the weight of particular words.  And it is not necessarily static.  Part of the instructive element of this technology, I think, is the ability to remix text clouds by adjusting the layout, font, color, and number of words.

Now I just need to figure out how to export the text of my book.

Hat tip to historying.

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2 Responses to Visualizing the Recovery (texts)

  1. Tim Lacy says:

    Toby: Good stuff! It’s nice to see some Bughouse Square activity! But who am I to talk now that H&E is idle (although I’m still posting at USIH). …I’d like to see Wordle turned on Republican and Limbaughesque rants. Maybe the Congressional Republicans in particular? – TL

  2. Toby Higbie says:

    Too much administration to post lately. Good idea to do this to the Republicans. Sounds like you have a post at H&E!

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