Monday, 22 June 2009

On Word Clouds and Blog Posts

From the moment I first saw a “Word Cloud” I thought they were fabulous, mainly because I’m particularly fond of the use of pictures, diagrams and graphs to represent information. I view word clouds much as I would graphs, and enjoy getting information out of them. However, they also please me aesthetically. This latter property is harder to explain, but maybe you, dear reader, will understand what I mean?

One of my fabulous twitter friends, @_FK_ (whose classical music blog An everyman for himself is well worth reading) recently sent me a link to a word cloud he had made using Wordle. I was instantly tempted to explore further, and pasted in several random blocks of text I just happened to have lying around to see what happened. Great fun was what happened!

After I had posted my first blog, I couldn’t resist making a word cloud from it, and it did indeed turn out rather nicely. I thought you might like to see it, so it’s pasted here for your entertainment and delectation (if you’re into that sort of thing):However, seeing a word cloud for a chunk of text that you’ve already read might not be the very most exciting thing you’ve ever done, so then I wondered whether I should make a word cloud of my NEXT blog post. That way, you might get a little taster of what is in store in the next post, and have a little fun trying to imagine what it’s about. The downside of this is that you might take one look at the cloud, see the principal words, decide that the blog doesn’t look very interesting and decide not to read it. But I thought I might just take that risk!

The advantage of posting the cloud a few days before the blog post is that it ensures that I have actually written something to post. As I seem to have set a precedent for posting on a Wednesday, right in the middle of the working week, maybe writing the post the previous weekend is a very good idea. I also speculated to the Wonderspouse that I might challenge readers to write the blog themselves, just starting with the word cloud – anyone who came up with the exact blog by Tuesday evening could then win, say, a chocolate biscuit!

Maybe by this stage I was getting a little fanciful, but then this is all still very new to me, and I’m still having enormous fun with it. So much fun, in fact, that here is the cloud for THIS post:

After I wrote most of the above, I tried pasting my original word clouds into the blogger and the smaller words were so minuscule that they were illegible. However, I was determined to publish SOMETHING about word clouds since I love them so much. So after a restless night’s sleep and a lot of head scratching I came up with the idea of a minimalist word cloud – just 25 words in each cloud. Maybe this will still give you a tantalizing foretaste of the blog post that is to come, but I suspect that the chocolate biscuit challenge has just become considerably more difficult!

And finally, as promised, the word cloud for the post that is shortly to be published – hope you like it!


  1. This last one SO looks like a lap-dog - with boy and old its fromt and back legs and a head that goes from its viola ears to its eventually tongue. Wicked!!

  2. Argh, I typed this all in and then the blog ate it. So I have to reconstruct.

    I think the next step should be for readers to try to guess phrases from the upcoming blog entry using the Wordle cloud. E.g.:

    Give parents time: they become attractive with age.

    Give love: play viola.

    Eventually, violin got old; viola became attractive, like boy clarinet player in orchestra.

    Viola? Attractive? Really?

    ...etc. I might try haiku or some other more clever thing but I haven't had my morning coffee yet. ;)