TagCrowd, created by Daniel Steinbock at Stanford University, is a clever new web application for visualizing word frequencies by creating a tag cloud (or text cloud). It’s fun to play with and has a number of interesting possible uses.
I made the one on the right from a selection of Emily Dickinson poems. One thing that stands out is her use of the word “stop,” as in:
Not In Vain
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Tag clouds provide a visualization for navigation on Web 2.0 sites with user-generated metadata (tags) as on this blog. TagCrowd enables this for any text file, by automatically generating tags. You could give it the file name for a secret document you’ve just found, tell it the url for your favorite news website, or paste in the text from the novel you’re writing.
- as topic summaries for speeches and written works
- for visual analysis of survey data
- as brand clouds that let companies see how they are perceived by the world
- for data mining a text corpus
- for helping writers and students reflect on their work
- as name tags for conferences, cocktail parties or wherever new collaborations start
- as resumes in a single glance
- as visual poetry
See the tag cloud for my own cv on the left above. What strikes me there is how I need words of four and five syllables, when Emily Dickinson could say so much in words of one syllable! Stop.