Saturday, September 01, 2012

Wordle Word Graphs



Once in a while a simple yet brilliant and beautiful idea comes to life online and reminds us that computer technology wasn't invented just to drain our free time, create dependence and then frustration when these vital tools fail to work, and give us another excuse to avoid personal contact with other human beings.

Wordle is one of those ideas. Take a famous speech, a letter to a friend, a junk email message, or any piece of textual information and Wordle can turn it into a thing of beauty and usefulness, marrying form and function to delight the senses and divulge hidden meanings in color, word, and shape.

Think of Wordle as a cross between painting, language, and math that enables anyone armed with a piece of text to engage creatively in all of these activities at the same time.

Wordle takes your text, analyzes which words are used and how often they appear, and creates a verbal montage that shows, based on the size of the words appearing in the wordle, the relative frequency of the particular words comprising that text. By showing graphically the popularity of words contained in a given piece of writing, Wordle reveals with striking clarity those ideas and themes given the most emphasis by the work's author. One gets the distinct feeling that wordles even somehow manages to expose the author's true intentions, giving viewers the opportunity to spy on the writer's unconscious mental processes and discover his or her latent motivations.

Here's a wordle I created out of Barack Obama's victory speech on election night, 11/4/2009:

Users can customize their creations by changing fonts, color schemes, layout, orientation, etc. to form endless variations of the same wordle. There's even a "Randomize" button to generate random versions!

Finally, you can publish your best wordles for the world to see in the Wordle Gallery.

And Wordle costs ... absolutely nothing!

Not only that, but users are completely free (with proper attribution) to use wordles they create in any way and for any personal or commercial purpose they like, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License that governs images created by Wordle.

Try it out yourself! Click here to go to the Wordle site, and start making your own wordles for fun, learning, or profit.

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.