What is it about wordles?

The Nieman Journalism Lab recently featured an article investigating the meaning of “the future of journalism” from 2008-2010 using Wordle; it’s a site you can visit to create those cloud-like collages of text that are tagged in association with a specific idea or subject.

Although wordles may be one way of visually mapping a virtual dialogue around a hot topic such as the future of the ever-malleable field of journalism, the picture these word clouds present can be somewhat one-sided; In fact, wordles can often disregard other mapping variables such as location and orientation. “Wordles are driven by a single-minded fetish for filling space,” explains Geography professor André Skupin in an article for GLIMPSE’S forthcoming issue, Text.

So what’s up with wordles? Do they contribute to the development of our visual dialogue or are they simply eye candy?

Stay tuned as Skupin and other GLIMPSE contributors take a deeper look at the evolution of text this autumn.

GLIMPSE'S very own word cloud created by Wordle based on the GLIMPSE Blog.

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One thought on “What is it about wordles?

  1. I find it odd that both “Jupiter” and “Jupiter’s” is listed and that they bother with adverbs such as “quite”, “especially”, “nearly” and “away” (perhaps used an an adjective). I’m not sure that reporting (trivial?) usage of adjectives such as “many” is that helpful either. It seems to require a more sophisticated semantic model to be more interesting, but on the other hand that might introduce a bias. I’d like to see one that stands on its own without many semantic rules (like this one it seems) compared to one with some reasonable semantic rules. Still, I find them fascinating.

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