For this week’s demo, I’ll be showing us how to use Wordle, an interesting little tool that turns input text into a visual diagram that weights words based on their frequency.
From the Wordle homepage, at http://www.wordle.net/, click “create your own,” then copy and paste any body of text into the field at the top and click “Go.” The program generates your word cloud, and from there you can tweak the layout, colors, font and other features, but Wordle does not allow you to manually maneuver words. You can randomize it until you find an arrangement you like, but that’s all you can do.
There is a forum, FAQ and advanced features guide, but there are a number of features that are missing. For one, there seems to be no way to save an image of your wordle, nor can you search through the public gallery. That said, it is a potentially useful tool for comparing texts based on their diction, but overall there is not a lot that I can imagine this being useful for – at least as it is now. If more features were added to the basic idea, this could become a very useful tool for scholars.
I chose two of my favorite texts to demonstrate how Wordle works: “Panopticism” from Foucault’s Discipline & Punish and Kant’s “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?”
Here they are: