Tag clouds on the move

Yesterday, I discussed Wordle. Today, I came across a related tool, TagCrowd:

TagCrowd is a web application for visualizing word frequencies in any user-supplied text by creating what is popularly known as a tag cloud or text cloud.

TagCrowd is taking tag clouds far beyond their original function:

  • 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

Interestingly, both tools seem to indicate the growing realization that tag clouds have many more uses than their original, narrow application for indicating blog topic frequencies. A good example of the how tools often get used for very different purposes than what they were originally designed for!

Another application of “serious tagging” is not to use one tag cloud for various purposes, but to compare tag clouds.  Lilia Efimova gives a nice illustration of how she compared the tag clouds of her blog posts and a dissertation chapter on the same topic. Another comparison is to see how different tag cloud tools process the same text. Here’s the TagCrowd interpretation of the CommunitySense home page:

Quite a diffferent look and feel from the one provided by Wordle, right? It would be interesting to come up with visualization criteria which provide the best type of tag cloud for the particular purpose for which they are used.