Tag clouds as a research object

TagcloudTag clouds are a nice way to visualize the content tags of a website. Flickr started this trend when they displayed a “All-time most popular tags” tag cloud on their front page. The size of the tags in the tag cloud is usually relative (more frequently used tags are displayed in a larger font). In this way you can quickly see what is hot and what is not on a webpage.

But when you add the dimension of time things get really interesting. You can actually map out shifts in tag usage. Chirag Meta created a Tagline Generator “that lets you generate chronological tag clouds from simple text data sources without manually tagging the data entries.” Two nice applications of this generator are:

  1. US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud
    You can see a shift from “welfare” to “terrorism”
  2. Microsoft’s evolution, in keywords
  3. The word “computer” is disappearing, interesting!

It might be nice if you could focus on one word, or a set of related words, so you could follow a certain trend. What else can we do with tagclouds (except making a t-shirt out of it of course)?

3 thoughts on “Tag clouds as a research object

  1. The one about Microsoft is pretty well done, for the upcoming MA thesis I’m using a kind of tag cloud to have clear what is the most important. Just to have an overview. So that’s kind of the other way round.

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