You know the old saying: A picture is worth a thousand words. How about a picture of a thousand words (or more)? That’s basically what you get from a “word cloud”–a visual representation of text, with the most frequently used terms getting the most real estate. Here’s what Advancing the Story looks like in “word cloud” form:
At first glance, it looks like we’ve written more about newspapers than TV. But the size of the word “watch” suggests that may not be the case. One thing’s for sure: we’ve taken on a lot of different topics since we launched a year ago.
Creating a word cloud like this is a snap, thanks to a new free Web service called Wordle. (Thanks to Angela Grant for the inspiration.) It’s a fun toy, but it strikes me that it could also be a useful tool. How about plugging in a block of text–a news story, for example? The resulting cloud could tell you something about your writing. For example:
That’s a word cloud of my latest AJR column. I think you can tell at a glance what it was about. Try it with something you’ve written. What does the cloud say about your focus? How about your choice of words?