Fun with Word Clouds

Like I said in my very first post… I’m not exactly an early adopter. But however late to the party this makes me… I am just now getting into word cloud generators!

Here’s how I belatedly learned of this toy… In place of a final exam this week in our Christianity and Western Culture class, we’ll spend our last hour with those students discussing essays they wrote that were meant to synthesize materials from the entire course. My friend Sam designed the brief PowerPoint presentation we’ll be using. One slide looks like this:

CWC Reading Packet Word Cloud

Yes, Sam took the entire text of our primary source reading packet and fed it into the Wordle word cloud generator. It’s an interesting array of terms; we’ll use the same technique to create a word cloud out of the electronic versions of our students’ essays — I’ll be very curious to see what patterns emerge, and how they react to them.

So, having nothing better to do than, well, grade… I thought I’d take the text of the most popular posts in the near-six month history of this blog and feed them into a word cloud generator. However, Wordle (as far as I could quickly discern) gives only limited ability to edit the words included, so I fed the posts into a different generator, WordItOut.com, and edited out redundant and non-distinctive words. Leaving me with this:Pietist Schoolman Word Cloud, December 2011

It’s not a perfect snapshot of what happens here (I should probably have made a point of including the text of at least one post about Hitler and Nazis, topics that seemed to have risen in popularity of late), but it’s not bad.

While we’re at it, let’s try a few more texts I commonly read or use…

First, my favorite book of the Bible, the Gospel of Luke (NRSV):

Gospel of Luke Word CloudThe Universal Declaration of Human Rights, perhaps the central document of my spring course on human rights in international history:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Word Cloud

Then finally, because I haven’t said anything about my favorite band in a while: a word cloud based on the lyrics to every non-Mermaid Avenue album released by Wilco! (thanks to the good folks at a sea black with ink, the Wilco lyrics archive, for making that lark less numbing than it might have been)Wilco Word Cloud


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