A New Use for Tag Clouds

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The Los Angeles Times has come up with an intriguing new use for a tag cloud.

The Times’ online version features two clouds, one for US President George W. Bush’s recent 2006 State of the Union address, the other for his 2002 speech.

A tag cloud generally refers to a visual weighted list of a website’s tags. According to the Wikipedia listing

Often, more frequently used tags are depicted in a larger font or otherwise emphasized, while the displayed order is generally alphabetical. Thus both finding a tag by alphabet and by popularity is possible.

You see tag clouds in places like Flickr, highlighting the most clicked-on tags; even Steve Rubel’s Micro Persuasion blog features a tag cloud generated by Tagcloud.com based on Steve’s posts. This blog uses the tag cloud feature to highlight the searches conducted on the PR-focused Swicki search I set up at Eurekster.

But the Times concept sheds new light on what’s possible with tag clouds. By turning every word in both speeches into tags, it’s easy to see where the focus shifted from 2002-shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks-to 2006. “Security,” “terror,” and “weapons” were oft-repeated in the 3,875-word speech four years ago; the address earlier this week(which weiged in at 5,433 words) featured an emphasis on economy, a word the President uttered 16 times.

There’s huge potential for this approach to tag clouds; expect to see more of it.

Hat tip to Poynter Online’s E-media Tidbits.

Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.

A New Use for Tag Clouds
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