Make + Share: Wordle

After seeing Kitty’s exploration with Wordle, I was interested in trying my hand at creating a more visually interesting word cloud (plus I thought it was a creative make + share project that I could actually do). I got super set on using Wordle for some reason, which turned out to make this a much more difficult assignment than anticipated! It took me three different computers (and three different browsers!) before I could get Wordle to work semi-successfully. Java was blocked on the first computer I tried, Java wouldn’t update on the second computer I tried (too old processing system), and the third computer required messing around with the settings to actually allow Java to work, though it wouldn’t work in Chrome. So after trying Chrome I went to Safari (the third computer didn’t have Firefox), but Safari wouldn’t work either, so I ended up having to download Firefox on the third computer and enable the Java applet to work…. so plenty of tech time later, I could finally get it to partially work. I say partially because I never could use the feature “

First, I went for text that I’d written and the place with the most text (and relevance) was the Belshaw reflections.Wordle created based on my reflections on Doug Belshaw's book "The 8 Essential Elements of Digital Literacy"

Not surprisingly, ‘Belshaw,’ ‘digital,’ ‘literacy’ and ‘learning’ were some of the more popular concepts. I like that learning came up frequently because that’s a key part of any literacy. I also like that skills, language, think, understanding, different, and social, came up often because those are, simplistically, what digital literacies are all about.

I had really wanted to use Wordle to analyze my own Twitter feed to see what words I kept using as well as the popular terms of people that I follow. However, since I couldn’t get that to work, I decided to just copy the text from our latest #nousion list.

Wordle word cloud for Twitter Nousion list

I thought this was kind of hilarious because you can see who the key contributors are (Chris, Sarah, Dan mainly) and then some of the Twitter stamps on each post (Jun, hours, ago, retweeted). You can’t really tell much in the way of content aside from nousion (Indian, reclaim hosting, providers, interesting), which was slightly disappointing but then also makes perfect sense given how all over the place the Twitter list is.

For my third one, I decided to take a gander at what the Newsminer is covering these days, so I copied all the news-related text from the frontpage of the public (non-paywall) site. uaf wordle 1

Again, given that I didn’t want to take the time to remove all the nonsensical words (updated, icon, JUN, Jun), I’m not surprised at the results. I do like how PIZZA is prominent, as is DOGS, icon, MIDNIGHT, SUN, Tanana, Interior, and Summer. I also like that pizza appears in both large and small type! Apparently the Newsminus is all about pizza. I also like how under Fairbanks it says vertically: HOT SPICE RIGHT OPEN. Wordles can be fun 🙂

Lastly, I wanted to circle back to academia so I looked at one of Cory Doctorow’s latest writings for The Guardian “The internet is the answer to all the questions of our time.”

doctorow wordle


This Wordle revlealed that his article focuses heavily on the INTERNET – which is hardly shocking given the article title. But it also focuses on companies, utopias/utopians (a lot of them and apparently organizations want them), employees, (the) ONE, declaration, and other IMPORTANT subjects. I find this pretty fascinating. Given that his article talks about the ‘Internet Utopian’ as a sort of species, it’s not surprising that INTERNET and UTOPIA* come up so frequently.

Overall, I enjoyed this, likely because it’s still textual. It’s an image, per se, but it’s meaningless without words. I wish I could figure out how to get the blog URL/feed option working because that’d give me a much more interesting (and scattered) cloud, but I’m satisfied for now with what I was able to do.

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