Wordle: Cool Web Toy

Sometimes you see something on the web that makes you remember what cool really means. That just happened to me with Wordle.

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like.

Here’s a cloud of the lyrics from my favorite album. All I had to do was cut and paste the lyrics from I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight into Wordle and hit Go. After that, I tweaked a little. For example, I reduced the number of words from 150 to 74. (Why is that an appropriate number?)

I found out about Wordle from Neil Gaiman’s blog. Perhaps that’s why my first creation was is based on the writing of his friend Susanna Clarke.

To be more specific, it was based on the last part of this excerpt from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Wordle is a project by Jonathan Feinberg, who I see works for IBM in Cambridge (the one across the river from Boston, where I live, not the one in the land of my birth). He is really on to something here. My head is buzzing with the uses to which this could be put, and the directions he could take it.

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