Monday, May 30, is a holiday in the United States and anyone who can is out having fun, not sitting at their computer, so blogathoners have the option of doing something fun and relatively easy too – creating a Wordle and posting it on their blog.
Right now, you’re probably asking, what’s a Wordle? In case you’ve never heard of it, a Wordle is a tag cloud created out of frequently used words on your blog. A tag cloud is another name for a picture made out of information, in this case, words. You can see what I’m talking about by looking at the site Wordle.net. Or look at this Wordle I created on my blog a while back.
Now that you know what they are, you need to know how to make one yourself and then post it on your blog. Here are the directions:
1. Go to Wordle.net.
2. Click on the Create tab.
3. Enter your blog’s URL in the appropriate box. The program gives you two other options: entering a bunch of random text, or entering your Delicious user name. It’s really up to you what you want to do, but since this is a blogathon event and the blogathon is all about your blog, I’d suggest creating a word cloud based on your blog.
4. Check out your word cloud. If you like what you see, proceed to the next step. If not, you can adjust fonts, colors and other parameters.
5. Save the image and add it to a blog post. Here’s where you’ve got a few more options. The easiest is using a screen capture program to take a picture of your Wordle that you can save as a .png file and then upload to a blog post as you would any other image. This is what I did to create my Wordle, using a free screen capture app called Jing.
If you don’t have a screen capture program get one! Seriously, if you don’t have a screen capture program and don’t want to get one you can print out the Wordle word cloud, scan it and turn the scanned image into a .jpeg file that you can load onto your blog like you would any other image.
On a Mac, you can print the image as a .pdf file, then open the .pdf in Preview, save as a .jpeg file and then load it onto your blog post as you would any other image.
There’s one important thing you need to know to use the Wordle program: it’s based on Flash, which means you need to have Flash on your computing device to use the program. That means you won’t be able to create or display a Wordle on an iPhone or iPad because they don’t use Flash.
Wordle is a simple version of a serious technology called data visualization that more news organization are using. Data visualization is a fancy name for the charts, graphs and other graphics reporters have always used to help explain what they were writing about. But interactive, real-time, location-aware tools like Google Maps, Foursquare and other internet-based technologies have allowed them to push the previous boundaries of what could be depicted. You can learn more about data visualization in these posts: Journalism in the age of data from Stanford University, and Data visualization resources from Mindy McAdams’ Teaching Online Journalism blog.
Here’s what WordCount looked like on Thursday, May 26, 2011. Click on the image to see the full-screen version.