Saturday, 26 February 2011

word clouds

With nothing else to do (except work in the garden, work on the journal, work on my lecture for next week, work around the house, work on a paper I need to re-write, etc. etc) I have been playing with - a word cloud generator that has all sorts of customisable options. One of these allows you to upload your own image to act as the shape into which the word cloud will fit. Word clouds, for anyone who isn't as obsessed with words as I am, are graphical representations of the relative frequencies of the different words in a document. So a word that appears a lot in a document would be be shown in the cloud as larger than a word that was relatively infrequent. Some words are so frequent that one has to remove them or they would dominate the cloud to the exclusion of others - so this includes words like "the", "a", "and", and  "Altmann"*. Once one's done that (tagxedo, and its close cousin, do it for you), one can end up with an interesting perspective on the topic of a paper by simply examining its corresponding word cloud. So here's one I made earlier, using a customised image. The original document is a chapter I wrote in the forthcoming Handbook of Eye Movements (Oxford University Press). Hence the image: