Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fun with Word Clouds: If Words Could Speak

Writers wrestle words - it's one of the never ending joys and anguishes of authorship. When we write a book, we turn words into sentences forming paragraphs forming pages that magically create stories, ideas and images that have the power to move the spirit.

But what if you were to take your precisely placed words and jumble them up? What story might your words they tell if given the chance?

Now comes Wordle, a cool little web service that takes your words and converts them into eye candy for wordies. Wordle generates randomly organized word clouds of unlimited shapes, sizes, colors, fonts and layouts. To create your own word cloud, simply visit the site and paste a bunch of words into the space provided and click go. To create the image above left, I copied the text from the About Smashwords page into Wordle. Once you create your masterpiece, you have the option of publishing it to Wordle's public gallery to share with the world.

Wordle might have interesting application for authors who want to find new ways to engage the senses of readers. Wordle, simply by accentuating words with the highest frequency in a sample, tells its own story about the words. By looking at the word cloud at left (an excerpt of a random page of my own novel Boob Tube), can you guess anything about the story?

You can even feed Wordle a web page, a blog, an RSS feed or your bookmarks. Below is what the Smashwords blog looks like on Wordle. Give Wordle a try for yourself. You might never see words the same way.

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