Wordle's Are For Presentation, Attraction & Analysis

Wordle on Performance People Webpage (created at www.wordle.net)
Wordles are visual representations of sets of words (see the wordle above that I have on the front page of my website - it is clearer there).  The individual words are presented with more frequently used words being larger and less frequently used words being smaller.  They are also presented randomly (in a jumbled manner), so that any connections within phrases and sentences are severed.

Just recently two people have asked me questions about Wordles.  One did not know what they were, or perhaps just what they are called, and the other was trying to transfer the Wordle they had created to another place. So I thought I would post about wordles, and their potential uses.

If you are familiar with Escher's explorations of absurdity and infinity, you will appreciate how pictures can entice you to look more closely.  Wordle's can have this effect, especially if you are familiar with the topic.  The Wordle at my website is also on a banner, and people often look more closely to the Wordle, to see what it says.
Wordle in Facilitation 101 (created at www.wordle.net)
Wordles are also a great way to present a big chunk of information in a novel way.  I use the Wordle above for this purpose.  It is the content of a Facilitation Skills workshop, and I put it up during the breaks.  It 'feels right' in this context, and reinforces key terminology from the workshop.

Wordle of 10 Blog Posts (created at www.wordle.net)
And finally, Wordles can be useful tools for the superficial analysis of large chunks of wordy information.

In the example above, the Wordle is from the first 10 posts of this Facilitation blog.  The biggest words are 'project', 'people' and 'PowerPoint'.  I think 'facilitation' and 'facilitator' should appear more often.  On closer examination of the 10 blog posts: three are about projects in appropriate ways; one long one is about PowerPoint; and I use the word 'people' a lot.  I made a mental note that my other professional life (in project management) should not take centre stage in a blog about facilitation; and to use words other than people more often.

Other ways to use Wordles for analysis include:

  • Identifying aspects of an organisation's culture or its values by Wordle-ing their last five Annual Reports.
  • Wordle-ing a speech to check for overuse of words (like 'people').
  • Putting a report into Wordle for some pointers towards your conclusions or to assist in writing your executive summary.  (Or in less formal situations, using a Wordle instead of an Executive Summary.) 

The Wordle website is here:  www.wordle.org.  I suggest you go and have a play.

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