Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Wordle!

What's it all about?
When I was in graduate school, I learned that "content analysis" was a fancy phrase for a very simple way of describing texts. Although it conveys nothing about the many contexts in which words may be used, simple counts of word frequency can provide a quick way to compare large bodies of text. For example, a research partner and I used the frequency of words used in newspaper stories in Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona as one part of our study of these twin cities.

Word clouds -- and specifically Wordles -- are a visual form of content analysis that I have seen in a variety of contexts in recent years. In fact, I created some as Visualization Tools for this blog in 2012. Yesterday, I admired the work of a fellow geographer who used Wordles in her own work on the geography of migration patterns in Vermont. Her team had hoped to receive 75 responses to a survey, but received thousands, each rich in descriptive text. They are now taking the time to code and analyze the results, but used a Wordle in order to begin their exploration of a data set far richer than they had anticipated.

This inspired me to create a new Wordle for this very blog, with the hope that it might entice viewers to explore some of the 800 or so entries from which the image above was generated in a matter of seconds.

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