The Tag Cloud
Like the previously featured word cloud, a tag cloud is a visualization of word frequencies, i.e., it enables you to see how frequently words appear in a given text. It is, however, more structured than a word cloud with the words appearing in alphabetical order and in rows, making this format less decorative but easier to assess.
In this tag cloud, there are two sets of text visualized:
- The lyrics of the songs on Leonard Cohen’s first album, Songs Of Leonard Cohen (1967)
- The lyrics of the songs on Leonard Cohen’s most recent album, Old Ideas (2012)
The data set includes all lyrics from the songs on Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas and Songs Of Leonard Cohen albums as found at LeonardCohenFiles. Original spellings have been retained. Titles, credits, and dedications have been excluded. Each instance of repeated words and lines (e.g., a chorus) has been included. Because apostrophes are handled as if they were blank spaces by the software, all apostrophes have been deleted (e.g., “he’s” has become “hes”). Each ampersand has been replaced with “and.” The processed text was then uploaded to Many Eyes, the IBM-sponsored site that collects data sets and creates visualizations of aspects of those data sets.
The tag cloud software, which ignores common words in some languages, such as the word “the” in English, strips out punctuation, calculates the frequency of each word, and displays the word at a size that is based on its frequency.
Using The Tag Cloud
Whenever the mouse is over a word, information about the occurrences of that word and the context it was used in will be shown in a tooltip. Optionally, you can also select to look at the frequency of two consecutive words occurring in the text, by selecting the 2 word radio button at the top.
To highlight a tag on the cloud, click on it with your mouse and it will be marked with an orange color. To highlight more than one tag, hold down the control key as you click.
To look for specific tags in the tag cloud, click on the search box and start typing. Every time you hit a key, the cloud shows the tags that start with the letters you’ve typed. The example below shows the results of a search for the word “mercy,” which appears only once in Songs Of Leonard Cohen and three times in Old Ideas.
Using A Tag Cloud To Compare Two Texts
The tag cloud below shows a view that compares the frequencies of the most common words in both texts.
The size of the terms indicates the relative frequency of the term in the text. A mouse over will bring up the specific context for each tag, along with both the absolute and relative frequencies of that tag.
Tag Cloud: Songs Of Leonard Cohen Vs Old Ideas
I’ll leave it to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions about the differences in word choices and word frequencies between the two albums.