Feb 192011

This summer, thanks to another blog, I discovered Wordle. This online program allows us to create “word clouds” from a list pasted into the generator’s window: once the cloud is generated one can apply different fonts, layouts, color scheme, and tweak it until satisfaction, and then the image can be saved as a pdf, printed, etc.. I did it with a list of words I created when starting to work on one of the projects that occupies my time right now. Why this list? Because I wanted to have an idea of the vocabulary used in a series of poems I was studying, envisioning that I could add as a constrain on my own creation the sole use of those words. I dropped that idea, keeping only the form as a working tool, but I kept the list, as it drew a world in which I had to try to imagine living. Hence my enthusiasm when I discovered Wordle, a way to visualize the words, to play with chance (we do not have any control on the way the words are arranged, nor on the size of the font for each one), and to have in front of me (literally propped up on my desk) the roots of my work. Because, if I am not going to use these words specifically, the world they point to is the one I want to decipher, and bring to verse, the visual is here a strong support to focus and think. I have to admit that I have always be fascinated by the visual representation of ideas, and always dreamed of using programs such as Mindmanager to map out my work. Unfortunately, I was never able to make it work for the kind of writing I do, and kept jotting down notes on pieces of papers strategically placed around my computer… Today I found another word cloud generator, Tagxedo, a bit more complex than Wordle but with more options to compose the cloud, and maybe more importantly more options to save it (from Wordle you can only create a pdf or print) : the image you see here was created with Tagxedo and saved as a JPG. Go ahead, try it, and create your own mental maps…


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