Tagxedo – is it too Wordley?

I was in a meeting discussing images for an e-learning module and someone suggested Wordle. The consensus was that Wordles are everywhere and that they tend to be a little cliché these days. I originally wrote about Wordle on this blog in 2008!

Tagxedo

One suggestion was that we use Tagxedo instead. Tagxedo lets you create shaped tag clouds from Twitter IDs, Delicious accounts, RSS feeds, Web sites and searches. The tag cloud above was created from a search on ‘remote working’. There is a lot of customisation available, but unfortunately it doesn’t let you paste in words and use them to create a cloud – though it’s possible that I just haven’t discovered how to do it. You can also buy posters and/or mugs of everything you create.

There are lots of other tag cloud creators around, such as Tag Crowd, Word hearts and Worditout. But are the days of the tag cloud as a visual image numbered? Is is just not new and fresh enough? If so, what can those of us with mediocre graphics skills use to illustrate a point?

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5 thoughts on “Tagxedo – is it too Wordley?

  1. The problem with this argument is that it presumes that the only value of tag clouds comes from their novelty value. Worrying about whether it’s ‘new or fresh enough’ is appropriate if you are only using them in that way. If so, I agree that for most people they don’t serve that purpose. But for me the utility of tag clouds is that they present a lot of information in a compact way that I can digest easily. Some forms of them (such as the WordPress tag cloud widget visible on sites like http://dablog.ulcc.ac.uk/) are also actionable, which puts even more utility into the same space.

    That functionality is why I find tag clouds useful. They don’t need to have novelty value to do it and I’m not aware of something else *with* novelty value that does the job. So why worry ? It’s too easy to worry about things needing to be new and refreshed all the time. Sometimes it’s necessary, and other times it isn’t.

  2. Thanks Kevin. I’d agree that when tag clouds present a functioning display of tags then they are really useful (see the left hand column on this blog!) I was thinking about them more as a visual image – I’ve just seen too many over the years!

    Since writing this post I’ve actually used a Tagxedo image in a some slides I’ve written. I pulled together a lot of definitions of ‘research data’ and created a tag cloud – the result is a really good illustration of the key words used in definitions, and hence the key concepts people want those definitions to convey. The librarian in me can see that there is still much mileage in the idea of tagging, after all it’s metadata for the masses! ;-)

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