Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Revealing information labor through Wordle

A blog post over at Wisconsin Union Blend alerted me to this fun little Java program called Wordle:
Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.
Desperately trying to imagine how to link Wordle to the topic of "information labor" so I could talk about it in my blog, I realized that academics these days generally produce two major texts which are meant to represent their information labors to the world: their c.v. (traditionally produced in a paper, or at least paper-like, format) and, now, their web site. So I wondered: would the word cloud of Wordle reveal two different concentrations of information labor if fed my more "official" c.v. and my more "public" web site?

Here's the c.v.:


And here's the web site:


I was surprised at how my institutional affiliation with UW-Madison leaps out of the c.v. text, whereas my topical focus on information, technology, and labor is more prominent on the web site text. It's something I'll be thinking about and, I'll admit, something I wouldn't have considered had there not been a free little web applet for visualizing my representation of my own labors in this way.