Tagxedo is one of the free web tools I use rather frequently. I’ve employed it to create a portrait of compliments for a much beloved team member who was heading back to her homeland after her visa expired, to create front pieces to briefing materials that present the crux of the materials in a snap, and to perform quick n’ dirty frequency analysis of quantitative data. I’ve not yet turned it upon myself, until today. I’ve made a tagxedo of my twitter feed – I’m now literally a man of my word.
Free tools like Tagxedo and Wordle have become essential in my engagement toolchest. We’re attempting to modernize the 100+ year old Water Act, with large scale citizen involvement on a digital scale as of yet unheard of in British Columbia. Part of that process has meant that we’ve needed to become rather fluent, rather quickly with the content of more than 1008 original submissions from around the globe. As the “Engagement Guy” I do much of the analysis of content that is primarily shared by email. Frequency analysis through these tools – which allow you to upload large swaths of text – allows for us to identify quickly key repeated terms, which help balance the groundtruthing that we’re trying to achieve of this project. Simply frequency analysis certainly does not replace other sorts of analysis, but it does pull out key truths from a data pool. That we can build images of our data that we can use to for cover pages while we do it doesn’t hurt either.
The above tagxedo of my tweetstream certainly hints at several key facts at first glance: I retweet a lot, I use yammer and Nick Charney has a special place in my heart. These also tell you something about my personality and social practice- I retweet a great deal to connect internal and external stakeholders, I’m active on more than one network and Nick’s a good friend. That’s pretty accurate. What’s also telling is what’s not there – I’m clearly not retweeting @govloop enough!
I’ve found tools like Tagxedo and Worlde as valuable as traditional ones, like Word and Outlook. I am again impressed by the power of the free tool centered gift-based economy in which tinkerers make queens and kings of us all.