Thanks to a tweet from Paul McMahon in Hong Kong I discovered Twittersheep today. The site creates a dynamic word cloud using the bios of people who follow a specific Twitter user. Here’s the current one for my followers:

TwitterSheep word cloud from twitter.com_wfryer followers 3-25-2009

This word cloud not only communicates interesting things about folks with whom I share many common interests, it’s also insightful about the sorts of things we say in our “bio” fields as we craft our own digital footprints.

Tag clouds and word clouds are excellent tools for visualizing information and identifying patterns in different ways. Wordle is the online word cloud generator with which I’m most familiar, but an increasing number of tools are available to not only create word clouds from blocks of submitted text but also webpages and RSS feeds. (See my November 2008 post “Exploring, Learning and Communicating with Wordle” for more on Wordle.) Tools like TagCrowd and MakeCloud are examples. TagCloud has become so popular it’s currently undergoing a site overhaul. Marshall Kirkpatrick’s “Word Cloud Analysis of Obama’s Inaugural Speech Compared to Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Lincoln’s” is a great conversation catalyst with English and Language Arts teachers about word and tag clouds. CloudLet is a free FireFox extension which allows users to navigate Google search results via word clouds as well as a “normal” ranked/indexed list. The WP-Cumulus WordPress plugin is a free, Flash-based tool that shows blog tags in a “visually exciting” 3D animated display. (Examples are available from the plug-in’s author.)

Are there other sites and tools you’re using now with students or on your own to create and share word/tag clouds that you recommend?

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