Searchable Tagxedo Wordcloud

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A while ago Phil Bradley created a Tagxedo cloud image for the ‘Voices For The Library’ site. The team thought it was a fun thing to do and I wondered if we could build on this, to make it something more than just a static image. I’ve used Tagxedo before – creating a short animated film , a tribute to Middlemash and a way of generating word clouds automatically from blog posts.

Tagxedo is built on Microsoft Silverlight, which is similar to Flash. The great thing about Tagxedo is that, not only does it allow you to create a Wordcloud as an image, but it also allows you to index the words in the wordcloud and make the whole image searchable. Not many people seem to have cottoned onto this fact and I think it’s a really underused feature. It makes browseable wordclouds much more interesting if you’re actually clicking around a picture to perform the search. Part of the reason why it’s not been used much might be that, to create a clickable Tagxedo, you originally had to have Silverlight installed. This changed a while back when Hardy Leung, creator of Tagxedo, added a html version of this. It’s not as dynamic as the Silverlight version (ie the words don’t pop up as you hover over them), but it still works really well. With this in mind I’ve created a clickable Tagxedo for the Voices For The Library website here.

I created it in the shape of a heart, in keeping with my the ‘We love public libraries’ theme. 🙂 It’s not hosted on the ‘Voices For The Library’ site, but links through to it. Please give it a go and let me know what you think.

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Middlemash Video Thing

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Some time ago I started thinking about putting some kind of tribute (I suppose you’d call it that!) to the Mashed Libraries Middlemash event held at the end of last year.  I wanted to do something that used the tweet stream around the event, but tweaked the information in a way that referred to the original event, but not necessarily in an obvious way. So I put an audio visual thing together. It’s a bit “Hmm! I stroke my chin and nod sagely while watching it!”, but I wanted to do something different. 😉

What did I do?

  • Identified the top 11 tweeters/presenters at the event. (the 11th was so close to the 10th that it seemed unfair to leave them out!)
  • Fed their individual tweet stream into Tagxedo, using their Twitter photo as the Tagxedo image outline.
  • Added the image that had been generated in Tagxedo to Audiopaint to create some digital noise.
  • Visually scanned each image for the most dominant words and typed them into ‘Let Them Sing It For You‘. This software creates vocals from the words you’ve entered by using samples from existing songs.
  • Created a short video clip for each person using the images and audio that had been generated from their tweets.
  • Mixed all the videos together.

It is a bit odd, but it was fun to do – it gives the whole event a mad cyber-info twist, with images of the people built from the words they tweeted! I think most of them turned out well, but my personal favourite is probably Paul Stainthorp’s (with Middlemash plastered across his eyes like the robot in “The Day The Earth Stood Still“). It’s also fun trying to identify which songs are used in the vocals.

Generating Blog Keyword Tags and Tagxedo Clouds with Yahoo Pipes

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As I’ve been adding blog posts here I’ve noticed that the keyword tags are getting into a mess. So I’ve been thinking about what I could do to sort them out, either by getting the computer to do the tagging for me, or provide another way of presenting relevant keywords about specific blog posts to anyone who visits my blog.

As a first attempt (1), I decided to use Yahoo pipes and simply feed in the RSS feed of my blog, pull out keywords from each blog post and then create another RSS feed to be used anywhere. Visitors can view keywords for the last 10 blog posts, as I couldn’t get Yahoo pipes to go beyond 10. They can also click on a link to the blog post. The words/phrases pulled out aren’t perfect (as with any automated word extraction), but I think you get a good feel for the blog posts from them.

(NB: Click on ‘List’ to see the keywords and use the link back to the blog.)

At the same time, I was thinking about whether I could use something like a tag cloud generator to do what I wanted a bit more creatively. Having a look at Tagxedo, I realised that if you use the URL function on the home page to create a cloud you could actually build the url yourself. So, I created a second pipe (2) that presented the same keywords, but also provides a clickable link that feeds through to Tagxedo and creates individual tag clouds for each entry.

(NB: Click on ‘List’ to see the keywords and use the link to generate the cloud.)

Ultimately, I did want to combine the two pipes, but I couldn’t get Yahoo pipes to create valid links to 2 places in the same RSS item.

I would have also liked the Tagxedo cloud to display in the RSS feed, but at the moment the link just creates a cloud from the RSS.

Hopefully there is a way to achieve both of these things, but as a first attempt I think they both work quite well, even if the RSS feeds/presentation do need a bit of tidying up.

The results of the embedded pipes can be found on my test site here. Links to the source code of the pipe can be found in (1) and (2) above. I’ve also added the RSS to the blog on the right hand side to see how people get on with it. The feed is labelled ‘Term Tags’.