wordle with capitolwords

By Bryan Rasmussen
June 23, 2008

Everyone seems to like Wordle, I hate(d) it because it is sort of the lowest common denominator of visualization, a way of making pretty tag clouds, and it doesn't actually, from what I've seen on the site, provide an api. But that's because it isn't really a service, that is to say it wasn't thought up as a way to provide automated creation of wordles to other computational processes. As it says in the FAQ:

"A scalable web service should take no more than a few tens of milliseconds to do its work. To create a Wordle requires multiple seconds in a Java runtime. (That pretty animation is not for show; it's really laying things out during the animation). Therefore, Wordle will always apportion the CPU-intensive stuff to you, the user, and your CPU."

Yes, it definitely doesn't appeal to me because when doing visualization I like more advanced things but then again... the quality of the images generated are very high.

And then I thought of something that I would like to use it for:
Capitol Words

Capitol Words provides Rest Based (or POX) webservices to return what were the most used words in the American Congressional records on any particular date. I refer to them as being Rest based because, although there isn't really a hypermedia as engine of application state thing going on or anything the service doesn't need it, it's a POX service that is also a REST service because it does not misuse HTTP at any point, and it doesn't need more than POX to provide its necessary services.

Ok, enough of the side-track, back to how to put these two together. Capitol Words' webservices can be used to find the words that were used most in the days when Congress was in session in the year, with the count, so for example you could find out that the word surveillance was used 40 times in 2006-12-04 (obviously the count is with common English words removed), so with this data we can generate a wordle of all the words that were used most in the Congressional session of a particular year.

Here it is for 2008 so far:

title="Wordle: Capitol Words 2008">Capitol Words 2008 - at June 24

capitolwordsJune24_2008.jpg

Note: image resized in the image tag, because I found that with current Movable type styling the original size of the image overflowed content column. The actual wordle image is about double the size.

Actually, since it allowed me to do something I enjoy I guess I don't hate Wordle after all. It's quite nice.


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