In this blog series, we’ll be comparing similar Web 2.0 tools so that you can decide which is best for you.
I posted a couple of weeks ago about using Wordle, a very cool and easy site that generates word clouds from text. Like I said then, it is a very fun and engaging site to use. But it’s not the only option out there.
Word Clouds definitely have educational value, especially when it comes to analyzing texts for word frequencies.In a word cloud, the most frequently used words appear more prominently. Pasting in a story that a student has written or a speech by a political figure can reveal some surprising results and lead to some meaningful and analytical conversations.
My question today is, which of the following three options is best for you: Wordle, Tagxedo, or Wordlings? First a look at each–here’s a word cloud from each site that I made of then-Senator Obama’s concession speech after the New Hampshire primary in 2008:
Made in Tagxedo:
Made in Wordle:
Made in Wordlings:
Interesting how the same speech can turn out three different ways in terms of word size. Now onto some pros and cons of each…
Tagxedo–I really like the fact that you don’t have to register to make one. I really, really like the fact that you can make your clouds into different shapes. You can even make them into any word you want or upload your own picture. This would appeal to students in a big way! In addition, the interface is pretty easy to use. The only thing I wasn’t too keen on was that I had to download some plug-in called “Silverlight” before I could make my cloud. Seemed to be a Microsoft product. This is probably because I’m on a Mac. But my entire school is on Macs, so this could be a potential headache. If you try it and you don’t need to download anything…I’d highly recommend Tagxedo.
Wordle: They’ve been around the longest and they have a good thing going. Lot’s of visual appeal, no account needed to create, very easy interface (I especially like the easy-to-find Randomize button–makes things fun!). I think their word clouds turn out the best of the three, as well. The important, repeated words really stand out more in the Wordle I made than in the other two. Really, as far as a comparison goes, the only thing Wordle doesn’t have is the word-cloud-as-the-shape-of-something thing.
Wordlings–I wish I could recommend this one, but it’s the weakest of the three by far. First of all, as far as I could tell, you can only create a Wordling if you have a twitter or facebook account. Fine for me, but not for students. Also, their interface was a little confusing. And each time you changed a selection (font, color, shape, etc.) it completely rebuilt your cloud over again, one word at a time. This made for slow going. Finally, I just don’t think their cloud is as accurate. In a speech where “Yes We Can” is repeated over and over, the word Yes should be prominently featured, I think. I know it’s a newer site, and you can make cool shapes, but for now I have to give Wordlings a thumbs down.
So there you have it. In our opinion, when it comes to word clouds Wordle, by a hair, reigns supreme. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them add in some shape effects before too long. But we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Tagxedo as well.
Stay tuned for more in our Head to Head series, when we break down similar Web 2.0 tools to help you decide which one is best for you!