The online application Wordle has been available for quite a while now, but until today I had not thought of a way I could make use of it, other than for its entertainment/distraction value.
Then I read a post by my friend Noric Dilanchian, a detailed “how to” on preparing proposals and reviews. Noric is very creative in using images to complement the words in his posts. In the particular post about proposals (which by the way is well worth reading and bookmarking for future reference), Noric had used an image generated by the online application Wordle.
That was a lightbulb moment for me: I realized that Wordle would be a very useful resource for blog posting.
(Update April 11, 2012: I discovered just now that all the Wordle images in the original publication of this post had become corrupted, so I’ve deleted them all and uploaded the image above as a single illustration of the product.)
I sometimes spend quite a lot of time looking for an image that will go with a particular post and whose use is not restricted by copyright. Which basically means either using my own photography or an image which has a Creative Commons licence. So if I don’t have a suitable pic of my own I go trawling through flickr, with the Advanced Search option turned on and the Creative Commons box checked, or through stock.xchange or use Zemanta, which basically does the search for me on flickr (Zemanta finds other content too). Sorting and choosing can take time.
The lightbulb moment was that with Wordle I now had another, quite speedy way to acquire an image which is covered by a Creative Commons licence. It’s literally as simple as dropping some text into a text box and pressing a button. Or you can enter the URL of any blog, blog feed, or any other web page that has an Atom or RSS feed, or enter a del.icio.us tag.
I tested the Wordle system, first by copying and pasting in the text of a blog post from yesterday on Des Walsh dot Com. The post focuses on social media expert Shel Israel, currently visiting China, and makes reference to statistics about bloggers in China.
The picture (deleted) demonstrates how the software gives more prominence, through gradations of font size, to the words and phrases that occur more frequently in the blog post.
I tested also the way Wordle outputs an image based on the tags from a del.icio.us username, in this case with my coachdes account at del.icio.us Would you guess from the image below (deleted) that I tend to do more tagging on the terms socialmedia, blogging, blogworld08 and, a bit less, SocialNetworking and Twitter, than on some others?
At first you might have to play around a bit with Wordle to get the hang of it. But it’s not complex and there is a detailed FAQ section as well as a forum.
You can also do a lot of manipulation of the image in terms of language, font, layout and color.
It is a condition of using the images that you provide a link to the Wordle site. One way to do that is to use the HTML code provided when you create an image. I had a problem with that and it may help someone if I share what that was and how I solved it.
The problem was that the image generated by the code provided was too small to be useful for the blog post. I could have put image size tags in the HTML but did not know the relativities of height and width and did not want to waste time experimenting, if there was a better way. To illustrate, the code for the image above made from the del.icio.us is:
<a href="http://www.wordle.net/gallery/wrdl/309690/Des_Walsh%27s_del.icio.us_tags" title="Wordle: Des Walsh's del.icio.us tags"><img src="https://www.wordle.net/thumb/wrdl/309690/Des_Walsh%27s_del.icio.us_tags" style="padding:4px;border:1px solid #ddd"></a>
When I embedded that in the code for this page I gott this:
That would have been ok if I had only wanted a small image, but I wanted a larger one.
The solution was staring me in the face on the page where I had created the image, but in fact I found the answer on the FAQ page, where it was pointed out that I could do a screenshot and save the image in that way. Note: that meant that for publication, as in a blog post, I had to take the extra step of including a link to the Wordle site at http://wordle.net – if you just use the supplied html code the link to the Wordle site is already included.
The image at the beginning of this post (note: new image does not match this text) was made when I had completed most of the text, using some of the keywords from the text, then doing a screenshot of the image generated by Wordle, saving, adjusting and uploading it. Kind of a pictorial summary of what follows in the text.
There are several screen image capture applications. I use Gadwin PrintScreen, which is free to download, then save the image to Irfanview, also a free download, adjust the size to what I want, save as a jpg (jpeg) file and upload it to the blog site.
I hope you find this post helpful. If you do use Wordle to create an image for a blog post, please feel free to leave a comment here with a link to the post.
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