So I have had it in mind for a few weeks to do something with all of the various terms around “emergence,” to me the term that has emerged (snort) as the single most important concept that can help us move away from the reductionist thinking that keeps us trapped in our current conditions.
My first attempt was a simple Wordle using a bunch of terms connected to the idea of “emergence.” I liked it, but then I thought, what if I could make the word “Emergence” actually emerge out of the terms that relate to it. Hmm…
I little searching brought me to a service I had not seen before, Tagxedo. Tagxedo is still in Beta, and thus allows you to try all of its functionality (but with the fair warning that the really cool stuff will become a paid-for part of the “Pro” service in the future.) Tagxedo is like Wordle on steroids, because not only does it allow you to do all the basic word cloud things that Wordle does, it alows you to constrain the resulting wordcloud in whatever pattern you choose by providing a source image.
Now that in itself would be cool enough. But in addition to outputting static images, Tagxedo can also export old-fashioned image maps (that can then be hosted locally), locally hostable Silverlight versions of the tagcloud or ones hosted on their server, and (here’s the cool thing) in these dynamic versions, the words that comprise the the tagcloud can be programmatically linked to web URLs. I chose to link the words to Wikipedia pages, and I could do that because Wikipedia, following the pattern of using easily deconstructed URLs (a la RESTful API) returns useful stuff 90% of the time by adding your term to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/_term here_
So, not only is this a very nice visualization tool (see their 101 Ways to use Tagxedo presentation for a truly exhaustive list of ways in which you can use tagclouds to communicate). Sweeet! – SWL