Digital Culture

Tag Cloud for 2007 State of the Union

Lately I’m really digging Tag Clouds as information sources of their own, and not just a reflection of a source. For instance, check out the tag cloud for the President’s State of the Union from last night, and see what’s important at a glance…note the difference in frequency of “war” and “security” or “terrorists”.

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By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

59 replies on “Tag Cloud for 2007 State of the Union”

Tag Cloud for 2007 State of the Union Address…

Here’s a tag cloud for President Bush’s State of the Union address last night. The size of words indicate how frequently they were used in the speech. Example: “security,” “terrorist” and “america” are bigger than most, because they were used …

Thanks for the great post. I listened on CNN today as a newscaster rambled on about Pres. Bush mentioning Security 4 times as much as healthcare, Iraq 9 times, blah blah blah. This is what we really need to make quick sense of information.

I think this is fantastic. it would be really neat to do one for every state of the union for the next 20 years and make a book out of them… follow trends in sociology, government and culture with bold text. nice one, thanks

it would be a bit more accurate to keep words together that represent a complete idea, such as AL QUEDA and HEALTH CARE. it’s a fun, poetic jumble to see them all alphabetically, but it would also be nice to see a more clinical version as well… PLEASE?

The old state of the unions (and this one) have already been done in a nice slick interface here:

However, you’ll notice some differences between the two. The algorithm that picks out the words and weighting, gives a different stress to the words our eyes pick out. I’d like to see tag clouds become more prevalent as a source of quick information.

Fantastic use of visual clues to sum things up. What about making it non-rectangular, where instead of alphabetical order you get the median position of each word with respect to the overall speech? You’d add the time dimension to the summary. As long as it’s at automated generator, I would think you could write a script to average the “position” of the word out of the total number.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

How about displaying the tags as a real cloud with the highest rating in the middle and lesser valued taggs as you move further from the middle. It would be very interesting to see what the proximity relationship between often mentioned subjects are.

I put the cloud of the speech next to the rebuttal. Very interesting comparison. The ideological themes are evidently not the same. What strikes me more is the difference America vs America/Americans.

Any chance you make a service where we can paste text ourselves and your app makes the tag cloud on the text? The cloud may be copied as a jpg and used by the txt provider.
Could be exteded to save the cloud for the text, we may tag the text and see tag clouds of similar texts.

Hey, this is a new, new thing isn’t it? I think I could invest some money into this!

Yeah, that Democratic rebuttal is quite old. Here’s Webb’s brilliant rebuttal:

“I’m Senator Jim Webb, from Virginia, where this year we will celebrate the 400 anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown – an event that marked the first step in the long journey that has made us the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth.

It would not be possible in this short amount of time to actually rebut the president’s message, nor would it be useful. Let me simply say that we in the Democratic Party hope that this administration is serious about improving education and healthcare for all Americans, and addressing such domestic priorities as restoring the vitality of New Orleans.

Further, this is the seventh time the president has mentioned energy independence in his State of the Union message, but for the first time this exchange is taking place in a Congress led by the Democratic Party. We are looking for affirmative solutions that will strengthen our nation by freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil, and spurring a wave of entrepreneurial growth in the form of alternate energy programs. We look forward to working with the president and his party to bring about these changes.

There are two areas where our respective parties have largely stood in contradiction, and I want to take a few minutes to address them tonight. The first relates to how we see the health of our economy – how we measure it, and how we ensure that its benefits are properly shared among all Americans. The second regards our foreign policy – how we might bring the war in Iraq to a proper conclusion that will also allow us to continue to fight the war against international terrorism, and to address other strategic concerns that our country faces around the world.

When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries. Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared. When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it’s nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world. Medical costs have skyrocketed. College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them.

In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table. Our workers know this, through painful experience. Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also. And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.

In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy – that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base. Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street. We must recapture that spirit today.

And under the leadership of the new Democratic Congress, we are on our way to doing so. The House just passed a minimum wage increase, the first in ten years, and the Senate will soon follow. We’ve introduced a broad legislative package designed to regain the trust of the American people. We’ve established a tone of cooperation and consensus that extends beyond party lines. We’re working to get the right things done, for the right people and for the right reasons.

With respect to foreign policy, this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years. Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism, and that invading and occupying Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the most violent and turbulent corner of the world.

I want to share with all of you a picture that I have carried with me for more than 50 years. This is my father, when he was a young Air Force captain, flying cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift. He sent us the picture from Germany, as we waited for him, back here at home. When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing. I still keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother and others had to make, over and over again, as my father gladly served our country. I was proud to follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in Vietnam. My brother did as well, serving as a marine helicopter pilot. My son has joined the tradition, now serving as an infantry marine in Iraq.

Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country. On the political issues – those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death – we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm’s way.

We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us – sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

The president took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the central command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the joint chiefs of staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable – and predicted – disarray that has followed.

The war’s costs to our nation have been staggering. Financially. The damage to our reputation around the world. The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism. And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.

The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.

On both of these vital issues, our economy and our national security, it falls upon those of us in elected office to take action.

Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century. America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines. The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.

Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions. He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves “as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other.” And he did something about it.

As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. “When comes the end?” asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during the second world war. And as soon as he became president, he brought the Korean war to an end.

These presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this president to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.

Thank you for listening. And God bless America.”

I too would like to see the cloud arranged so that the more popular words gravitated towards the middle. Otherwise, nice!

This tool is pretty slick – is it something you have written that can just be run against any text document and create a cloud? Is it code you’d be willing to share?

Even more interesting is comparing word clouds from prior years. Last year’s state of the union word cloud, for example… it’s all about america!

Word Clouds for the State of the Union…

Pattern Recognition has a word cloud for Bush’s State of the Union address, in which words are weighted according to frequency. So, “terrorism” and “security” appear very, very bold, because Bush mentioned them time and ti…

It was the SOS!!! 1984, Big Brother bull! I hate to kick someone when they are going down, but here goes………………………. KICK!!!!!!!!!!!!! Awwwwwwwwww I feel much better now!!! SMASH THE STATE!!! Jayne County

Visual text analysis…

How many ways can you visually summarize text? I mean, stats are nice, but visuals soak into the brain so much faster. An ICWSM paper on visual analysis of weblog content reminded me of other examples of ways to depict……

I think this is fantastic. it would be really neat to do one for every state of the union for the next 20 years and make a book out of them… follow trends in sociology, government and culture with bold text. nice one, thanks

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