Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Fun

We genealogy buffs tend to be a wordy bunch, and that is nowhere more apparent than on genealogy blogs such as this one.  Blogs give us a forum where we can show off our finds, discuss tools and tips, ponder deeper issues of family and history, etc.  Some of us go on at great length in... okay, I'll get to the point of this post.

We typically use a lot of words.  But what if we were constrained in length?  For instance, Twitter imposes a 140 character limit per tweet, similar to texting.  How would you discuss genealogy in such a limited space?  Strangely enough, it was a tweet (a Twitter message) from @MyHeritage (Twitter user names are preceded by the "@" symbol) that made me aware of the fun little web gadget I'm bringing you today.  You may have seen blogs that include a 'Labels' listing.  This blog does, down on the right side.  It lists the labels we bloggers add to our entries to try to make them searchable, and to give some quick idea of the content of the article.  Blogger's Labels widget is fairly primitive in that it doesn't give much option for the format of the output.  A website called Wordle has take the concept much further.  Wordle lets you point at any blog or website and it will generate a 'label cloud' from the words it finds, varying the size of the words by frequency of use, and making interesting shapes of the output.  It also uses a variety of fonts and colors to spice it up further.  Even better, you can manually tweak a number of settings and it will rework the label cloud for you until you have something you like.  As of just prior to this post, my cloud looks something like this:

I encourage you to try Wordle and see what it makes of your favorite blog.  Now that I've written all of that, I'm getting little bells in my head that this may also have been covered by Thomas McEntee over at Geneabloggers.  This is probably the case, as I've found his blog to be very helpful and influential in getting my own blog off the ground.  You should probably go read his, too! 

Have a great weekend!