Sunday, February 26, 2006

Words, patterns and maps

It's been a lazy day of doing nothing constructive apart from a bit more editing of my sister-in-law's thesis. I didn't get out at all so there were no Sunday papers for me to read but I got through the rest of yesterday's Guardian before I did a bit of pointless web-surfing. As pointless as it was, I managed to find a few things that appeal to my interest in words, patterns and maps.

If you look at my sidebar, you'll see a new search facility, known as a swiki, that is tailored for this blog. I'm not sure how comprehensively it looks at this blog before searching elsewhere but it definitely works. So, for example, search for 'cape town' and one or more of my blog entries as well as websites linked to me will be returned at the top of the search results. According to eurekster who developed it, a swiki is 'a search engine that learns from your community'. The 'buzz cloud' of search words is updated dynamically to show which words are popular in searches using the swiki. I still need to check to what extent this is true.

(If anyone knows how to open a new window from a script in a sidebar, please let me know - I can't get my swiki to work that way.)

I find 'clouds' ('buzz clouds', 'tag clouds', 'word clouds', etc) rather visually appealing so when I saw a link on Xmichra's blog on how to create your own word cloud extracted from the words on your blog, I immediately created my own.

reluctant nomad's word cloud
Even more visually appealing are maps so I was really chuffed to find the perfect site for indulging my liking of them. I lost several hours exploring the Atlas of Cyberspaces. One of the most fascinating links you'll find there is one for TextArc where you'll have access to 'an innovative way of visualising the structure of a corpus of text'.
textarc from alice in wonderland
The above image is a static one taken from TextArc's 'reading' of Alice in Wonderland. It's fascinating watching the creation of links between words as the software processes the entire book.

TextArc is a totally interactive piece of software that is linked to Project Gutenberg so you are able to 'read' thousands of a famous works.

It doesn't look as if the site has been updated for quite a while now so although it says that a facility for reading other texts such as web pages is in development, there is no indication of when it will be available. I'd love to be able to get it to read this blog.


Anonymous xmichra said...

that's a pretty cool map. thinking the arc process woud be cool to insert into your own blog. hmm.. i am going to go look closer at this now.

2:28 am  
Blogger andrea said...

I just took a good look at your sidebar and you are definitely the sidebar king! There are some things there that I should investigate further .... after I catch up on my sleep! All you need now is audio and a little annoying animation, like at Artwork Anonymous, and you'll provide The Total Blog Experience.

4:27 am  
Blogger ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

I like the swicki. Seeems like a novel thing to put in your side-bar.
Andrea is right. You are well on your way to becoming the side-bar king.

7:06 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

xmichra: glad you like it. I could have spent many hours playing with those 'maps'.

andrea: are you suggesting that my sidebar is on the verge or edging over into annoyance? :-)

chitty: it's good to have a second subject in my kingdom of the sidebars.

8:45 am  
Blogger Rob7534 said...

It's been days Nomad! Update please.

Everyone seems to be in some Blogger hiatus!

10:22 am  
Anonymous patita said...

oh wow, I'd forgotten all about that text map of Alice in Wonderland... I'll go through my stuff from when I was a student of these things ( and see if there isn't anything else in there you might enjoy!

4:44 am  
Blogger Caroline said...

There is still plenty of room for more sidebar... its a bar that's always open...

10:08 am  
Blogger Caroline said...

And courtesy of

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Reluctant nomad!

1. There is no lead in a lead pencil - it is simply a stick of graphite mixed with reluctant nomad and water.
2. The international dialling code for reluctant nomad is 672.
3. The first domain name ever registered was reluctant
4. Reluctant nomad can sleep for three and a half years.
5. The Vikings believed that the Northern lights were caused by reluctant nomad as he rode out to collect warriors slain in battle!
6. During severe windstorms, reluctant nomad may sway several feet to either side.
7. Reluctant nomad can run sixty-five kilometres an hour - that's really fast!
8. A reluctant nomadometer is used to measure reluctant nomad.
9. Reluctant nomad was first grown in America by the grandmother Maria Ann Smith, from whom his name comes.
10. Two grams of reluctant nomad provide enough energy to power a television for over twenty-three hours!

10:37 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

rob: nice to know I have been missed!

patita: send me all you can find - thanks!

caroline: I like those! It reminds me of that meme where you do a google on your name and take the first 10 unique references to your name. That site looks like fun but I can't find the 'Ten Top Trivia Tips'

7:19 pm  
Blogger Caroline said...

I assume you've found it on my blog now.... sorry i didn't give the full url...

8:40 am  

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