Pedagogy of Words

David Parry bio photo By David Parry


I saw this first at Matthew Kirschenbaum’s blog, a simple tool to produce TagClouds from any text. At TagCrowd you can upload a text file or just copy and paste. The site will then produce a TagCloud representing up to 300 of the most common words from the text you choose. This has its teaching uses, as Matthew suggests, if you are discussing a text for class you can produce a TagCloud to give students a sense of the reoccurring words and their relative presence. One of the things that I try to get students to do in writing is focus on the details of word choice, and this strikes me as a way to open that conversation. It could perhaps be a bit overused, I think of the text processor from If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. But today I used it to produce the TagCloud above, which was extremely useful. I have been working on the introduction to my dissertation, and I thought it might be useful to produce a TagCloud for a particular chapter. This gave me a good sense of the words I was using, and another perspective on my writing. (For those who care this is a chapter about Jackson’s Patchwork Girl)