Views on a book

I have been completing the index for my digital scholarship book and thought I'd share some thoughts on different views of the book. I put the entire text through Wordle to produce the following tag cloud:


I then restricted this view to only 50 words:


And by way of comparison, here is a draft of the index in Scribd:

The Digital Scholar – Index

Two questions arise for me: do these representations reveal anything to me, as author? And do any of them provide useful insight or make you as potential reader, interested?

The word clouds contain some pretty obvious terms (if digital, open or scholarship weren't in big letters, we'd all be surprised). But there may be some subtlety in there too. The qualifiers and adjectives may be revealing, for example the prominence of 'may' and 'might' indicates that I am hedging a lot of terms, so maybe (there I go again) suggests it is a considered, balanced approach and not a mainfesto. Also the presence of 'significant', 'change' and 'new' demonstrates that I am trying to grapple with a transition in 'practice'. It also highlights which words I overuse. So I think you could glean some idea both about content and approach from the word cloud. I'm just not sure it's the best way to do it.

The index is probably more revealing about content as it shows what I think are the main concepts and also the significant names. But it doesn't show as much about approach, and as an author doesn't reveal much as I compiled it. An index created by someone else would be interesting.


  1. Alan – when the book is released as a website I’m hoping I’ll be able to do a tag cloud type navigation. Of the two representations above it is the human index that would work better as a tag cloud I guess. Or just google
    Carl – yes they’re a bit naff now, like stone cladding. I think they’re more interesting to the writer than a prospective audience. The writer knows their work, but a word cloud may reveal commonly used words (I’m guessing I over-use significant) and also something about the text as a whole. But you’re right, it’s a pretty simplistic representation and we need more complex ones than simply word frequency.

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