5.22.2009

Visualizing Revision, Part II

Earlier in the week, I put up a post about using tag clouds to visualize revision. It's a somewhat problematic approach, as it relies so heavily on lexical repetition, but with that known, it still shows a lot.

Now I see that RLG's Merrilee Proffitt (hi Merrilee!) is using a gadget called Wordle to visualize clouds a bit more ... artfully.

So here we go again: my dissertation, completed in 2005, on Wordle, followed by my book as of 2009:



5.17.2009

Using Tag Clouds to Visualize Revision

You probably know this: for folks in many humanities departments at large research schools like UIUC, a published academic monograph is a key part of getting tenure. That book is often derived in part from the dissertation, but there's this culture in place where, no matter how great that dissertation is, one generally has to demonstrate how much the book is different from the dissertation. This demonstration is usually done in prose.

Enter the tag cloud. Dump the text from both documents into an online clouder like tagcrowd.com, and compare results.

Here's the cloud from my dissertation, completed in 2005:


created at TagCrowd.com




And then here's the cloud of the book manuscript circa 6.2009:


created at TagCrowd.com




As you can see, some themes have stayed the same; others have disappeared or been added. For me, knowing these two documents so well, the tag clouds are detailed maps of the writing and rewriting. Each term is a pathway into so many decisions, dead ends, and productive avenues.

Next time I teach revision, I think I'll have students cloud their drafts.

5.13.2009

Non-Contact Graduation

Here at the factory we're churning out another batch of graduates, but this year with less touching advised.



To: Faculty, Staff, Students
From: Robert D. Palinkas, M.D.
Director, McKinley Health Center
Subject: Handshaking at Commencement

Because of ongoing concerns about the possibility of spreading the flu virus, students receiving degrees and their families should not shake hands at Commencement if they have symptoms of an upper respiratory infection such as fever and cough.

McKinley Health Center will provide hand sanitizer on the platform at the Assembly Hall ceremonies so that graduates can, if they wish, use it before and/or after receiving their degrees. Members of the official platform party also are encouraged to use the hand sanitizer provided.

Everyone is encouraged to observe the other guidelines to reduce the risk of infection, such as covering coughs and sneezes; avoiding touching eyes, mouth and nose; and washing hands frequently.

Robert D. Palinkas, M.D.

This mailing approved by:
The Office of the Chancellor

5.10.2009

The White House and Photoshop

News today that $350,000 in taxpayer cha-ching has been spent getting the following pic over the Statue of Liberty. (It's not even that good.)




In the news is how the White House aide who authorized the flyover has stepped down as it freaked out about half of the residents of NYC.

Do White House aides know nothing about Photoshop?

As a service to our nation, I present these additional pics highlighting other national treasures:









5.04.2009

Slap Chop

Slap your troubles away with Slap Chop. I've done it and found virtually no remaining troubles.