28 July 2008


This is what Tony would term a 'cup-holder' post — something to keep you interested while a more substantial post remains in gestation. The picture is a version of what Wordle does to the last paragraph of my post about Kileshwar, Gujarat. The size of the words is proportional to how often they appear in the input text. The colours and layout are not proportional to anything, but can be chosen from a limited range of options. The wordlerised version seems to present its own form of meaning, similar to but more nebulous than the original text, yet different enough to stand on its own. Dave Pollard and Emma have also been wordlerising; Dave presents an interesting comparison between his own and a friend's version (read his comment carefully — it's easy to misread what I'm certain is deliberate).

Of course, the 'meaning' depends hugely on what text you choose. And, on what you choose to read into it. Here, more, than in sentences and phrases, individual words seem to accrue and convey meaning according to their context, yet (or perhaps consequently) some words seem to leap out, even when they're small.

To what degree is this 'me'?

1. I arrived back in the Valley on Saturday after a much-needed week away, on the coast, out of phone and internet access, with a swag of photos and a bit of scribbled writing. More posts will follow.

2. A warning: wordle is a superb time-waster.

© 2008 Pete McGregor


Annoy mouse said...

And here is your blog about wordle wordlerised by me. http://wordle.net/gallery/wrdl/97709/pete%27s_blog
I chose randomise and eventually settled on this colourful, soft, round style which I find far more aesthetically pleasing than yours. Yours has a masculine font that is earthy in colour, suggesting someone who is comfortable with nature and the outdoors. Being organised into two planes, rather than one, shows some desire to have an ordered life whilst holding onto some constructed disarray. The shape is a little rigid and it’s symmetry may give the appearance of being stationary but is poised ready to take off, difficult to pin down.

It is only fair that I analyse my own – the colours have no definite colour scheme and with such a wide range of colours ranging from purple to black it is difficult to ascertain if I am female or male. The font is curvy but slippery with no mature style, indicating that I am fairy young in age, still needing to settle down in life but having a defiant gesture, suggesting that I desire to get my own way. The words are all over the place reflecting that I am disorganised. But they come together to form a shape that is warm and cuddly, like a comfy bed, suggesting overall harmlessness and niceness.

Bob McKerrow said...

A 'cup-holder' post, wordle or wordleisation are not important matters. The important thing is the how the Wordsmith chooses to write and does anyone fully understand his writings ? I enjoy your writings, philosophy and photos. You have warmed up a stormy day for me.



pohanginapete said...

Annoy mouse, well done :^) Unfortunately, I can't view your wordle; it might be a javascript problem so I'll see if I can view it on my desktop computer — but that will have to wait until the power's reconnected at home. We had a major storm a few days ago; trees going down everywhere, taking out power and phone lines. I can't access the internet from home, so it might be a little while before I can view your wordle. Thanks, though — I'm curious!

Bob, very true — wordles can be fun and intriguing, but they're style, not substance. I'm glad you appreciate my original work. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

To make this sort of psycho-babble 'analysis' of computer graphics takes the time-wasting potential of a fairly useful tool to the ultimate!
How self-indulgent can you be? You let yourself and your normally interesting blog down to a poor level with this sort of rubbish.

Anne-Marie said...

Annoy Mouse, since I don't know any thing about you, I thought I would analyse you based on your comment.

1. You are female.
2. You either know Pete in real life or you are a long-time commenter writing under a pseudonym.
3. You live in the southern hemisphere, probably New Zealand. You might be in America but definitely not in Europe.

So, Annoy Mouse, how did I do?

Pete, I hope you are coping in the aftermath of the storm and all returns to normal for you soon. Although I only live 100km from you we had nothing here; plenty of rain, but not the slightest breath of wind. Usually there is at least some breeze by the river – not that day! Yet all around us was chaos. Very, very weird.

annoy mouse said...

I'm impressed - you are mostly correct:
1. I confess to being female, although my psychological profile has many "male" traits and my finger length comparison is male.

2. I don't know Pete but often read his blog - I came across it a few months ago by random. I especially enjoy his photography. I have never commented before on his blog but have commented on others - I like flicking through the next blog button to see where I end up. I work shifts and find it helps me switch off before I sleep. I have read your blog.

3.I do live in the Southern hemisphere and not in Europe, but neither New Zealand or America. Which narrows down the choices.

Your journalist instinct serves you well!

Pete - I'm curious, you don't tell me if you agree with my analysis.

butuki said...

Pete, sometimes it's good just to be silly and have a little fun! Sitting down to write serious prose all the time can really extract a lot of energy, especially when you're trying to couple it with well-selected photos. This wordle was definitely a surprise when I opened your blog, but for me it only shows that you're not bogged down by routine. I enjoyed it enough to try my own... my paragraph selection must have coincided with a particularly bad day! Did a lot better with a random selection from my blog.

Annoy Mouse, if you're from the southern hemisphere and not from New Zealand or America or Europe, then, well, it's pretty obvious. You spell "color" "colour", "randomize" "randomise", and use the word "whilst", which is uncommon among North Americans. And I take it you're don't live in any of the other south of the equator countries, except perhaps South Africa. Most males don't think of themselves as "cuddly", so you're definitely female. All this without even looking at your wordle! (^J^)/"

pohanginapete said...

The power has been reconnected and the series of violent storms has, according to the met service, finished. Normal service is resuming.

Anonymous, please read my earlier response to Bob's comment. Dissent is welcome, but please keep it courteous. Glad you normally appreciate the blog.

Anne-Marie, it's hard to imagine how you escaped so lightly. The wind during the mid-week storm shook my house like a series of earthquakes; the destruction around the valley, particularly higher on the slopes of the Ruahine will take months to remedy. Nice work on Annoy mouse's comment, too. Thanks for enjoying the fun :^)

Annoy mouse, nature and the outdoors are definitely important to me, and I like the idea of some kind of constructive tension between order and disarray in my life. As for being poised for take-off, difficult to pin down, well, I like the idea; I'd like to believe it's true, but others who know me better are probably better able to say whether that's the case. You've done well; cheers for getting things going :^)

Miguel, that's it exactly —life would be dreadful if we had to be deadly serious without respite. Thanks for joining in the fun — and I loved the cicada audio on your blog; a much-appreciated reminder of heat and long evenings :^)

jacqueline b said...

"wordles can be fun and intriguing, but they're style, not substance".
Ah, you're skating on thin ice there, don't you think, suggesting that style and substance can be prised apart?
I found the wordle intriguing, even though, like astrology, it's constitued by so many variables that it's hard to know how useful or accurate it would be, but, like astrology, I like the idea.

pohanginapete said...

Jacq — true! You got me there. I fell right into the dualistic trap I've dissed so often. Thanks :^)

peregrina said...

Thanks for introducing this. I hadn't come across it before, and have enjoyed having a little play. What I found most fun was changing the layout of a wordle and then reading words quickly as they popped back onto the screen. The largest words appear first, so there's a temporal as well as a size emphasis on the words used most often, and they evoke associations which are sometimes independent of the original text, sometimes linked to it.

(BTW, I thought a bit about the word "wordlerised" and decided I preferred "wordled", as it is analogous to "doodled", based on the supposition that "wordle" is derived from "doodle". Oh! This is beginning to sound like Dennis Glover's Magpie having a bad day. "Wordle-doodle-ardle-quardle-oodle..." )

Annoy Mouse:
I couldn't get through to your wordle by the link either, so I played around using the text you said you'd used and following such information as you had given regarding font, layout, and so on. I wonder if any of my results were anything like your wordle? The only thing I could be sure of was word size. I then tried the paragraph in which you analyse your wordle, and the first word to arrive was always SUGGESTING. Does that suggest anything to you?!

Pete, as for the matter of this post being, as you say, less substantial than usual: the day after I first read it I came across this comment by Douglas Hofstadter in the Introduction to his book "Metamagical Themas". He was writing about the wide disparity in the seriousness of its different topics. "... life itself is a mixture of things of many sorts, little and big, light and serious, frivolous and formidable, and "Metamagical Themas" reflects that complexity. Life is not worth living if one can never afford to be delighted or have fun."

Besides, I believe that an important well-spring of creativity is play. Wordling using the website may not be very creative in itself, but if nothing else it does give another perspective on words. Perhaps the next step is to eschew the computer and wordle manually, thus having more scope for artistic expression? A pastime for a day confined to a hut by foul weather, maybe?


pohanginapete said...

Peregrina, “wordled” does indeed fit well. I had in mind the phonetic resemblance to “bowdlerised”, but the connotations are less relevant than “wordled”. And you've certainly made a very important point about the importance of play. Patterns of thought easily become fixed, and what breaks those patterns has a valuable role by encouraging exploration. Maybe next time I'm struggling to write, I'll try your suggestion and just wordle on paper. Thanks!

PATERIKA HENGREAVES, Poet Laureate said...

So you called this Wordlerised! It is beautiful, the arrangement of colour, uppercase characters, lowercase characters, vertical and horizontal arrangement. This wordart is truly amazing. Indeed, it is visualized poetry. Its imagery brings many thoughts to my mind. I see a picture of the world full of turmoil spinning out of control. Then again, I see tranquility in the pale colours and lowercase letters and so much more. Oh, the layers in it are multifaceted so tell me what you see?