Sunday, January 16, 2011

An Experiment with Tagul and a Poem

I'm enrolled in a class to earn a new credential: a Preliminary Administrative Services Credential (PASC).

Among other things, a school administrator should be a leader in using technology, so this PASC class includes some how-to sessions on using technology, one being TAGUL.

Tagul allows you to take a body of text and have it analyzed for most often used words. After some edit options, the result is a poster-esque rendition of key words.

The Tuscon tragedy is in the news and on the opinion pages. I thought it would be interesting to try Tagul's analysis on a recent Op-Ed piece by Franck Rich that appeared in the New York Times on January 15th. (After creating the cloud in Tagul... opps... I deleted it.)

Then I did more work; this time on a poem by Robert Frost. I suppressed words like the, and, etc., and added a link so that if you click on a word... it goes to an online dictionary. (Think of the possibilities for teaching a reading lesson to young students who lack all the vocabulary: an easy, visual, exciting way to access the text.) Cool.

Here are the results:


  1. Tagul looks like which I have used. It is also a thing you sometimes have to play with to coach the "right" results. Don, when is the last time you "went to school". I took a preaching course a few years ago, and that is my most recent experience. I did another stint a few years before that. I study all the time, but do it within the discipline of my work and under under the discipline of academia.

  2. I meant "not under the discipline of academia". It's different. Although I somewhat have a reputation for being a "scholar" (my head is full of stuff that other people don't bother to know), I am academically completely undisciplined. When I was in seminary I was tempted to attempt a Ph.D. but couldn't make up my mind where to concentrate or focus.

  3. @Dennis: Tagul is like Wordle, but with hyper-links. Each cloud's word is click-able to either a Google search (the default) or whatever website you specify for the cloud. I hooked the Frost poem to an online, elementary dictionary. I agree, sometimes you have to coach the results by black-listing certain words. More info here:

  4. @Dennis: The last formal program I went through was for my credential and masters which I completed in 2000. This is the first program that is not affiliated with a college; it's through the Orange County Department of Education. But it is accredited... and under the discipline of academia. After my masters, I longed for the undisciplined nature of personal inquiry. A self-prescribed course of study may be more interesting, but generally travels at a much slower pace. (Academia is a bit of a forced march.) ;-) (But you get somewhere.) PhD is more than twice as grueling as a Masters. No thanks, but I applaud anyone who has navigated the process.

  5. Good luck with everything!

    What a cool way to look at text in a new way. I need to show this to my boys who profess to "hate" literature. Maybe I'll awaken some interest in them. I hope!

  6. Great, Don. I love this Tagul of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. It's beautiful to one who loves words as I do, but also visually appealing, like a painting or photograph.