Tag Clouds

A short presentation on Tag Clouds. By Tom Worthington.


A tag cloud (or weighted list in visual design) can be used as a visual depiction of content tags used on a website. Often, more frequently used tags are depicted in a larger font or otherwise emphasized, while the displayed order is generally alphabetical. Thus both finding a tag by alphabet and by popularity is possible. Selecting a single tag within a tag cloud will generally lead to a collection of items that are associated with that tag. ...

The first use of tag clouds was on the photo sharing website Flickr ...

From Tag cloud, Wikipedia, 22:03, 16 May 2007

Tag Clouds are a useful way to give the web user an index to relatively unstructured information. In effect, the tag cloud is the web equivalent to an index in the back of a book. They are also useful to get an idea of what topics, words and phrases are important to a group of people, when writing new web content.

Flickr Most popular tags

 06   africa   amsterdam   animals   april   architecture   art   asia   australia   baby   barcelona   beach   berlin   birthday   black   blackandwhite   blue   boston   bw   california   cameraphone   camping   canada   canon   car   cat   cats   chicago   china   christmas   church   city   clouds   color   concert   d50   day   dc   de   dog   england   europe   fall   family   festival   film   florida   flower   flowers   food   france   friends   fun   garden   geotagged   germany   girl   graffiti   green   halloween   hawaii   hiking   holiday   home   honeymoon   hongkong   house   india   ireland   island   italy   japan   july   kids   la   lake   landscape   light   live   london ...

From Popular Tags on Flickr Photo Sharing, Flickr, 2007

The Flickr tag clouds shows the most popular topics for photographs.

Clustering Tags Manually

Travel related?

africa amsterdam asia australia barcelona berlin boston california canada chicago china city dc de england europe florida france germany hawaii hongkong india ireland island italy japan ...


animals architecture art baby beach birthday camping car cat cats christmas church concert dog family festival film flower flowers food friends fun garden geotagged ...

The words from a tag cloud can be manually grouped into categories. These can then be used for structuring and describing new web pages.

Automated Clusters

Flickr clusters are automated clusters of tags:

Can be problems:

... I found using clusters in searches to be quite useful but at times also very counter productive, giving nonsense results. ... I live on the Central Coast in NSW, Australia and that's where I take most of my photos. ... "Central Coast", "NSW", "Australia" ... "Terrigal", "Woy Woy", "Gosford", "Skillion", ...

since there is also Central Coast in California, US, one would expect that in search for "Central Coast" result page would present separate clusters for both versions of "Central Coast" ...

however I'm completely lost at why would half of my pictures clearly tagged and geotagged as "NSW" "Australia" (and often tagged by a unique location name such as "Terrigal" which is only to be found in Australia) be categorized under "California" when I obviously don't use "California" tag ? ...

From URL: clusters - a bug ?, Pete, 17 October 2006

Automated categorization using tags, or other technologies, can cause misidentification so the author needs to keep checking. Also there may need to explain to web readers that there are same words used for different things and places in different parts of the world (and different words used for the same things).

Tag Clouds from Feeds

Tag clouds by Zoom Clouds from:

Google News feed for "Lake Macquarie":

2007 (3) australia (3) american (1) advertiser (7) achieved (12) Boys (7) brakes (14) campbelltown (5) coach (13) couple (6) dwight (3) eagles (11) elite (11) fixture (2) final (2) first (5) Guardian (6) hours (12) kyle (13) macquarie (4) mercury (2) maitland (12) national (3) nbsp (5) nationals (11) news (13) Next (9) park (11) quot (3) riot (6) Sean (4) south (9) soars (5) sydney (4) state (11) sigh (11) training (1) victory (13) where (3) wales (13) young (11)

From Lake Macquarie Council News" RSS Feed:

australia (10) awareness (10) aims (13) author visit (10) bank account (9) boyce (6) budget (8) city website (5) charlestown (4) chemicals (4) convict (6) daring (10) draft management plan (12) dp (2) direct debit (2) disability (3) development planning (1) exhibition (2) escapes (13) free household (8) free exhibition (10) human struggle (2) household chemical (1) heartbreak (2) information services (6) integrated transport (7) information professionals (2) installment (5) information week (10) iranian girl (3) improved new (3) lake macquarie city (13) library promotions (11) lake macquarie city council (4) librarian (8) lake macquarie city library (9) libraries (5) memoir (4) new development (4) origins (4) planning service (10) public hearing (11) rediscover (6) residents (11) sorrow (3) stakeholders (12) search engine (15) transport centre (10) website www (7) website features (15)

Tag clouds can be created using popular web languages, such as PHP. Zoom Clouds provides a service to create a tag cloud from a RSS or Atom Feed.

Shown is a tag cloud generated from news items about "Lake Macquarie". Here is how they look now:

From the Google News:

From Lake Macquarie Council News" RSS Feed:

More Information

Slides for these notes are also available.

I will be speaking at the 2007 China Media Conference, 5 July 2007 in Brisbane (Australia) on web design for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The web site for the conference features a poster (excerpt shown) of a Chinese Red Guard, but instead of a "Little Red Book", they are holding a PDA. This illustrates the impact the web has had on society. XML and e-publishing are likely to have as much impact.

Copyright © 18 May 2007 Tom Worthington

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