Monday, August 25, 2008

Tag clouds

We talk often about the idea of a 'disruptive technology'. The fascinating part for me is the notion that we don't often see it coming when it happens. So often, the technology began with a different intention, focus or goal from the way it's used when it radically changes a process. I assure you, no one in higher education IT saw the CMS coming: enterprise-level support, hardware, online courses, resources flying out the door. Overnight.

I'm wondering if our understanding of qualitative research is about the experience the same transformational change. Social network analysis. Thread and trend software. And my favorite: tag clouds. I used them in my dissertation so that the participants could better SEE consensus as it emerged.
I used ManyEyes, but have recently discovered Wordle, which is easier, quicker and prettier for the narrow application of tag clouds of text. Here's my dissertation, summed up in one cloud. Is THAT what it was about? Who knew?

For the technology to be truly disruptive, we're going to need some early adopters demonstrating affordance. Hop in. Show us your tags.

Colleen's dissertation made visual
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