The journal of Paul M. Watson.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


TagCloud is a really nifty idea.

Firstly, it is not about tags. It is about keywords but since tags is the buzzword of the moment and the ideas are similar we all just call them tags. So it should be KeywordCloud.

Anyhoo. You input a few RSS feeds into TagCloud and it generates a list of tags/keywords that it found in your RSS feeds. It then applies styling to the keywords which indicates its popularity. The more popular the bigger the styling. This is a lot like the Flickr tags page.

For example I imported every single RSS feed I have in my Bloglines account (luckily TagCloud can use OPML) into TagCloud and got back this cloud.

Clicking one of the keywords will take you to a list of all items/articles/posts from my RSS feeds that have that keyword. Try it, click the New Orelans keyword for instance.

As I said calling them tags is confusing. TagCloud does not look for tags in the RSS feeds. Your RSS feeds don't have to be manually tagged or have categories or any such thing. It just sifts the textual content for good keywords (it uses the Yahoo! Content Analysis web service to find keywords and phrases. Notice how hurricane and hurricane katrina appears while only new orleans and not just new appears. Seems a decent content analyser to figure that out.)

TagCloud lets you create as many clouds as you want using subsets of your feeds. You can then display them on yout website with some simple JavaScript (which they provide. Sadly I can't put it into this Blogger post as SCRIPT is prohibited.)

Something like this could go far. It is simple, does one thing and does it well. Most importantly it works off of any RSS source you can throw at it. It isn't restricted to photos or links or documents. Even just the idea of it is good enough for other implementations to be made. A Ruby version say to plug into your Rails site.


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