October 8, 2008

Debate word clouds.

McCain's words, processed into cloud form:



(Enlarge.)

Obama's cloud:



(Enlarge.)

Observations? I'll start with a few:

1. I wish I could exclude all the boring words like "going."

2. McCain is much more likely than Obama to say "America" or "Americans."

3. McCain says "friends" a lot more, but I don't think it's because he loves us more.

4. As I noticed live-blogging last night, Obama has the quirk of labeling things "important."

5. The most interesting words -- like "Jell-O" and "corpse" -- were only said once and stay off of their clouds. I'd like a program that makes a graphic of all the words that only appear once. They're especially... important.

51 comments:

chuck b. said...

"Sen"? He actually spoke the written abbreviation?

chuck b. said...

I don't like the proponderance of vertical words.

They could all be horizontal and still be visually appealling. This is off-putting.

bleeper said...

Need to add "Gimme a cigarette" to Barry's cloud of B.S.

He has admitted that he still smokes. Yep, great presidential material there - deep thinker, takes care of himself, wants to live long enough to see his children grow up, etc. Spark 'em if you got 'em, chump.

David said...

Chuck--He said "sin."

chuck b. said...

McCain's cloud looks like Alabama tipped over, and Obama's is Vermont or New Hampshire. (I can never remember which one is which.)

rastajenk said...

Misspelled Pakistan in Obama's; should be Pah-kistan.

Original George said...

I hope that Americans will join with me in having the common sense and the courage to overlook such bizarre, shallow, sensationalist gimmicky as word clouds. With our vision, principles, and pride, we will find the courage to reform such trickery. Word clouds betray us with their liberal designs. Self-empowerment, liberty, and freedom will light the way, not decayed linguistic schemes that devour our God-given reason. Word clouds destroy the family structure of sentences. Even whole paragraphs, dare I say it, essays stand at risk, if we do not confront this sick menace. Join me in my crusade for grammar, diction, and, yes, the very elements of style upon which this great nation was founded. Sentence diagramming today! Sentence diagramming tomorrow! Sentence diagramming forever!

Podunk said...

Indeed, the cloud seems to be based just off term frequency, with no recognition that some terms are more important than others. While they did seem to drop some very common words (I don't see "the", etc.), they probably should've been more aggressive about that.

An even better approach (the one used by search engines) is to take the term frequency and multiply it by something that captures the rarity of a word. (In search engine terms, the inverse document frequency.) They could probably figure out what those were using a generic collection of news articles or political speeches. But since I'm too lazy to do all that myself, I guess I can't fault them for being too lazy to do it, too.

Christy said...

From Obama's word cloud, "make" "think" and "Tax" jump out at me. Fits with my notions of the man. He will make us do what he wants, his only experience is with thinking, and he will tax the productive workers and the investment class to repay his voters with goodies.

Yes, I'm depressed.

David said...

What would my world cloud as an observer of the debate be?

HUH? You're kidding me? But, what about? Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Boring. Brokaw, you fool. HUH? HUH? Nothing new. WHERE"S THE REMOTE, HONEY?

Henry said...

Ann, It looks like you used the Blue Chill palette for McCain. Is the Obama palette custom?

* * *

David. LOL. That was me for ten minutes until my wife kicked me out of the room.

Revenant said...

I was thinking about Obama's claim that McCain never mentioned the middle class in last night's debate.

Looking at this word cloud, I'm wondering -- did Obama mention America? I don't see the word in his cloud. I'm probably just missing it.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Word clouds are a Typical Distraction from the real issue in this campaign, which is whatever it would benefit me the most to have people talking about at the moment.

Simon said...

Ann - I created the word cloud you requested in observation #1.

bearbee said...

O/T Martial Law threatened?

MadisonMan said...

Are the words horizontal or vertical for any particular reason? I can't figure that out.

Simon said...

bearbee said...
"O/T Martial Law threatened?"

C'mon. Let's be realistic. That's an old standby. It's what the Democrats said before the last election - "like OMG!, if Bushhitler luzes, he's not going to leave office, he's going to have MARTIAL LAW?! and start a dr4ft!"

Simon said...

MadisonMan, it's a setting you can tweak in wordle. I did one for Obama's convention speech in August.

Rose said...

Palin's on right now - WOW!

She just nailed - Barack or Biden ? - not sure which - on changing the position on drilling - says what that tells me he won't drill for oil for the right reasons, but will drill for VOTES... I don't have the exact words, it was way more concise - geez... she is GOOD!

Synova said...

I just realized that the two word clouds use different fonts. Obama's is squished. Is it squished so words can be taller?

I'm not sure what difference it makes but it ruins the value of comparing the patterns.

Synova said...

Oh, I disagree about taking out the common words. If those were gone we wouldn't have the prominent "going" in Obama's cloud and "know" in McCain's.

sydney said...

"Obama has the quirk of labeling things 'important.' "

He also has the quirk of starting a sentence with "Look." I find that annoying and slightly condescending.

the Rising Jurist said...

The problem is that the number of words they said only one time (600+ for each) starts maxing out what the wordle applet can handle. I managed to get it to display 450 before it just got stuck.

And at that number, the words become fairly difficult to pick out of the cloud, as they are all the same tiny size.

KLDAVIS said...

Interesting contrast between think and know in the two graphics.

Marcia said...

America, American, and Americans are all prominent in McCain's cloud.

None of them are prominent (assuming they're there somewhere) in Obama's.

vbspurs said...

McCain's cloud looks like Alabama tipped over, and Obama's is Vermont or New Hampshire. (I can never remember which one is which.)

Chuck B. hee! I looked at the pics, and came up with a similar schtick. Then I saw you posted it.

For the record, I was going to say that McCain's cloud looked Kansas-y, whereas Obama's was more Montana-ish.

I say this fully realising how dumb Kansas-y sounds.

Cheers,
Victoria

GOPJuliana said...

I'm disappointed the biggest word in Obama's cloud isn't "Uh".

vbspurs said...

Very interesting, now that I am nitpicking the words.

OBAMA'S CLOUD

All these are small cloud words: Create. Reason. Trying. Thinking. Jobs.

MCCAIN'S CLOUD

Whereas these are McCain's small cloud words: Attack. Stabilise. Beneficially. Confidence. Ability.

What can we take away from these two sets of clouds?

That Obama had more feeling than thinking on his mind last night? That he was talking of vision, rather than action?

And is McCain's cloud more negative, less upbeat, less inspiring?

In short, isn't that what we thought of each guy going into the debate, and these clouds just confirm it?

Nah, it's just clouds. Make a cloud of Althouse commenters' words, and it would also bemuse.

Cheers,
Victoria

peter hoh said...

Assuming the headline to this post is an imperative sentence, I'm for 'em.

Skyler said...

Okay, but what the heck is "sen" and why have both candidates used that non-word?

vbspurs said...

I'm guessing that "Sen" comes from the transcript of the debate. They probably uploaded the transcription of the debate into a cloud creator, abbreviations and all.

mccullough said...

Did anyone else notice that Obama mentioned tackling some problem "in my first term." Perhaps he can tell us what he's going to do "in my second term."

I, me, mine are big words for him. He's very narcissistic.

SaysMeow said...

The unique word list (for both candidates) starts...

abandon above abridge abroad acceptable account accounts acquires acquiring acres acted acting activities add administration adverse adviser advocate advocated Affairs affordability Afghans African age agency aid AIG Air alliances ally alternate alternatives although American's among amount analysis angry annihilation annually answer answered anybody anymore anyone apparatchiks appropriate approved April Arabia archaic areas arguing army aspect asset assistance asthma audience awful back-and-forth Baghdad bailing banking banks base-closing bases basically battery-powered bear bearing began beginning behalf

Later we find an explanation of the financial crisis:

finally finance fined fines fingers Fiorra fired fixes flat-lined follow fool

Will the audacity of hope impair new energy sources?

hopeful hopes humiliation hungry hunt hunting hurting hybrid hydrogen idea

vbspurs said...

battery-powered bear

Obama mentioned Teddy Ruxpin??

Worst. Debate. Ever.

Der Hahn said...

I agree with vb. 'Sen' is probably an artifact of the transcript the clouds are based on.

'American' does appear in Obama's cloud. Smaller than 'Pakistan', running vertically just right of 'McCain'.

'Iran' in Obama's cloud is larger than 'Iraq'.

Obama said 'Tom' often enough for it to appear in his cloud.

vbspurs said...

Obama said 'Tom' often enough for it to appear in his cloud.

You're doing great, Jim.
You're doing great, Tom.
You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie.

Simon said...

Victoria - actually I think this is the battery-operated bear he had in mind.

Lem said...

So, it turned out I was right last night.

My weatherman's brother was at debate and he did asked a question.

(OK, just another coincidence, dont get carried away)

http://tinyurl.com/3u3tx4

Cedarford said...

sydney said...
"Obama has the quirk of labeling things 'important.' "

He also has the quirk of starting a sentence with "Look." I find that annoying and slightly condescending.


Nothing like McCain's 30-year habit of calling people like Cranston, Kerry, Graham, Teddy, My:

"Welcome...25 year loving DC...Dear Friends!"

Terminal "Senatoritis."

Justin said...

I don't see "dinosaur" in either cloud. Am I missing it?

vbspurs said...

Victoria - actually I think this is the battery-operated bear he had in mind.

That's the She-Bear 2000 XL, Simon. It comes with 5-speeds including "Earthquake".

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

'Kay, guys, I hope Miss Ann has a thread for the vicious night of interviews we have on Wednesday. To recap:

Larry King Live, CNN, Michelle Obama, 9 PM EST.

Hannity & Colmes, FNC, Palin WITH McCain, Part 1, 9 PM EST.

Greta Van Susteren, FNC, Palin solo, 10 PM EST.

I'll be here with bells on!

Eli Blake said...

Here is my pet quirk to these 'clouds.' (you have to enlarge to see it.)

In McCain's cloud, just above 'Sen' is a little tiny "Fannie."

After "thank" you will find a slightly larger and vertical "may."

Eli Blake said...

victoria:

'vicious' night of interviews?

ha, ha.

Larry King never asks anybody a question that isn't a creampuff question (I think we had a discussion about that not so long ago) and you know darn well that the FOX news people are going to pitch softballs to McCain and especially to Palin (though likely pinata softballs loaded with opportunities to respond with personal attacks on Obama.)

jdeeripper said...

Word clouds remind me of the classic Wilder Penfield homunculus showing relative brain use by anatomy.

Here's the perfect homunculus of a blogger/blog commentator

All hands and mouth....type, type type, blah, blah, blah...

Roger J. said...

I now live in a fascinating world. I no longer have a TV, my third ex-wife getting the flat screen TV in the settlement. Life is actually good, and I can now see events or reality filtered through the various blogs and on line news in the internet. I can range from DU and Kos to Free Republic to see the third standard deviations on both sides. It is liberating--very liberating. I do miss the cooking and gardening channels, however, but am secure in my culinary and gardening talents.

Chip Ahoy said...

The word cloud neglects the haste and urgency a candidate can wedge his most favorite flogged trope, "eight years of Bush's failed economic policies." Thus beginning the hypnosis session.

vbspurs said...

Palin's on right now - WOW!

She just nailed - Barack or Biden ? - not sure which - on changing the position on drilling - says what that tells me he won't drill for oil for the right reasons, but will drill for VOTES... I don't have the exact words, it was way more concise - geez... she is GOOD!


Miss Rose! I can't believe you were watching that at the same time I was, and thinking the same thing.

If you guys missed it, including Ann, here it is.

Palin's Latest Obama Zinger

Wow, indeed. :)

Cheers,
Victoria

Skyler said...

I get it now.

"sen" = abbreviation for "senator"

Kirk Parker said...

lem,

Your big achievement here, which you too quickly gloss over in your humility, is having a weatherman in the first place, much less knowing who his brother is. How many people here have a weatherman? I sure don't.




Oh, wait--

Are you talking about Bill Ayers? [checking...] Nope, I don't have one of those, either.

The Deacon said...

The words I noticed:
Obama: Health, Energy, Think

McCain: People, Going, Obama