Notes on “tag clouding” Twitter

I’m working on my HASTAC/P3 presentation. I want a back channel where the audience can provide feedback/ assessment of the session. The idea is to see if the audience can give feedback with a combination of a controlled vocabulary and free tagging. (As opposed to using a big rubric.)

I looked at a couple Twitter-centric tools with the thought that the audience can readily come prepared to Tweet from a range of mobile devices. What is needed is a cloud of the tweets @UserID and some coaching for the audience to tweet with tags.

tweetcloud.com/ embedded in their web page. I used @nilspeterson as a search and it says there isn’t a cloud.

mytweetcloud.com/ will get the hashtags from a user ID. UserID nilspeterson worked, This is getting the content that the user tweets, not what is tweeted @UserID.

So to get around the above problem, you need the RSS of the tweets @UserID and that is protected by the Twitter user’s password. Yahoo Pipes can retrieve the @UserID content by passing in the required authentication. You need to embed username:password in the URL used in Pipes. (not totally secure, but workable).  Pipes will do a reasonable job filtering tweets –for example, I can get them for a date range. Here is the pipe I’ve created for user nilspeterson
http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.run?_id=c0f7b2078b6ad4aa8e835dfdde927644&_render=rss

wordle.net will take the RSS from Yahoo and makes a handsome display (below). The @UserID comes thru big (duh!), but this might not be a problem — it documents who is getting the feedback. The StopList is hardwired and can’t have any additional words added, so blocking the @UserID would need to happen in Pipes. Wordle requires using it on their page (a setup issue and no embed), they say You may not copy or redistribute the Wordle applet itself under any circumstances. Refreshing the page is a pain and not practical. Need another tool that can imbed.

IBM ManyEyes won’t work because you need to upload a static dataset to them.

www.tag-cloud.de can create an embeddable Flash from the feed. It makes a pretty handsome cloud, and in you can link from words in the cloud to web pages., but they process the tags in the URL once so the resulting cloud its static (no auto updates unless you do it on their site).

Diverse Group Tag Cloud (DGTC) is a WordPress plug in. Its not certified in version the version 3.x of WP used by NilsPeterson.com. First attempt with it does not seem to work.

Candidates
TagCrowd.com Will take the RSS output from Yahoo. It has a customizable stop list, which will be needed to prune the junk from Yahoo (if I can’t get Yahoo Pipes to do the pruning). Takes awhile to get a personal stop list to show up in the pick list on the site. Image below is unfiltered by a stop list to show the problems. There is an embed HTML option, which would allow getting the cloud off their page — I assume it updates when the page loads. This is fairly promising.

Google Docs spreadsheet. In the top cell put the function =ImportFeed(“http://news.google.com/?output=atom”).  Then need to use Google’s word cloud gadget to make the rendering and publish the gadget and display on a web page (see below). Need this to refresh on a regular basis.

Alternative (non-Twitter) Method
An alternative would be to skip Twitter and use a Google Docs form. This avoids the need for Yahoo and for stop lists. It would still work with many mobile devices.

Whats up with Google Docs?
Google is moving to a new version of Spreadsheet. The new version does not support Gadgets (even Google’s own). The old version does, but its flaky. For today, the focus needs to be on the non-Google solutions.

Google Workaround
So, what about using Google Forms to fill a spreadsheet, publish it, take Yahoo Pipes to pick it up and feed it to TagCrowd? That seems like a reasonable next experiment.

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