Wall Street Journal tag clouds compare Romney and JFK

Today’s Wall Street Journal Online uses tag clouds—the first I’ve seen on that site—to compare Mitt Romney’s statement on religion with John F. Kennedy’s statement in the fall of 1960 as he ran for president.

It’s great to see the Wall Street Journal getting into information visualization (a.k.a. “infovis” among aficionados).

No big story has popped out at me yet. Smaller stories seem to emerge as I look closer.

As you’d expect, “religion” (in Romney’s statement) and “religious” (in Kennedy’s) pop out to about the same degree in both. Kennedy’s “catholic church” also dominates, while Romney’s “church” is not so prominent. Romney’s “faith” is bigger than his “church,” while I see no word comparable to “faith”—except “catholic church”—in Kennedy’s.

Romney’s “god” sits in the third row while Kennedy’s sits way in back.

Kennedy’s secular words sit up close, for example “constitution,” “election” and “oath.” In Romney’s crowd, the ones about religious and fundamental beliefs sit close: “faith,” “freedom,” “liberty,” “god,” and “church.”

The Journal credits Chirag Mehta’s Tagline Generator script and Michael Porter’s Porter Stemming Algorithm, ported to PHP by Richard Heyes. I don’t know what Mehta’s tool does, but let’s give credit where it’s due. The function of Porter’s tool seems clear enough from the Journal’s explanation: it finds word roots, I assume to align multiple words of similar meaning into one.

I would reproduce the tag clouds here if I dared to. Information does want to be free, but I think this would go outside the bounds of fair use. If you subscribe to the Wall Street Journal Online, you can see it here.

The data industry thrives on conversation. Please submit a comment.

Other recent posts

Five Tips for Better Data Stories

Originally published on September 22, 2015 in BI This Week, a TDWI publication. A “data story” sounds like such a great idea. You just mix data with storytelling and you’re done — except that most data storytellers get one thing wrong: they drown out the story with data. Such storytellers, I believe, assume that audiences… Continue Reading

Bohemian Grove a la BI

The Bohemian Grove of the BI industry convenes for the fifteenth time in just three weeks. Naturally, you ask the obvious question: Are you serious? The Grove? A summit? The answer begins with a fond recollection of the Grove. If you’ve never attended the Bohemian Grove yourself — I haven’t, though I live in the… Continue Reading

Favorite Star Trek, a data story

This story shows how elemental data stories really are. Humans come ready to tell and hear them, requiring no plug-ins at all. This young person can do a good job of it. There was a question, followed by data, then questions and answers, and and finally a conclusion. It’s all there. It’s elementary. Sure, this… Continue Reading

Bad stories stop good data at the water cooler

We agree by now that data’s a good compass. One neglected question is tougher: Which map? Everyone’s known the kind of “grouchy guy” TDWI instructor Kellee M. Franklin, Ph.D tells about. This guy knew better than most of his co-workers about how their Washington, D.C. defense agency worked. And he was frustrated. Over the years,… Continue Reading