Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A new way of seeing The Origin and The Rough Guide to Evolution

I thank Carl Zimmer for pointing out the latest cool gadget on the net, Wordle, which lets you generate “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text and, remarkably, you can feed it a whole book at a time!

Above is what you get from Darwin's Origin of Species (Click here to access the original word cloud from Wordle).

Darwin's main preoccupation with “species” is obvious! But many other important keywords crop up: varieties, forms, conditions, many, one, natural and selection...

And here is what I got from The Rough Guide to Evolution (original word cloud here).

Nice to see the key words I would expect to get. And “Natural” lining up parallel to “Selection” is cool too! Although (or should that be “however”) I am surprised how often I use "however" and "although"! 

Feel free to load all of Darwin’s other works into Wordle—you can access them all from Darwin online!

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