Discover Your Inner Geek!

The Shape of the Tag Cloud

I’m embarrassed to admit that I always though tag clouds were just decoration. I suppose I should have started to wonder after noticing that this brand of trimming was quite ubiquitous amongst the various blogs I was perusing. Thanks goodness for the Discover Your Inner Geek course!

I wasn’t sure how useful this Tag Cloud was until I discovered that I could click on one of the tags and see all the entries with the selected tag collected for me. With this discovery things started to click. Interestingly enough I found my eye being drawn to the smaller tags in the Tag Cloud. Often the smaller less used tags were more specific and described the given entry more narrowly – often making the smaller bits of the cloud more useful. 

The article “Tag Clouds Are Bad (Usually)” made some very good points. I certainly agree that if the goal of a Tag Cloud is to add layers of meaning to the list of tags than the order of the list should also be meaningful, as opposed to alphabetical (which is not meaningful in most cases). I would suggest that ordering the list of tags according to the order in which the tags appear in the content mights be more useful for some content. Tags could also be listed in order of their relationship to the topic of the content.

I think that the users of Tag Clouds should take the advice suggested at the end of the “Cloud Tags: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” and carefully consider how a Tag Cloud would be useful to the readers of the content. It seems that for some content Tag Clouds aren’t useful.

Tag Clouds-Not my “thing”.

Tag Clouds are not my thing. Each of my own documents that I tried to turn into a tag cloud looked horrible. The best cloud was created when I typed in my husband’s website. This time actual words finally appeared. Not the jibberish that was generated from my own documents. Colin might be actually able to use this type of tool to create some sort of promotional material for his teaching (he is a musician-who gives lessons out of our home). I have to admit it looks pretty cool but useful? Not for me.

In developing my tag cloud, I also started to wonder about accessibility and using tags. In emailing with Cheryl, my main question about tags has been answered. I wondered if cloud tags are useful to those who use a screen reader to assist them with the web. The answer is no. In Cheryl’s experience, screen readers such as JAWS cannot read cloud tags unless they are properly configured to be accessible.

I wonder if this is something we can talk about within our “geekdom”. What things do we need to consider when using technology to make it accessible to all?  What things should we avoid?  Etc.