Small Steps – 150! – and a Geek Toy


That’s the number of chapters “Small Steps” has so far (by tonight, hopefully 151, depending on how well things go today with that other text).

I have to confess that this number already exceeds my initial story board, mainly because I had to break chapters into smaller units due to time constraints. And we’re not over yet! I won’t give you an exact estimate because that would be giving away too much of the story arc, but we might possibly hit the 200 yet.

Either way, the event calls for some celebratory graphics, which brings me to the latest geek toy that my brother told me about. Wordle is an online, Java-based applet that lets you enter any amount of text and then transforms this text into a word cloud (wordle), based on the frequency of the words in the text.

The above sample depicts the entirety of “Small Steps” so far and you can clearly see who are the leads!

Wordle has been programmed and developed by Jonathan Feinberg earlier this year and offers a variety of additional editing features, like a set of color schemes (although you can also make up your own, too), plenty of fonts, a language-specific filter to cut out “common words” and an option where you can choose whether you like your words more vertical, more horizontal, or completely akimbo. Moreover, you can keep editing once your first version has been created.

Another take on the entire draft of “Small Steps” is this:


The secret of Wordle’s appeal is, of course, that it makes us look for new layers of meaning based on the rearrangement of the words. That is the real fun. — For example, I just love the way the word “tango” shows up right within Maca’s name above, and the “little asked” underneath, since it has been stated more than once in recent days by my readers that Maca, at this point, asks for too little and should get out there and fight for what she wants. And “good women body enough” right withing Esther’s name frame? And that interesting closeness to Eva? Well… Also, that “Maca’s” right above “Esther”? Perhaps Wordle does know more than Esther herself at this point! (click to enlarge if you want to keep guessing…)

Of course, Wordle also works with shorter texts. As a try, I put chapter 147 into Wordle, and this happened:


Whom did Maca ask to dance, and whom did Esther hug…?

Of course, Wordle also turns your favorite songs into pretty word clouds. – I know what my next self-made CD covers will look like. Wordle Clouds of Lyrics! — Which famous tango is this, for example?


So if you want to while away an hour or two since your dissertation is not really advancing, (not that this would ever happen in my case…) or doing the dishes sounds is too boring or there is nothing on TV… have fun playing!

(If you are a complete nerd, you could also feed the entirety of Ariosto’s “Orlando furioso” into it. But really, who would do such a thing. Ehum.)


— I never realized they talk more about horses than about women in this book!

6 thoughts on “Small Steps – 150! – and a Geek Toy”

  1. LOL! Sounds interesting. I’ll give a try with my fic. Specially when Ms. Inspiration doesn’t come to my realms.


  2. how are we supposed to EVER get enough sleep again – let alone work! just did it with my master thesis… will go on with ulysses 😉 many hugs (not only for this)


  3. that’s a pretty cool concept indeed!! imagining, that in former times people (like me) spent days to create a typo-collage…


  4. Perfect! Next time anyone asks me what my thesis is actually about, I’ll just show them the wordle-cloud, instead of my usual feeble protestations of “Well, it’s not that simple to explain…”


  5. I remember Richard Feynman says something about the debilitating disease one can get from tinkering around with the computer when he describes his time at Los Alamos developing the A-bomb and had those room-size computers to work with! I wonder what he’d think of all the tricks the computers can do now. 🙂

    You always come up with interesting posts, Anik!


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