I really am this eloquent.
Above is a tag cloud created in a few seconds by the ingenious Wordle, a simple internet utility. Word clouds can be made from anything: any text, website, blog, or feed [del.icio.us users can create clouds for any user, for example]. They are a quick way to get a sense of topic breadth and tone in any writing sample. They're also a sort of sub-genre of poem. This one here highlights how important I find space, that I tend to exaggeration, and how much I like to rely on vagueness [you know, I'm talking about "shit" and "things" here. Also, BoingBoing].
Simple navigable menus and an array of color and font options make your creations easily customizable. The larger the source of the text, the more complex they can get.
Take this one, created by Stephen over at Weather Sealed. It shows the results of a linguistic analysis designed to get at the differences between Southerner ("Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas") and Yankee ("New Jersey, New York, Maine, and everything in between") by looking at over 4,000 random feeds from a popular networking site.
As Stephen rightly points out:
What we have here is two solid blocks of differential Zeitgeist, chock full of inter-regional revelations. Yankees refer more to summer and winter - probably because in Dixie, the seasons are rarely more than a curiosity, but to the north, the difference between August and January is fundamental. Northerners tend to reference books, while the South seems more preoccupied with the doctor. Then, there’s the aforementioned profanity – with Yankees preferential to the F-word, and my dear Southerners given to damn, frankly.
It's a perfect illustration of qualitative research applications, which is why I'm probably using Wordle to help present my undergraduate thesis research [whenever data decides to come in].
While I'm at it...
Kahlil Gibran's The Madman