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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Another remix of speeches

Although this is not, strictly speaking, government information, it is about the presidential race and is an interesting complement to US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud (more on that here: remix: US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud).

This is another good demonstration of how interesting things can be done with information that is easily re-usable.

As a contrast, one can not remix documents like SUPERINTENDENT OF DOCUMENTS POLICY STATEMENT 301, because it is an image of text, not text.

More State of the Union Mashups

As we reported the other day (Remixes, Mashups in the news) there are several sites that have online tools for visualizing word use in the State of the Union speeches. Here are two more, one by Jason Giffey who is a librarian at University of Tennessee – Chattanooga.

Tag Clouds applied to GPO/FDLP

Building on James R’s post, I ran two major GPO/Council documents through Tag Crowd:

The difference in tag clouds is both striking and disturbing:

Knowledge will forever govern

Note that out of these 50 tags, four of the largest are: Government Information Public Library. Readers of FGI will know we like this outcome. It shows that Council was at least partly listening to the user community when they drafted the final version of the vision paper.

Contrast that tag cloud with the one for Strategic Vision for the 21st Century:

Note that out of the 50 tags shown her, five of the largest are: Government Digital Documents GPO Business. Library is barely detectable, but at least it is larger than the tag for “public”, at least in my view.

The Strategic Plan is the document that GPO brought to Congress as the vision of the GPO Management. TagCrowd’s admitted simple visualization analysis appears to show that the Strategic Plan is very far away from the vision of the documents community. This should worry us. Or at least lead to a discussion of visualization tools!

Roll your own tag clouds

Building on Jim’s post on tag clouds, this certainly is a great way to analyze a document. And here’s a tool that could allow us to, as Daniel points out in his comment, analyze the zeitgeist of an entire administration. Check out TagCrowd. Paste in some text (or upload a text file of up to 100KB), press a button, and you can instantly visualize word frequency! I tried it with the transcript for President Bush’s remarks at the signing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (aka the US torture bill or the death of Habeas Corpus) and here’s the tag cloud I got. Interestingly, the most common tags wrote the following sentence:

“American attacks bill; CIA commissions intelligence military program questioning terrorists war.” (punctuation added!)

remix: US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud

US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud by Chirag Mehta, 2 Nov. 2006.

An interesting remix of public documents! Mehta got more than 360 speeches, official documents, declarations, and letters written by the Presidents of the US between 1776 – 2006 and created a “tag cloud” much like you see on del.icio.us (and like our own del.icio.us tag cloud in the left-hand side-bar of this page).

On Mehta’s site, larger font size indicates more use of the word and different colors indicate newer and older use. There is a slider-control at the top of the page that allows you to view the clouds for each document.

As we often mention, such re-use of public information should be an explicit goal of government information policy.

Interestingly, Mehta got the documents from Encyclopedia Britannica and ThisNation.com, not from government sources directly.