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Graph the State of the Union

The New York Times recently published a web tool that interactively displays the usage of specific words in President Bush's State of the Union addresses from 2000–2007. I'm not sure it's useful, but it's certainly impressive:

The 2007 State of the Union Address




The New York Times always provides great infographics. Of course it's useful to know how Mr. Bush's discourse/priorties have developed of the years. All information is good, and even more one concerning the State of the Union.

I find the representation of the distribution of the words through the speaches fascinating. At first, I didn't realize that the grey lines represented other words in the text, but once I got it, I was impressed.

I'd like to see other texts given this treatment. I'm really curious about what the programming looks like, and how they work with the data.

You can also click on each occurrence of a word to see the surrounding text (it appears at the bottom—"The word in context").

Yes, the user interface is fantastic--giving multiple access points to the data.

I don't think this graphic really shows anything. For example, exactly what can you conclude by knowning the frequency and distribution of a single word? I think the layout and functionality (except for hanging the Flash during a long search) is fine. I just don't "see" a message here.

I guess I just think graphics should let people make conclusions or observations that have some meaning. Perhaps I'm just missing it here.