I have been shuffling through data from the Exploratorium’s scientist-in-residence (SIR) project and I started thinking about what data (and the kinds of ways data) can or should be shared on a blog.  For now, I am going to share a few word clouds of raw data.  These do not illustrate full sentences nor can you tell which participant said what.

Each of these word clouds was based off of a survey question that I wrote and administered.

Visitors to the exhibition space were asked, upon leaving, “What would you tell a friend this space was about?”  The word cloud below contains data from the March residency, which focused on severe storm science (with scientists from NOAA’s National Severe Storm Lab).


The Exploratorium Explainers were an integral part of this project.  At the end of the second year I asked all of the Explainers, the Lead Explainers, and the Explainer managers to voluntarily complete the online survey.

Here is how Explainer managers responded to “Describe the impacts of this project on the scientists.”


While the Explainer survey was quite long and there is a lot of rich data there, I want to focus on their thoughts about the iPad.  The iPad was incorporated into the exhibition space as a mediating tool (as specified in the grant proposal).  I asked the Explainers “Where and how do you think the iPad was incorporated throughout the project?”  Their response…



So, what can we gain from word clouds?  It is certainly one way to look at raw data.  Thoughts?


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2 thoughts on “Wordle You Say? Or, how to use word clouds to look at your data

  1. It’s too bad you can’t separate by nouns and verbs because the use of iPads, especially, would be interesting to see how they used it and for what. I guess you can do that in another wordless, maybe not in questionpro?

  2. I agree, that would be interesting. Yes, you can do it if you actually use the Wordle application. There, you simply type in any words (i.e. only verbs) and it creates a word cloud.

    QuestionPro does the word cloud by question so I don’t even think you can take individual responses out unless you permanently deleted them.

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