Mountain Sun

Mountain Sun

Friday, November 11, 2011

Listening to the Occupy Movement

Tag-clouds and word-clouds are probably used too much these days, but I think the format may be useful in presenting the "Occupy Movement" to the public. Word-clouds represent spoken or written speech by graphically weighting words based on their frequency of appearance.  This graphical approach may be a useful communication tool, I think, because the public appears to maintain a poor grasp of what "Occupy" is about.

As an example, below is a word-cloud representation of an early and important declaration from Occupy Wall Street which was accepted by the OWS general assembly on September 29th, 2011.

Occupy Wall Street declaration of September 2011 as word-cloud image.

The resulting image helps to very quickly convey what this OWS statement was about.  In creating the image above, I changed one word in the original document. In the original declaration, OWS put the following statement in its opening paragraph (emphasis added):

We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice and oppression over equality, run our governments.

The declaration then goes on to list (in bullet format) a number of specific complaints against corporations, in which corporations are referred to as "they".  In producing the word-cloud, I have changed the pronoun "they" back to the entity being referred to--"corporations".   Aside from that technical change, the text being fed into the word-cloud generator (in this case, wordle, but others are available) is directly from the OWS declaration document.

Given the public's continuing lack of clarity regarding what "Occupy" is about, and given the diverse concerns present among Occupiers themselves, the word-cloud may be a useful communication tool both inside and outside the movement.


Another example, which combines Declaration texts from multiple cities in three countries (US, Canada and UK).  Included in the word-cloud below are Declarations from the following locations:  Occupy Alaska, Occupy Astoria (OR), Occupy Berkeley, Occupy Bloomington-Normal, Occupy Erie, Occupy London UK, Occupy Memphis, Occupy Louisville, Occupy Wall Street, and Occupy Tri-Cities (WA).  The geographic locations are diverse, but the consensus is devastatingly clear.

Update 11/22/11

Here is a word cloud (click on image to enlarge) done by Occupy Boston, representing survey results from a poll of Occupiers, as printed in the first issue of The Boston Occupier.   Brilliant!

Update 12/1/11

Occupy D.C. has just published its declaration.  Here it is in word cloud format:

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