Thursday, November 1, 2012

Two World Clouds

The following word clouds were inspired by the conversation this week in Education's Digital Future, a class I'm currently taking. The question: what is a University? In particular, we talked some about Stanford. While these word clouds are far from a total picture of what Stanford is, they are two interesting perspectives.

The data for the first world cloud comes from Stanford's Wikipedia page

What Wikipedia thinks about Stanford.

The data for the second world cloud comes from the mission statements from Stanford's six schools:

What Stanford's six schools think about Stanford.

In my opinion, the most interesting word that is in the Wikipedia page, but not in the missions, is "campus." The most interesting word that is in the mission statements but not Wikipedia is, I think, "resources," though "interdisciplinary," "collaboration," and "ideas" are notable as well.

We discussed seven metaphors for the University in class: temple, sieve, hub, incubator, mangle, quasi-sovereign, and fluid. All are fitting in certain ways, but none is a perfect metaphor. I think the mission statement word cloud emphasizes the "incubator" aspects of Stanford, in that they reflect both the commitment to training students and to producing research (and ideas). Wikipedia, on the other hand, reflects Stanford's role as a "hub" (and possibly "temple"), emphasizing its physical location and its place in history.

(Both word clouds made at

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