[ILUG-BOM] REVIEW: Building clouds... in cyberspace

Frederick Noronha (FN) fred@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
Tue Aug 8 01:54:31 IST 2006

Building clouds... in cyberspace

Building Tag Clouds in Perl and PHP
Jim Bumgardner
Ebook in PDF format
ISBN: 0596527942
Pp 48
$9.99 US, $12.99 CAN

Review by Frederick Noronha

Tag clouds? What are those?

O'Reilly's new e-book 'Building Tag Clouds in Perl and PHP'
by Jim Bumgardner explains a concept every serious user of
cyberspace would have at least heard of.

Says Bumbardner: "Tag clouds are everywhere on the Web these
days. First popularized by the web sites Flickr, Technorati,
and del.icio.us, these amorphous clumps of words now appear
on a slwe of web sites as visual evidence of their membership
in the elite corps of 'Web 2.0'."

     Wikipedia says: "A tag cloud (more traditionally known
     as a weighted list in the field of visual design) is a
     visual depiction of content tags used on a website. 
     Often, more frequently used tags are depicted in a
     larger font or otherwise emphasized, while the displayed
     order is generally alphabetical. Thus both finding a tag
     by alphabet and by popularity is possible. Selecting a
     single tag within a tag cloud will generally lead to a
     collection of items that are associated with that tag."

If you're a content person like this reviewer, why bother at
all about all this stuff? As long as I get my neatly-laid out
keywords that give me a clue of what's where, why worry?

But then, someone has to do the job of getting the tag clouds
to work. And that's where this book is born out of a need.

It may be a fad. But one which has "real merits" when used
popularly, as Bumgardner explains. This e-book analyses what
is and isn't a tag cloud. It offers design tips for using
them effectively, and also shows how to collect tags and
display them in the tag cloud format.

Interesting background on issues like craiglist's weighted
cities list, and statistically improbable phrases (SIPs) or
capitalized phrases (CAPs) lists provided by Amazon.com. SIP
has word order corelating to the improbability of the phrase.
In the CAP list, the word order relates to the frequency with
which the phrase appears in the book.

After some interesting history about tag clouds -- which
takes us to Flickr (who doesn't know this photography-sharing
web site?), tag roots in the blogging community, and Jim
Flanagan's Zeitgeist idea -- things start to get technical.

There's code, graphs and how-tos.Time for me to leave it to
techies, who prefer raw coding to merely writing book reviews!

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