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Building Tag Clouds in Perl and PHP by Jim Bumgardner

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Tag Cloud Properties

Tag clouds generally have the following additional properties:

  • The words are arranged in a continuous list, rather than a table. The order of the words is uncorrelated to tag frequency; for example, they might be listed alphabetically or randomly.

  • The words represent tags, or community-created metadata. This metadata often follows power laws—there are few popular items, and many more unpopular items.

  • The tags are links navigable to the tagged content.

The first property gives tag clouds their cloudy or amorphous appearance. They have a simple beauty that is more attractive than a grid.

The second two properties give tag clouds a dual function. They function not only as a graph of interesting data, but are a navigation interface to user-generated content (or what Derek Powazek calls "authentic media"). In other words, tag clouds are both something to look at and something to click on.

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