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June 25, 2008

A visual look at the issues of interest to our subscribers

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Last year Charlottesville Tomorrow began tracking information about the issues our subscribers would like to see us cover in our reporting.  You can edit or add your suggestion in your membership profile.

As the response postcards came in from residents who received our 2007 Voter Guide, I was impressed by the volume of interest in transportation matters, specifically public transportation, bikes, and rail.  I made a note to myself that I needed to find a way to mine this data and share the results.

Tag clouds” or “word clouds” are one interesting way to visually analyze text and I was alerted last week to a website called Wordle that is devoted to this task.  The basic concept is that words that appear more frequently in a document are given more prominence in a computer generated image of the words in that text.

So I took all the text that had been submitted by our subscribers and created the following word cloud. Given that the Virginia General Assembly is meeting this week in their special session on transportation, this cloud’s results seemed particularly timely.


[Note: You can click the cloud to visit its home on Wordle. Some of the text submitted by these 186 subscribers was standardized for clarity (eg. 'rt 29' became 'route29', 'bike' became 'bicycle')]

Providing in-depth coverage of transportation matters in our community has been a priority since Charlottesville Tomorrow launched in 2005.  This tag cloud, while not a scientific survey, certainly reinforces the importance of this issue in our work.  It was also a major topic that surfaced in last year's focus groups that supported our Survey 2007 research.

Here is a word cloud for Charlottesville Tomorrow’s mission statement:


Brian Wheeler


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