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Ten cool State of the Union word clouds

When President Obama delivers his State of the Union address tomorrow, journalists and bloggers will try to find quick ways to evaluate it. One device they’ll use is a word cloud, a data visualization tool that shows words in different sizes based on how frequently they appear. This isn’t always illuminating; we don’t learn much by discovering that the president said “Congress” over and over. But when the president talks at length about one issue, word clouds shed light on interesting patterns. Check out these 10 word clouds from State of the Union addresses at important moments in history.

George Washington, 1791

James Madison, 1814

James K. Polk, 1845

Abraham Lincoln, 1862

Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

Woodrow Wilson, 1918

Herbert Hoover, 1931

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1942

Jimmy Carter, 1980

George W. Bush, 2002

One pattern I noticed was the change in how presidents refer to the country itself: The rise of the word “America” as a synonym for “United States.”

If you like these, it’s easy to make your own. These graphics were all created with Wordle. State of the Union addresses are helpfully catalogued by The American Presidency Project.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under News & Journalism, Politics

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