How many ways can you visually summarize text? I mean, stats are nice, but visuals soak into the brain so much faster. An ICWSM paper on visual analysis of weblog content reminded me of other examples of ways to depict text.
The ICWSM paper was presented by a team from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who used PNNL's IN-SPIRE software for their visualization. Jeff Clark shows a different text visualization tool on his blog with a visualization of the 2007 State of the Union address. The SOTU is a popular source among text visualizers, because of the interest in identifying themes in the address and the availability of years of data for comparison.
Jeff's visualization illustrates connections between selected terms in the 2007 address and where they appear within the text. An interactive version allows users to explore their own selected terms within the text.
Jason Griffey used TagCrowd to create a tag cloud (text cloud?) for the same SOTU address. This simple visualization illustrates the frequency of the most-used words in the text (with a filter to omit the uninteresing words, such as articles and conjunctions). The cloud doesn't offer as much insight as other visualizations, but it can offer themes at a glance when it works, and the cloud text lends itself to a drill-down application.
Brad Borevitz created an interactive site that compares every SOTU address since 1790. Click on a the timeline, and the cloud adjusts to that year's address. Full text of each address (with the selected term highlighted) and links to historical context are all part of the fun, but the easiest chuckles come from the relative length of the addresses. Can you identify the presidents with the longest addresses without looking?
Style.org has a SOTU parsing tool that highlights search terms in a greeked-text view of multiple addresses. Pick a keyword and see where it appeared in multiple years.
Text visualizations are more than just eye candy. Ed Schipul created keyword density charts to identify themes in recent addresses. He suggests a similar test for writers to see if they're staying on message. His keyword density analyzer creates the data from any web page.
Robert Kosara has links to more examples in visualization sets information free.