Quick Tip: Making sure we speak the same language

If you feel that you and your coalition or network members are talking past one another, you might try mediating the conversation through Wordle.net. (Another take on this concept with richer features can be found at http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/.)

Wordle describes itself as a tool “for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes” to emphasize differences in frequency of use.

Wordle’s real beauty is that it gives you an easily understood quantitative visual analysis of whether you and your audiences are using the same language to talk about common issues and concerns.

It’s not just text responses that you can run through Wordle.  Some use it to analyze how people are tagging content (see http://www.wordle.net/gallery/wrdl/505252/WRI_Delicious_Tags:_4_Feb_2009) to see if the language they use is the same as that of their audiences. (This visual example of a Wordle chart may take some time to load.)

All in all, it’s a good, fast way to mid-course reality check whether you and those you’re trying to motivate are talking about the same things in the same way.

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