At first glance, word clouds seem like a quick and easy way to accurately display information pulled from the verbiage of the novel. Simply put, the word cloud pulls out the most often used words from the text, and voila! You now have an idea of what a certain section of the book is all about. 

Yet as we began our work as a class of putting together appropriate word clouds for chapters of  I Promessi Sposi, we began to realize how much more complicated it was to accurately express those ideas. It turns out it wasn't as easy as copy-and-pasting information into a box and then using the aesthetically pleasing result. Jacob Harris' article "Word Clouds Considered Harmful" (see below for source) and Julie Meloni's "Wordles, or the Gateway Drug to Textual Analysis" (see below for source) demonstrated the pros and cons of word clouds, and instigated a class discussion as to how we could properly use a word cloud to convey information and not detract from said information. In other words, how do we make a word cloud useful and keep it from just "looking pretty"? 

What we came up with is this: A word cloud can only adequately express information as long as its paired with other methods of expressing background or complementary information. It is up to us, as the readers and analyzers of the novel, to use our available sources (such as word clouds) to assist us in expressing what we have learned, not up to those sources to do the work for us. Now comes the time for us to figure out how exactly we are going to pair assisting information with our word clouds, and in what ways the word clouds are suited (or not suited) to visually represent I Promessi Sposi. 
Harris, Jacob. "Word Clouds Considered Harmful." Nieman Journalism Lab. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2013. <>.

Meloni, Julie. "Wordles, or the Gateway Drug to Textual Analysis." ProfHacker. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2013. <>.

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