Tagxedo – silent but thought-provoking editor



The words in the apple above are the most commonly occurring words in my blog posts this year according to Tagxedo, an intriguing site that identifies these words and allows the user to create pictures with them. Except for articles, prepositions and similarly common words, Tagxedo reproduces the chosen words in sizes corresponding to the number of occurrences each has. In my Tagzedo, “tablet” appears bigger than “curriculum”, showing me that the word tablet has cropped up in my writing so far this year more often than the word curriculum.

There have been a number of similar concordance instruments over the years, but they have mostly been used for gimmicky purposes. Teachers, however, are beginning to realise that there are serious pedagogical purposes to getting students to use Tagxedo to identify lexical trends in their writing and prompt them to expand their vocabulary and word choice.



What do the Lists of the Most Popular Apps Tell Us?

I’m grateful to Scholastic Top Teacher and Ed Tech blogger Erin Klein (@KleinErin; kleinspiration.com) for the statistics that prompt the first part of this post.  Erin took the trouble to tweet this year’s second quarter’s global top ten Smartphone apps, and there were one or two surprises in the list.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 16.41.53

In my own opinion there are several things to note in this list.  First of all we can see the dominance of social here. Gartner identified social as one of the four forces in what they termed the “nexus of forces” best set to influence tech trends in the coming five years and, with the arguable exception of Google Maps, every one of these apps in the global top ten is a social app.

The other big winner here is Google. Eric Schmidt said last year that four tech companies were going to dominate the future. Two of them – Google and Facebook, are represented here, and Apple (one of the others) is present in ghost form since it reinvented the whole Smartphone/app scene with the iPhone. The fourth company in Schmidt’s list was Amazon – and as its Amazon’s servers storing much of the content we upload via social apps (including Dropbox), we need to recognise their implied present here in the list too. Microsoft, who own Skype, are proving hard to ignore too as they gradually make up the huge amount of ground they lost when they were too busy laughing at the iPhone to notice how successful it was proving.

Schmidt appears to have forgotten China in his prediction. But as a Sinophile – and also as a realist, I feel it is going to be a few years before the likes of Baidu and Sina Weibo realise their potential and start to challenge the West’s giants.  Sina Weibo’s subscription figures are hugely overinflated with ghost accounts, and the list above already shows the comparative success of WeChat over Weibo anyway. But as long as Facebook and Twitter remained (officially) banned in the Middle Kingdom, sites (and therefore apps) like Kaixinwang will begin to gain ground. Who would bet against even YouTube one day being overtaken by its Chinese copycat rival, Youku Tudou?

This top ten list will evolve and change over time, but it is a fascinating record of what we’re all doing with our mobile devices at this relatively early stage of their history – and it will be interesting to look back in ten, twenty or fifty years time and compare the present day with whatever it is we’ll be using mobile technology for then.

On that note, the recent demise of the UK’s Tap magazine, which definitively reviewed and rated apps for iOS devices from its first issue in December 2010 to this summer, prompted me to compare the top ten apps lists from issue one and issue thirty.  Here they are.

Tap Top 10 Apps

I think it’s clear that we’re still doing more or less the same sort of thing with our devices. Social apps were popular in 2010 and they remain the leaders today – alongside media consumption apps, photos, and the sat nav app TomTom.  But we’re getting fussier and less tolerant of glitches or shortcomings (which is why Tweetbot trumps Twitter’s own app, for example).  It will be interesting to review the list in 2016 and see how it has evolved.  In fact, I’ll just use my Reminders app to leave myself a memo to do just that!