Here at the Document Capture Co, we love good data visualisation. Data visualisations can be used to shed light on otherwise impenetrable data sets, allowing researchers to better interpret results in an immediate, approachable and, let’s face it, aesthetically pleasing way. One of the most useful forms of data visualisation is the ‘word cloud’ – a collection of coloured words and phrases designed to give researchers an insight into the usually ephemeral world of qualitative, sentiment data. Word clouds can tell us information that other data visualisations cannot, and are important tools for those looking to branch out into sentiment analytics.


Armstrong’ doping allegations

In 2012, it emerged that the decorated cyclist Lance Armstrong was guilty of a series of doping offences. The seven-time Tour De France winner was one of the sport’s most decorated individuals and a role model to many – it’s safe to say that the doping allegations rocked the world of professional cycling to its foundations. You might remember that in January 2013, Armstrong conducted an interview on American television with chat show host Oprah Winfrey, during which time the cyclist admitted to the doping charges. Armstrong’s interview and subsequent admission of guilt was widely criticised by the cycling fraternity, and this word cloud generated from Armstrong’s responses during the interview can shed some light as to why…


The word cloud

This word cloud is a collection of the most oft-used words and phrases uttered by Lance Armstrong during his interview with Oprah Winfrey. The size of the words indicates their frequency, with the larger images representing the most common phrases employed by the cyclist. One can immediately discount words like ‘know’, ‘yes’ and ‘one’, as they can tell us very little in isolation. It doesn’t take much examination of the word cloud, however, to notice a pattern emerging. ‘Leader’, ‘story’, ‘win’, ‘winning’ and ‘perfect’ all appear as some of the most frequently uttered words in Armstrong’s lexicon – fairly self-aggrandising vocabulary for someone admitting their own guilt, you would have to say. Other common utterances include ‘culture’, ‘team’, ‘generation’, ‘people’ and ‘everybody’, suggesting that the cyclist was trying to deflect the blame away from himself, pointing to a collective guilt throughout the sport. As you would expect for such an interview, the words ‘apologise’, ‘sorry’, ‘cheat’ and ‘fault’ also feature, but their size suggests they were rarely spoken in comparison to some of Armstrong’s preferred terms. The word ‘drug’ appears tiny on the word cloud, hinting at the reason why so many professional cyclists were dissatisfied with Armstrong’s apology.


As you can see, word clouds like the one generated in the wake of Armstrong’s Oprah interview can provide extremely detailed insights into the thought processes of groups and individuals. Word clouds can even be used by businesses looking to examine the sentiments of customers and potential clients, allowing them to get a leg-up on their competitors. If you want to harness the unarguable power of word clouds and other data visualisations, take a look at the range of data capture solutions on our website, or contact us to arrange a free, no-obligation workshop where we’ll explain how we can help your business in more detail.