a picture is worth a thousand words

In Obama’s Words

This is not my first post about Barack Obama. One of my first words illustration was done in 2009 by using all the Obama speeches in the run for president. Nice words for people, I have to say. He became president in January 2009 and the thing got serious.

It has been nearly three years and now we can analyze the words he used in his speeches throughout this time. Nicely people at washingtonpost.com has around 800 Obama speeches ready to be read (also, I have taken the title!) . It was not an easy task because I had to isolate Obama words from all the recorded text, most of them contains words from other people and press questions, etc… I sorted all the speeches because I want to know the word’s evolution in time.

With all these ‘cleaned’ speeches, and using my own tools, I did three different kind of analysis. First I counted the most used words, and also the combo of two and three (significant) words. Also I looked at word’s evolution in time from January 2009 to October 2011.  And finally I looked at the words analyzing distance from others.

Most used single words: going (10817),make (8059),people (7843),can (6912),just (6511),work (6368),know (6165),now (6036),want (6013),get (5620),got (5290),right (5149),years (5148),american (5028),jobs (4789),think (4705),one (4615),time (4520),country (4457),america (4078),states (3879),like (3680),thank (3677),need (3536),help (3491),businesses (3305),things (3275),also (3265),take (3215),way (3199),well (3163),new (3159),sure (3094),say (3064),back (2980),economy (2957),health (2905),come (2898),care (2749),nation (2701),good (2624),united (2565),world (2565),every (2562),everybody (2521),look (2502),families (2469),see (2464),said (2460),tax (2414)…

Two words combo: make sure (2700),united states (2302),health care (1864),right now (1204),small businesses (1143),american people (1122),thank you very much (840),middle class (766),clean energy (739),tax cuts (693),across the country (680),health insurance (645),young people (629),states of america (621),long term (619),two years (516),$ billion (508),god bless (491),want to thank (484),want to make (481),white house (478),around the world (477),move forward (476),insurance companies (475),men and women (462),years ago (457),st century (452),create jobs (450),last year (435),going to make (401),just want (401),private sector (392),can make (367),wall street (366),work hard (366),every day (357),work together (356),one of the things (352),next year (344),recovery act (341),tax breaks (337)…

Three words combo: united states of america (618),want to make sure (302),middle class families (292),health care system (251),health care reform (231),small business owners (227),bless the united states (185),god bless the united (183),health care costs (182),since the great depression (169),got to make sure (166),big round of applause (164),people back to work (150),last two years (144),right here in the united states (138),private sector jobs (128),put people back (124),going to make sure (120),president of the united states (117),investment in clean energy (114),give them a big round (110),cost of health care (106),every single day (106),make sure that we’ve got (106),live within our means (103),can make sure (102),giving tax breaks (97),dependence on foreign oil (96)…

The leading illustration was done by spreading the most commonly used words over a portrait of Barack Obama.

In the next graph you can see the evolution of the first 100 words in time, and the combo of two and three words. Click to enlarge, but if you want to see a high resolution go to this Zoom.it link.

The next group of illustrations represents words close to the main word in all the speeches. So the bigger the word is the more times it appears close to the main word. The distance to the main word is the average distance of all the instances of that word. There is no relationship between each illustration, so you have to look at each one as independent single analysis. Main words sorted alphabetically.

And my word’s trees. The bigger are the most commonly used. You can find the single words tree and the two and three words combo trees. There is a high-res image of the single words tree uploaded at Zoom.it .



I personally have drawn interesting conclusions about the use of words. But I prefer that each draw their own conclusions. Here there is only data… in a visual way.

4 Responses to “In Obama’s Words”

  1. […] In Obama’s Words: http://www.juanosborne.com. Serie de visualizaciones en forma de nube de palabras, listas y diagramas […]

  2. […] In Obama’s Words: http://www.juanosborne.com. Serie de visualizaciones en forma de nube de palabras, listas y diagramas […]

  3. Greg Parish says:

    Some great work there Juan, It really makes you think differently about the significance of language to the political process when you see it represented in this way. It seems we are far more “image literate” than we realise, and although we hear these words repeated over and over it only when the words are presented in an image like mode of communication, that is words presented as pictures, that we can begin to understand their true pertinence.

  4. […] My little contribution is a tree representing Obama words in his speeches. […]

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