Making a World Leader “Word Cloud”

A key focus of GDELT in 2014 is on how to make its incredibly vast and rich datasets easier to work with and, in particular, more accessible to the non-technical community. To help unlock these incredibly unique insights into global society, we’re experimenting with a range of new visualizations and other ways of interacting with GDELT’s archives.

The popularity of “word clouds” on the web as a way of visualizing patterns in large amounts of data got us thinking about what a “word cloud” of a world leader might look like. Towards this end, the image below is a first glimpse of a new tool coming shortly that will let you create a word cloud around a leader, location, organization, or theme. In this word cloud, the GDELT Global Knowledge Graph was scanned for all coverage of Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves April 2013 to present. A list was compiled of every person that had appeared in a news article alongside President Ilves and how often the two names appeared together.


The word cloud above captures the world’s newsmakers that have been contextualized by the news media with President Ilves during the past year. Such an image is far easier to understand than a vast spreadsheet of numbers and percentages, and paints a clear picture of the people that form President Ilves’ “media neighbors.”

We hope that new visualizations such as this “world leader word cloud” will get people thinking about innovative new ways to understand and visualize the vast image of global society that GDELT offers and transform how we think about the ability of big data to show us the world in a whole new visual light.

To offer one more brief glimpse of the fascinating potential of this approach to communicate what the media tells us of the influencers and newsmakers of a country, here is a word cloud created for Ukraine of the top 100 people that have appeared in global news coverage of Ukraine April 1, 2013 through March 17, 2014:



Check out the Washington Post piece on GDELT's World Leader World Clouds or create a few yourself using the new GDELT Analysis Service!