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January 23, 2007

State of the Union visualizer

image from the State of the Union visualizer

With President Bush's State of the Union address(*) happening tonight, it's a good time to reming you all of Brad Borevitz's State of the Union visualizer, a cool online tool that lets you browse through every US presidential State of the Union address... from 1790 all the way up to the present. For each address common words are displayed with the size showing how many times they were used in the speech and the height on the graph showing the word's significance as compared to other speeches. The visualizer also tracks speech length (Jimmy Carter had a lot on his mind in 1981) and grade-level of each address.

You can also do A-B comparisons of different words ("freedom" vs. "terrorism" might be interesting). Shortly after tonight's speech is finished, the Visualizer will be updated with that text as well.

(*)Note to foreign readers: The U.S. Constitution requires the President to address the Congress at least once a year with a general report on how things are going in the country. This "State of the Union" address is often where Presidents announce major new policy initiatives.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at January 23, 2007 09:30 AM


The Constitution doesn't say "at least once a year". It specifies "from time to time" meaning at fixed regular intervals. Presidents have chosen to follow the tradition of once yearly. And apparently, it doesn't have to be a speech before Congress, but could be just a submitted report. But for quite awhile now, I think since Wilson(?) they've made the annual trip across town to give the big speech.

Posted by: G. L. Dryfoos at January 24, 2007 09:06 PM