Six latin american countries and their stories told by word clouds

The articles published in important newspapers such as The Economist, Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal  provide an outstanding view of current affairs due to the relevance of these media vehicles. What do they say about Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia and Chile? Instead of reading all articles, notes and references, a reader is able to grasp the main topics of large amounts of texts by the use of tools that utilize metadata, such as the frequency of words used in the articles. One of these tools is called Word Cloud (many times also known as Tag Clouds), which  provides a “helicopter view” of the main topics in any text. For example, the clouds based on the articles about six latin american countries published during the last week of July ´14 are presented  below:

 Cloud Argentina Cloud Brazil Cloud Chile Cloud Colombia Cloud Mexico Cloud Venezuela

Figure 1 – Word clouds for articles in The Economist, Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, first week of July, 2014


In order to evaluate the trustworthiness of the tool, Table 1 sumarizes the main words presented in the clouds and compares them to the current issues faced by each country.

Countries Main words shown in the clouds Current facts about the country Trustworthiness of the word cloud
Brazil Economy, Protest, Growth, Inflation, Rousseff. Brazilian economy faces low growth and increasing inflation; (Dilma) Rousseff´s approval rate decreased due to the protests in 2013. High
México Oil, Reform, Energy, Gas Congress approved changes in the constitution, which allowed FDI in the Mexican O&G and Energy sectors High
Argentina Default, Bond, Holdout, Negotiation Argentina´s new default which impacted holders of argetinean sovereign debt High
Venezuela Oil, Dollar, Maduro, Currency Venezuela, a strong oil exporter, faces a currency crisis: (Nicolás) Maduro is the current president High
Colombia Growth, Farc, Medellín Farc is a guerrilla sponsored by druglords, who used to control parts of Medellín. Average. Word cloud analysis make readers believe that FARC´s power is growing, while it seems not true due to Colombia´s efforts to curb violence.
Chile OECD, Copper Chile is an OECD member and an important exporter of copper Average. Although both facts are true, the interconnection between them is weak.
Table 1 – Trustworthiness of clouds for Brazil, México, Argentina, Colômbia, Venezuela and Chile

As the table shows, word clouds is an important tool that helps readers to comprehend the main issues of large quantities of texts. However, the tool shows some inaccuracies because may lead to false cause-consequences relation. In conclusion, word cloud is an important tool but is still not ready to fully substitute for expertise.

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