I mentioned my frustration with Wordle recently, among other tools. The primary complaints I had was not with the tool itself, but the tendency to invest too much time and instruction into the tool when it is better to use as a resource.
Case in point, the political blog 538.com had a post this morning analyzing the current health care debate. They took survey results from citizens and fed those results through Wordle to generate the following word clouds:
Those in favor of the current health care bill-
Those against the current health care bill-
Used in this context, Wordle provides a quick graphical representation which can lead to an analytical discussion of both current events and politics. The key words here... 1) "quick", and 2) "lead to". A teacher here wouldn't spend any time teaching students how to use Wordle (and heck, they wouldn't even make the Wordle themselves). This is a good example of how tools can be used effectively given the scope and purpose of what they are trying to accomplish.