Friday, November 18, 2011

Reaction: Tag Clouds and the Case for Vernacular Visualization

This paper is very informative, in the sense that it first explains what vernacular visualization is – basically visualization that comes from non-academic sources - Tag Cloud being one such example. The paper then talks about various ways to represent tag cloud are mentioned in this paper, advantages and limitation of this kind of visualizaiton among other useful points. After a brief introduction to Tag Cloud which are described as visualization that came into light after the advent of Web 2.0 where there was tremendous activity on website and coping with such tedious thing was left to tag clouds their history is pointed out in this paper which is pretty much factual and irrelevant to main theme of the paper.

The paper then jumps to various ways of representing tag clouds like based on examination of textual documentation different tag clouds  can be plotted viz. –
  • Timeline based tag cloud where a timeline is associated with tag cloud
  • Color varied or Size varied tag cloud where words are varied in color and size based on their usage/frequency
  • Two-word view of IBM’s allowing grouping of two words and depicting a two-word view among others.

Finally the paper describes theoretical problems faced by tag clouds mainly –
  • Long words getting undue importance
  • Closely related words like east and west separated out due to alphabetical ordering

And there are research studies that support this view.

Marti Hearst whose paper on Information Visualization for text mining, I read prior to this, suggested that, even if tag cloud have limitations of their own, they serve as social signifiers that prove to have friendly atmosphere and provide a point of entry into complex site thus proving a valuable asset when summarizing activities of people on such sites.
Overall a very good and I learnt that indeed there are classification or I should say types when it comes to visualizing unstructured text in so called tag cloud.

I found that this paper was to be followed up by reading this article I had read some time back which completely depicts picture of tag clouds -