Monday, November 21, 2011

Reaction: Tag Clouds and the Case for Vernacular visualization

This article looks at tag clouds in the sense that they were visualizations that developed outside of the academic world, but more in response to the large amount of collective information that people were dealing with on the web. The article went through the history of tag clouds and it was interesting to me that at one point tag clouds were declared "The Greatest Diagram" of any year because my impression from other sources is that tag clouds are mostly viewed as poor visualizations. The end of the article pointed that out when it talked about the theoretical problems with word clouds. I thought it was interested that they said word clouds might work in practice, but not in theory.

One point that I think the article suggested, but didn't explore enough was when they mentioned that there's a difference between a tag cloud and a word cloud. I think they are definitely different things and I think it would be useful to look at them in different contexts because they serve different purposes. Tag clouds seem, to me, to be useful for indexing and serve as an entry point to a website, whereas word clouds would be more useful for analysis of the given text.