Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reactions: TIMELINES: Tag clouds and the case for vernacular visualization

This paper starts from history of tag clouds and states first use in 1976 by psychologist for capturing mental map of Paris using landmark name. Paper talks about it first time use in computer field in 1995 by Douglas Coupland. First major use of Tag cloud was to show Fortune Magazine for displaying 500 corporations. Then it interest kept on growing with time and later on with its usage on websites. Paper discusses about two type of tag cloud one being traditional one word tag cloud and other being two word tag cloud. In two word tag cloud emphasis is given through visual technique to most used two word phrase.

Most interesting fact that paper states is tag cloud don’t follow lots of theoretical rule of visualization still it is adopted by so many websites. Few problems that paper states about tag cloud are: Long words get undue advantages of more visual attention than shorter words, alphabetical ordering of words can show unrelated word closer and also they are not so good in overall sense making in comparison to few other techniques. However that’s in theory but in practical it is still getting interest even after breaking some golden rules of visualization. This is because tag cloud provides friendly atmosphere and easy entry into complex site like social websites and blog sites. I like the content about paper overall as it contains many interesting fact which subtle advantages and theoretical disadvantages defined very clearly. Also I liked the point of author, that we may need to relook for new possibilities and at old knowledge as tag cloud succeeds even after not complying to best practices. This could be very beneficial for finding new techniques because tag cloud being one of the most curious and used visualization was not found through research and unconventional ways.