Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reaction:Tag Clouds and the Case for Vernacular Visualization

Tagclouds are commonly used to provide an overview of some textual information. The paper provides different scenarios where tag clouds where used and how they have evolved to their present state. Their usage is no longer limited to displaying popular words in a blog or sites like Flickr. The several possible variations in tagclouds such as timeline based, single word and two word clouds are shown in the paper. Another interesting variation is the word cloud where the frequency of words is also shown.The major disadvantage of single word clouds is that they are often not in the context. IBM has come up with a two-word tag cloud which shows frequently used phrases rather than just words. I find this to be more intuitive than the single word approach.

The layout of tag clouds, font sizes of words, ordering of words are important aspects in determining the usefulness of the visualization. Studies have shown that tag clouds can be used for browsing but not when looking for specific answers.In my opinion, having font sizes proportional to the frequency of word occurence is a good way of representing unstructured text and I find it more intuitive over alphabetical ordering. Also, depending on the context it makes sense to have two word clouds. Overall,the paper is a good read and gives us a general overview of tag clouds and their evolution.