Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reaction:Tag Clouds and the case of Vernacular Visualization

Tag cloud is a very old terminology, going as far back as the early 19 hundreds. Of course in those days it was used for a different purpose, but this paper shows how the technique has evolved over the years and now it is being used in the field of information visualization and graphics.

These days tag clouds have been used as aggregators specifically for social networking sites to display the text or messages involved in a network. In spite of all its drawbacks, tag clouds have a very special place in the field of information visualization as the paper suggests. Some of the drawbacks are that in tag clouds the longer words get an undue emphasis and the shorter ones appear as if they don’t exist! While if they are arranged in an alphabetical order then all the related words gets scattered which is not actually what we want! So for analytical purposes they are not very effective.

As we know that at present the tag clouds are used on a large scale. Although its main use in the field of visualization originated from Flickr, a lot of people have opted for this graphical technique.

A tag cloud is truly a “vernacular” technique which does not come from the visualization community and that violates some of the major rules of visualization design. But tag cloud’s widespread popularity and flexibility suggests that it passes the test of applicability.