Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TIMELINES: Tag clouds and the case for vernacular visualization

The paper talks about "Vernacular visualizations" which mainly talks about new visualization ideas to represent information intuitively emerging outside the area of research. The paper talks in detail about tag clouds and how they are used to present information.

It was fascinating to run through the history of tag cloud and how Fortune magazine used colors and font sizes to convey company statistics and Flickr used it to represent the tags used for photos. Also  interesting is the representation by Many Eyes that displays two-word clouds so that users can get a better idea of the information.

The paper also discusses the shortcomings of the tag cloud as there are some problems like longer words getting more importance and how it is more difficult to make overall sense by just looking at the tag cloud. Nevertheless, tag cloud still seems like a simple way to present the gist of what is going on and is an easy quick attractive way for the users. Thus, it clicks in practice although in theory it may be cumbersome and unclear.