Monday, December 20, 2010

Wordle: Afro-Photo Style

Having come across a few word visualizations in the past few months that were pleasing to the eye, I enjoyed their aesthetics without knowing where they came from. Well this morning I finally found the coded source of their beauty. The website is called Wordle and it takes blocks of text and transforms them into statistics-driven artwork. Users of the site input the text and Wordle generates a image made of colored words in which words that appear more often in the user's inputted text are displayed as larger in the visualization.

Wordle looked simple and fun so I decided to give it a try. The three images below were randomly generated by Wordle's software based on the text from my previous 20 posts on Afro-Photo There are even ways to customize the shape and color of the visualizations. Go play around with it, it's quite fun. And click on any of the images below to see them enlarged.

Wordle: Afro-Photo
Wordle: afro-photo2
Wordle: afro-photp3

Wordle is a fun and statistically sound way of gauging the content of this website. According to the visualizations the most common words are:

-South (Africa)

Of course it's not a perfect tool to discover the main themes of a given source, but because more common words will dominate the images and reoccurring themes do produce words that are employed more often, Wordle doesn't deviate much from the truth. Examining the words listed above, all of them have, in some capacity, been representative of my writing over the last couple of months.

Wordle is part of a growing trend in which statistics and data are presented in more appealing and creative ways. Whether to allow obscure data to appeal to wider audiences or to push the boundaries of information expression, this is a trend that is really picking up momentum. There is actually a TED talk on the same subject. Truly data can be beautiful.

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