Week 6

Tag Cloud

The problem with tag clouds

Tag clouds are not suited for long tail navigation:

By simply adding up over time, a certain pattern consistently emerges: there will be a some dominating tags (the “big head”) and a vast number of rarely used tags (the “long tail”). Whilst the “big head” tags remain pretty constant over time and broadly characterize your interests, the “long tail” contains all the variety of things you encounter. Tag clouds visually prioritize the “big head”. However, both for browsing and for searching, access to the long tail is vital, since this is where the real information is contained.

Summing up over time does not represent the dynamics of interests:

Additionally, it can be questioned if merely summing up tags is the right approach in general. How about topics you were interested in, but now you aren’t anymore? Or conversely, very recent interests, which are pretty important to you but haven’t been tagged often enough to show up in the cloud? To solve this problem, Chirag Mehta had the nice idea of implementing tag clouds with a time slider. However, if you look at these, another problem becomes evident:

Tag clouds are not suitable for animation:

This is due to their alphabetical list order and visual messiness. Since every tag’s position in a tag cloud is defined by its predecessor’s size and position, things start jumping around once you start scaling tags. So tag clouds are not really suited to display the dynamical nature of tagging structures - how tags appear and disappear.

Classes for text animations

I finished up some classes to use the animations. I am learning from the Processing site on how to make it a library.

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