Update: Talk in NYC
A smarter word cloud: likes and not likes

Quick fix for word clouds: area not length

Here is one of my several suggestions for word-cloud design: encode the data in the area enclosed by each word, not the length of each word.

Every word cloud out there contains a distortion because readers are sizing up the areas, not the lengths of words. The extent of the distortion is illustrated in this example:

Wordcloud_distortion

The word "promise" is about 3.5 times the size of "McCain" but the ratio of frequency of occurrence is only 1.6 times.

This is a quick fix that Wordle and other word cloud software can implement right away. There are other more advanced issues I bring up in my presentation (see here).

 

Comments

Martha Lee

I would like to know what you think of this word cloud, which paid attention to color codes and dimension of the words:
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/02/geography/usa-surnames-interactive

William Taylor

Interesting...love the idea of Word Clouds as art (not for content creation and/or web analysis)...nice to see that creativity is still alive and well and living in some harmony with the more typical left brain web. Thanks.

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