Previous entry: Vannevar Bush, Kottke, and Professional Trail Blazing

Folksonomy Visualization

by David Sturtz

MIT Media Lab’s John Maeda calls Flickr’s visualization of popular tagsthe greatest diagram of 2004.”

There are many things to admire about this format. Since it is about words, it uses some dimensions implicitly. For instance, it is alphabetized. The order makes complete sense. It is size-based and thus the dominant tags stand out clearly. It is read like a paragraph with its ragged-right margin. The data core is dynamic and thus we can predict different patterns, such as ‘2005’ eventually becoming larger than ‘2004.’ The diagram exudes warmth because it is about images of usually happy events. Some of the biggest tags are ‘family,’ ‘vacation,’ ‘family,’ and ‘party.’

All true. These weighted tag lists have become the banner child of the folksonomy with similar visual treatments at del.icio.us, MetaFilter, Technorati, and 43 Things to mention a few. Flickr’s is visually one of the best (except for this one, of course). Also found a good article on making these displays accessible.

Getting more advanced, check out this visualization of related tags on del.icio.us using TouchGraph. Time to learn Java.

Next entry: Pumpkins on iTunes