Playful Visualizations at Work, Working Visualizations at Play

Visualizations, pt. 1


The images above are intentionally small, blurry, and unreadable (at least the far right image). The left and middle images are word clouds, the first from Voyant and the second from TaPoR. The third is a Word document that I created. As I explained in my introductory page, I am using a chapter (the fourteenth, to be exact) from David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King to create visualizations for the project. Liz, Claire and I decided to each try to create one visual that fulfills the criteria of being pretty, and one visual that is useful. None of the above three will be candidates for either of my final visualizations, but represents efforts made in the process of figuring out online tools and in what ways I can creatively manipulate the text. Word clouds are fun. I like word clouds. They look cool, they help me start thinking about which words are most significant (in a more visually exciting way than a word frequency analysis does), and they can be more or less pretty depending on which program is used. However, the worker bee in me (having done all of my work with the occasional help of an internet search, or a word processing program, but mostly my own brain) feels like the word cloud isn’t enough of an effort on my part. I did type the ten pages of the text and input the data, but it just appears too quickly. Speaking of word processing, the third image which is a Word document, was the first visual made with Microsoft Word and is a compilation image of an N+7 experiment I ran part of the text through. N+7, known as S+7 in France, is a well-known OuLiPo experiment in which every noun in a text is substituted for a noun seven places below in a dictionary. The process would be potentially very labor intensive, if not for which offers free use of its n+7 generator and other fun poem-making programs.The n+7 machine generates a text that compiles the n+0 (original), n+1, n+2…n+7 versions of your original data. From this 84 page result, I copied a small section of each, put them in numerical order, and then attempted to create a rainbow of text within word. The outcome was disappointing, as the Word program was not flexible to my (unrealistic) demands. I have since downloaded other programs with which I will be playing around this week. Up next: thoughts on useful visualizations, via excel.




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