I just read a nice article in Fast Company that reinforced what information designers and architects have always known and championed… that visualizing data is increasingly necessary to generate meaning in a complex world.
What I did not know, was that I would be confronted with visualizing my own world! A company called Wordle scanned Erdworks and generated a tag cloud ranking the most commonly used words on the site.
As I uploaded my URL and waited for the applet to scan the site content, I began to ponder what words would be most visible. I made a split second assumption and, when the scan was completed, was proven completely wrong. I had not anticipated that there was a concentration of words surrounding the green movement. I had assumed there would be more language around user experience design.
What this reinforced was how basic assumptions can be evolved or challenged through the use of smart information graphics. This quick experiment quickly made a relatively large amount of complex data understandable.
I have a new found respect for the ubiquitous tag cloud navigation element as an effective communication tool. Thanks Wordle!