One of my favourite songs from one of my favourite musicians. I could listen to Joni reading a telephone directory. I would probably pay for it. In fact, if hers was the voice I heard when waiting in one of those interminable call queues, I’d probably be less stressed. I wonder…..
But enough of that. Talk like that will bring on clouds of frustration.
Let me talk about clouds of a different sort: the ones we use to visualise collections and populations and frequency and popularity. You’re bound to have seen them, they’ve been used for a variety of things ranging from tags to search terms to authors.
So far, I’ve seen clouds used for relatively discrete lists, both manual as well as automatic. Where they’ve been automatic, they’ve tended to scrape the contents of a particular data item within a database, such as “author’s name” in a book collection.
Sam Lawrence of Jive Software originally alerted me to IBM’s excellent manyeyes a little while ago, following on from something I’d tweeted re visualisation tools. And so I went there and took a look, and liked what I saw. More recently, as I was following up on something at that site, I was a little taken aback to find myself looking at this:
Whoops. Not what I was expecting, but interesting. And then today I was alerted to the fact that he’d just written this story; all I can say is that Sam’s a brave man. He’s not the first to call me names, and “thought leader” is pretty good as names go….but…. to boil me down to 10 words? In two words, im-possible, to quote a different Sam :-). Take a look at the results, they’re interesting. Chris Brogan also comments on Sam’s post.
And it got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be useful to display the stocks being traded as a cloud rather than just as a ticker feed? Volume would be depicted by the size of the “word”, in this case the name or symbol of the stock. You could use colour and font and style to add further meaning, while still retaining the cloud concept.
What intrigues me further is the more general application of what Sam (thanks, Sam! And say hi to Dawn.) showed us using manyeyes. Applications that get us involved in serious knowledge management; applications like showing the frequency of words in corporate e-mail on a given day, compared against similar word clouds for IM and blog and wiki in the same enterprise. All for the same day. Applications like showing how the frequency of words used in Powerpoint changed over time, to see if the “message” of change was being embedded in corporate-speak. [I shall resist the temptation to say that fourteen times, or however many times it takes….]
When things become digital, many things become possible. When markets become digital, many more things become possible, as my erstwhile colleague Sean keeps reminding me. Sean, who was probably born not that far from where Roberta Joan Anderson was born, albeit a few years later.
Talking about Joni Mitchell, I just love this project of hers: “The Annotated Joni Mitchell” Glossary Project
Just look at what she has to say: “Who cares what I mean? What does it mean to you?” It means a lot to me, especially when she comes up with words like…..
Moons and Junes and Ferris Wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes true
I’ve looked at love that way…..