[flickr-photo:id=15085782,size=m] Tag clouds bore me. They’re a relatively effective way of indicating quickly what topics are popular but that’s it. From del.icio.us’ cloud I can see that the site is for nerds – web nerds specifically. Flickr’s tag cloud tells me that people tag events and place names but that’s about it. My personal tag clouds on these sites tell me even less. My del.icio.us tag cloud tells me almost nothing – its a huge block of dark-blue and light-blue text. The Flickr one isn’t much better – it tells me mostly that I took a bunch of photos kayaking in the Queen Charlotte Islands, or perhaps more specifically, I got around to tagging my kayaking photos.
I’m more interested in seeing what’s going on right now and seeing how these topics are related. Since this is a graph visualization exercize I threw graphviz at the problem. After a bit of preliminary experimentation I ended up defining a graph based on recent tags pulled from an RSS feed. Each tag is represented as a node and any tags which appear together on the same post have arcs between them. Tag text gets scaled up a little with frequency. The effect isn’t perfect. Its pretty boring when there isn’t much data like on this site:
With a bit more data, like from my recent delicious feed things can get cluttered but we can see what I’m interested in right now:
Oh, and the final demonstration – my friend Dan is looking for and apartment and is a Ruby on Rails web application developer: