Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Polar bears: work in progress

You can probably guess what research this wordle covers...


Anonymous said...

Awesome artwork! I was looking for interesting renderings of wordclouds and came across your blog - the polar bear is truly very cool - and the bees in the (poppy?) field authored by your colleague is brilliant as well. Would you mind sharing how these were made? Very well done again, and keep up the good work!

Best wishes,


Natasha Mhatre said...

Hi Vivek,

The write up is Dom's and the science as well. It is indeed absolutely fabulous. I'm very lucky to work with some awsesome people.

I did make both the image though. If you click on the word beasts tag, it'll bring up all the otghers and one of the early ones has a description of the process.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks Natasha! Truly impressive. The process does seem labor intensive, but as you so beautifully show, the results can be stunning. I wish there were easier authoring tools for those of us who are photoshop and or time challenged but have a general idea of what we want - tagxedo seems a bit more versatile than wordle, but it is nothing like what you do.

On a related note, I wonder what your thoughts are on bridging the tension between the ensuring high visual aesthete of these stunning images and communicating information in a manner that leads to real insight (the aha moment)? This is something I struggle mightily with - is it even possible to incorporate Tufte's dictum of restraint, simplicity, accuracy, and impartiality to convey quantitative information in these images, or should we simply marvel the virtue of the art for arts sake? I am of course hoping that this is a false choice, and am rooting for talented folks like you to figure out the answer and share it with the rest of us.

Thanks again, and best wishes,

-vivek kapur

PS. If you are still looking for interesting concepts to make "word beasts" from, you may find some of David Hughes work with "zombie ants" interesting (http://ento.psu.edu/directory/dhughes) - I must chat with David to see if we can arrange for you to present at one of our seminars in infectious disease dynamics / ecology at penn state.

Natasha Mhatre said...

Dear Vivek,

Thank you for your lovely and considered comment. Before responding, I should apologize for the slight delay in doing so. You caught me while I was making a move from Bristol to Berlin. So its been a bit busy.

At the moment, at least, the choice is still real in this project. The clouds are representative, and artistic. But I don't think there's truly an aha moment, where you grasp the entire story behind the image from just the text. Actually the best example maybe the language baby. I feel with that image you are led to the right question, perhaps, maybe.

That said I don't think its an insoluble problem. Time and effort and heaps of luck would get you there. I should perhaps begin finding curating and posting images that do that. (Heavens, yet another project! :))

And thank you for the tip on David Hughes work, I am always looking for new things to incorporate and it would be good to do maybe a large composite piece on ants. There's just so many fascinating aspects that it would be a shame to leave it at the one I have done.

It would be great to visit Penn state someday and I will be sure to get in touch if I am in that neck of the woods. Do do the same if you venture Berlinwards in the next few months.

My best,