Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

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Tag clouds or treemaps?

I find tag clouds a bit irritating because I want to use tags to navigate and while the size tells me what's interesting, most common isn't often my measure of interestingness (side question: what's the real abstract noun for that?); I especially dislike dynamic ones that wiggle the tags to size when I hover over them because I like predictable interface behaviour; I build muscle memories for how to run common commands and non-deterministic interface behaviour messes with that. Metadata about metadata? Useful but you can present it better.

I love treemaps; they're such an elegant representation of both the information itself and the value of the information. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Netscan - the Microsoft Research tool that creates treemaps of Usenet groups. Looking for a nice graphical display of disk space information I found the free WinStatDir which linked to a history of treemaps that revealed they were developed to show disk usage patterns! And that linked to the rather lovely newsmap which could easily be the only way I'll ever want to read news again: the output of Google News as a treemap. Now if only I could pipe the feed of my choice into it: I'd like to use this as an interface for BBC News or CNet or The Onion...
Tags: design, download, geek, links, maps, numbers, search, technology

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