The article discusses how information can often be shown more easily by pictures than by text, and includes a number of different types of graphic to demonstrate the point.
One of the illustrations is a small word cloud of the most common words from Richard Littlejohn’s column in the Daily Mail. Word clouds are like the “read about” list over in the right hand column of this page, which shows the most frequently used categories for the posts, using bigger text for the more frequently occurring words. This post starts with a wordle word cloud for the texts of the last five posts on this blog.
Ignoring size and colour weightings, and reading more or less from left to right, top to bottom, the words in Davd McCandless’s word cloud for Littlejohn’s column are:
new police government Gordon got people now years time last like Britain Labour way know get even just go back home
It seems fortuitous that the cloud puts “get” alongside “even”, appearing to show the phrase “get even ” and also produces the phrase “just go back home”. The same list of words could produce far less beligerent expressions such as, “people just like Gordon”.
Pictures and graphics can indeed be an efficient way of communicating information. But, like statistics, they are liable to manipulation. Choice of colour and font, and of zero points for graphs etc. can all help put across a hidden agenda.
The following wordle was produced using the exact same word set as the one at the start of the post. The data is the same, but I don’t think it gives quite the same impression:
(Note that over on the wordle site you can create your own wordles. It’s a great way to waste time!)