I’m a confirmed text-crawler — but I can see the writing on the wall. Rather, I can see the large pie chart representing the contents of the writing on the wall. It started in 2006 with the big emphasis on mapping but I believe 2007 will be the year of visual representation — using graphs, maps, and animation (and tag clouds) to show popularity, activity, or focus. For better or for worse.
To look at a better example, check out Stack, from Digg Labs, at http://labs.digg.com/stack/. Stack is an evolving graph of what’s popular at digg. In the default configuration 100 stories at a time march across the screen as small vertical lines. Small white squares representing diggs from users fall on the stories. The yellower the line, the more dug the story is. (You also have the option to show only popular stories, or only newly-submitted stories.)
Hold your mouse over a line and you’ll get a bubble with the story title. Click on a line and you’ll get a popup window with the story title and description, number of digs, and number of comments. You’ll also get a static graph of the number of times the story has been dugg over the last 48 hours. Click on the story title and a popup window will take you to the Digg page for that story.
It’s sometimes a little tough to click on the exact story you want as 100 lines go marching across the screen. That’s what the pause button is for. You’ll need to use it — even when I checked out this site at 2:30 in the morning the lines were flying across the screen (That’s even more true when you look at the most popular stories.) You can also zoom in so as few as ten stories at a time are showing on the screen.
Two thoughts arose as I played with this site. Thought 1) Wouldn’t it be nice to have a constantly-changing tag cloud at the same time? Thought 2) This would make an excellent screen saver (though it’d probably keep me from getting any work done!)