Data visualisations are a type of storytelling leading to insight and for the best of them to enlightenment that can drive decision making. Wordclouds are not one of them. They are actually quite the opposite as they are graphically tied to a font and font size cannot be accurately translated to a value. Also, longer words with a smaller size take more space than a slightly bigger but shorter word, leading our human eye to misinterpret what it sees.
However, even if I find them useless for actual data visualisation that should drive decision-making, I find them quite interesting when it comes to graphical art and design. I had the idea of creating portraits of well-known characters or people and using their own words to draw their portraits. To do so, I used python and the wordcloud library. I used a photographic portrait of Virginia Woolf to shape and colour the cloud and her textA Room of One’s Ownas the text input. The font was also handpicked – I opted for a serif font given the ‘classical’ literary nature of the chosen text.
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