Tag Clouds: Reading the Poetic Interface

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

From the eventĀ“s website: In "Tag Clouds: Reading the Poetic Interface," Jeremy Douglass theorizes tag clouds: web reading interfaces formed from dense clusters 'clouds' of weighted keyword links, or 'tags'. The poetics of tag clouds are best understood when situated in a history of spatially distributed text art, from contemporary visualization and net.art (e.g. "TextArc," Legrady's "Making the Visible Invisible," Fischer's "Word News," Khan's "Net Worth," Jean V_(c)ronis' "-ogue") back through earlier typographic experiments (e.g. the concrete poetry of Augusto de Campos and the Vorticism of Wyndham Lewis). While interfaces have become emblamatic of the contemporary 'web 2.0' internet era, tag clouds have been fundamentally misunderstood in recent scholarship. Both the close association of tag clouds with 'folksonomy' website communities (e.g. del.icio.us, Flickr) and the popularity of the misleading term 'cloud' have created a stereotype of tag clouds as reflecting a kind of aesthetics of prolific chaos. Yet, as a special kind of list (the aggregately weighed dense list), tag cloud interfaces are both highly utilitarian (in the Tuftian sense of information richness) and deeply poetic (in their superimposition of constraining order over a set of evocative juxtapositions). In tag cloud poetry, the poetics of proliferation and the system of software meet at the reading interface.

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Patricia Tomaszek