TextCompass

Frontside of the TextCompass in its folded state.
Backside of the TextCompass in its folded state.
On the front a quote taken from an interview with Wim Crouwel that was published in the Dutch newspaper “de Volkskrant” is shown.
A focus on the word “mens” [English: human or person] Wim Crouwel reminds designers what most of them tend to forget: that we are ultimately designing objects for people.
While unfolding the TextCompass, more and more of the visualization becomes visible.
Within the visualization the relevance of a word is determined by the number of references in the source text. The more context two words have in common the stronger their connection is.
A graphical visualization shows the quantities of how many occurences each word has in the source text, therewith illustrating the strength of each connection.
In the centre of the visualization the top 50 keywords are listed in alphabetical order and connected through lines representing the strength of the connection.
Because of the thinness of the paper on which the TextCompass was printed the front and back visually become one and the same three-dimensional visualization.
It is the context of a word that facilitates its understanding, as a word can often not be defined or understood correctly without taking into account words around them.
The transparancy of the paper this two-sided information visualization possible.
A connection in the centre of the visualization is established based on how many words it has in common with each of the contexts of both words that are connected to each other.
Numbers in front of the contextual keywords show the quantity of that word in its context, and is visualised on the other side of the paper with bars showing that quantity visually.
With a focus on the word “mens” [English: man or person] Wim Crouwel emphasises that we are ultimately designing for people.
Below the visualization a description in both Dutch and English is provided to explain the TextCompass and the context of its creation in more detail.
The strict seperation between form and typographic content is consistently implemented. The robstolk logo is no exception.
Info
Title: TextCompass
Type: Print; Diagram; Folded poster
Type.dimensions: 528 × 450 mm (unfolded)
Type.printing: Two-colour (waterless offset); Double-sided
Type.paper: Olin, 40 g/m²
Type.edition: Limited copies
Designer.name: N. O. (Niels) Schrader; F. N. (Fernando) van der Vlist
Designer.affiliation: Mind Design – Gedankendesign
Programmer.name: M. (Michał) Ejdys
Programmer.affiliation: Mind Design – Gedankendesign
Author.name: N. O. (Niels) Schrader
Author.affiliation: Mind Design – Gedankendesign
Description: TextCompass is a software designed for text analysis and network visualization. From a given text, it renders a hypergraph that visualises connections between related words based on their semantic context. The concept of TextCompass was presented for the first time to the public during the Items Live 12 lectures at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, on the occasion of Wim Crouwel's exhibition A Graphic Odyssey.
To capture Wim Crouwel's visionary approach to graphic design and to understand what makes his design so unique, two inaugural speeches from his time as a professor at Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University in Rotterdam were fed into the software to produce the presented network visualization.
The infographic shows the links between keywords extracted from the speeches and the context in which they are used. The first ring presents the most meaningful words together with their number of occurrences. The outer rings define their context: immediate neighbors (second ring), words co-occurring in the same sentence (third ring) and paragraph (fourth ring). The centre of the graph visualises the links between the keywords, based on how much context they have in common.
Starting from Louis Sullivan's influential design principle “form follows function”, this cause-and-effect of design and its purpose is, at first glance, clearly embedded in a context of industrial concepts like ding (thing), product, stijl (style) and materiaal (material). But upon closer inspection, an interesting observation emerges from Wim Crouwel's statement on design. Strong links point to the seemingly unimportant word mens (human) and reveal what most designers tend to forget: the social aspect and the fact that we design objects for people.
Description.source: Mind Design – Gedankendesign
Printer: drukkerij robstolk
Printer.place: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Publisher: Mind Design – Gedankendesign; drukkerij robstolk
Publisher.place: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Date.published: Dec. 2011
Language: English (United Kingdom); Dutch (The Netherlands)
2012– fernandovandervlist.nl
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