the leaves & labels
The metaphor of the visualization was a hybrid of a generative and organic tree representing major topic branches, or themes, and the individual communications related to them. A set of algorithmic rules generated the primary structure and substructures of the visualization. The leaves were generated based on different features of the posts. For each post we analyzed characteristics such as the creation date and time, the number of comments and likes an individual post received, as well as the type of the post and its length. The values were mapped to the features of the leaves enabling the visitors to read and explore the visualization, and get an idea of the nature of the communication. For each type of message, a special leaf style was created. As likes increase the leaf turns red while the message post time defines how much the leaf flourishes. The results produced a very organic effect where messages posted during the evening and early morning yielded closed leaves that slowly opened throughout the day. The accruing number of buds spawning around a leaf indicates the number of comments.
To blur the boundaries between abstract visualization and concrete data, labels highlight important posts such as the most commented or most liked post of a category. In this way the user was able to directly explore the underlying data with their cell phone by scanning a QR code which directly sent the user to the corresponding Facebook post.
In nature, trees create beautiful organic compositions while algorithmic solutions often lead to mechanical and predictable structures and symmetry. A flexible design tool was developed to generate variations and permit manual editing to achieve a desired layout and look. The generative leaves were then automatically assigned to the branches depending on their date of creation. With this method, it is possible to ‘read’ the leaves as posts from the top of the tree down to its roots.