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Of Typewriters and Ginkgo Trees

I love Jazz.  I also think typewriters are pretty cool, although I can’t believe that people actually got very much work accomplished on them.  I guess that shows my age.

So, it’s not to hard to believe that I’m pretty interested and excited to have the original typescript of Kerouac’s On The Road coming to the IMA for an exhibition… (see On the Road Again with Jack Kerouac and Robert Frank )

I’m also kind of an info-dork.  I love graphs and charts or all sorts.  Anyone else who is equally geeked up on crazy ways to view information should really check out the Information Aesthetics Blog. It’s a really great set of creative and artistic ways of representing information. But, I digress…

One day, perusing this blog, I happened to stumble upon the work of Stefanie Posavec. She must be a genius because her work is so beautiful and insightful! What really caught my eye was some work she has done in visualizing the textual structure of none other than Kerouac’s On The Road!

Literary Organism

Spreading out link leaves of a Ginkgo tree, this beautiful example of infovis at its finest shows all sorts of interesting details about Kerouac’s novel.  Each branch of the tree represents chapters, paragraphs, even the sentences and words used in the novel. 

ginkgo.jpgEach is colored by what topic it relates to like light blue for “Travel” and green for “Bop and Jazz Music”.  By doing this it’s really easy to see for example that Kerouac talks about “Work and Survival” almost solely in chapters 11 and 13.  I love the simplicity and insight that she achieves here, and with such a beautiful aesthetic!  If all graphs and charts were this engaging we would have paid more attention in school!

The article on the NotCot Blog has a number of examples of her work with On The Road that cover the arrangement of topics as above, as well as visualizations of sentence length and even Kerouac’s use of punctuation and italics!  Definitely worth a look see!



Filed under: Exhibitions, Musings

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