Northern Words

Visualizing the evolution of ten years of new media discourse

Inspired by the ebb and flow dance of the Northern Lights that frequent the skies above the Banff Centre in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, Northern Words is a visualization of the evolution of the Banff New Media Institute (BNMI) discourse from 1993 to 2004.

Word frequency statistics were generated using text analysis software that analyzed the corpus of texts in BNMI’s 1993-2004 archives (websites, summit agendas, press releases, etc.). These frequencies were mapped both to word size and glow intensity. Large words with a bright glow behind were important topics in the discourse in that year, while small words with a dark sky behind were less significant.

Read the columns vertically to discover the popular topics for a particular year, read the rows horizontally to discover the evolution of particular topics over time.