Is there such a thing as word visualisation? Most of us are familiar with the term data visualisation. For instance, Information is Beautiful produces some of the most spellbinding infographics you can find online or in the books that founder David McCandless has created. Information is Beautiful is dedicated to distilling the world’s data, its information and knowledge, and making them into beautiful infographics and visualisations. And they do it well. More about that for another time.

Over recent years, representing data in a more visually aesthetic way has become an art form. Wildly varying visual interpretations of data have made it a truly effective communication tool. However, whereas images are optional, billions of people around the world say, write and read words every moment of every day. Expressing ourselves with words is as essential as food and water.

Aside from dictionaries and thesauruses, there are plenty of sites on the internet that show you the meaning of words. Many of them also show a word’s possible associations, such as ‘rhymes with’, ‘is the opposite of’, but none do so visually.

Visuwords is a visual dictionary, thesaurus and interactive lexicon. Its interface is clear and colourful. Using the graphs, visuwords say their tool can be used by writers, journalists or other word wizards to associate words, expand on concepts and generally brainstorm.

So, as an example, type in a word, like ‘teamwork’.

Example of visuwords visualisation map using ‘Teamwork’

Once the visual map appears, click on each word to read a description. The legend on the left shows you the associations (coloured lines) and the coloured bubbles the type of word. This tool uses Princeton University’s WordNet, an open source database built by University students and language researchers.

It’s a great start to a visual conversation around the complexities of words, their associations and their meaning.

So, what would you like a visual word map to do?

Penny for your thoughts?