The (En)tangled Word Bank is a collaborative project between Stefanie Posavec and Greg Mclnerny that visualized the insertions and deletions of text through the six editions of The Origins of Species by Charles Darwin. Each diagram represents an edition of the series, and is modelled on the ‘literary organism’ structure used for On the Road by Jack Kerouac. The visualization essentially represents the meat of the text, where chapters are divided into subchapters (as per Darwin’s original text), and these subchapters are divided further into paragraph ‘leaves’; the small, wedge-shaped leaflets represent sentences, where they are colored according to whether that sentence survives to the next edition (blue), or deleted beforehand and not be within the next edition (orange). Some of the executions of the diagrams were published as large banners, where each depicted a specimen plate per edition, mimicking a botanical illustrative design. Each plate shows the original diagram, first and last chapter excerpts from the original diagram, and four extrapolations of the diagram detailing the chapters, subchapters, paragraphs, and sentences in each edition.
This design initially appealed to me from a visual perspective–I hadn’t quite evaluated or digested the data that was being represented yet, and did not really decide whether or not the design template was practical or appropriate for the data subject. I felt it was visually strong–well-executed and very organized without being overwhelming. Upon reading the intent and description, I feel what is the most successful and amusing aspect is that the tree structure is used to represent The Origin of Species of all possible texts: there is the implementation of nature in both subject and interface, especially reminiscent of taxonomy structures in biological sciences. In this way I feel like the overall design is strong in combining aesthetic appeal with its slick branches and leaves, and relevance to the subject being presented. I also like the layout of the printed banners in organizing multiple circles focusing on different depths of information.