Two Sides of the Same Story

By: Jeff Clark    Date: Mon, 09 Nov 2009

Jer Thorp has been doing some amazing work over the last couple of years. He just wrote an excellent post called Two Sides of the Same Story: Laskas & Gladwell on CTE & the NFL where he introduces a small visualization tool to look at the similarities and differences between two articles published in October about head injuries and the NFL. The articles are Game Brain, by Jeanne Marie Laskas and Offensive Play, by Malcolm Gladwell. The image below shows an example of what his tool can do.

I have previously explored the idea of comparing and contrasting document pairs with my Document Contrast Diagrams. The diagram below was created from the same two articles that Jer used in his analysis. There are obviously a lot of differences between the two visualizations both in appearance and in the technical means of constructing the diagrams but the underlying organizational metaphor is the same:

  1. Size of words reflect frequency of use
  2. Horizontal position reflects which document uses the word the most
  3. Vertical position reflects where the words are used in the documents the most

Jer's tool seems designed more to be for interactive exploration whereas mine is focused more on creating static diagrams that try and show more information all at once. Mine also tries to illustrate emotional tone (with the little coloured triangles), the overall document size difference, and the fraction of unique or shared vocabulary.

Click to see larger version

Just to be clear, I'm NOT suggesting Jer used my work as a starting point for his own - although I'd be flattered if he did! It's just a case of two people tackling the same problem and independently coming up with a fairly obvious approach to represent the information. Those of you who like my work should check out his blog Jer has recently published the source code for a number of his projects and has plans to set free the code for this tool as well.


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