Jesper Juul has become interested in visualisations of genre histories, and in a blog post yesterday he both showed the above visualisation of the history of film genres, based on 2000 US films, and linked to his own article on the history of matching tile games, where one of his methods in mapping the history of the genre was creating a visual family tree of influences, partly based on Alfred J. Barr’s diagram of “Cubism and Abstract Art” from 1936, which, as Jesper writes, is also criticised by Tufte. Here is Jesper’s family tree of matching tile games:

Jesper and commentors to his post discuss briefly whether visual genre histories could be automatically generated, and I wonder, too, whether we could create something like this for genres of electronic literature from the data in the ELMCIP Knowledge Base of Electronic Literature. We would need to have an even more complete data set, and to make sure that everything was carefully tagged by genre, but once that was done, it would certainly be possible to generate a visualisation like the film genre visualisation above.

Another strategy is using Google trends and book search to track the use of different genre terms as I did for my Dichtung Digital paper, and wrote about in the blog as well.

Google’s ngram viewer allows us to graph the frequency with which different terms for electronic literature were used in books published between 1985 and 2008. The terms are “hypertext fiction”, “electronic literature”, “digital literature”, “digital poetry” and “e-poetry”.

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