The aim of Historic Thames is to visualise the history of the Thames throughout time. This visualisation was inspired by the quote by MP John Burns in 1929- who famously stated “The St Lawrence is water, the Mississippi is muddy water, but the Thames is liquid history”. This visualisation shows the importance of the River Thames, and how it influenced the growth of London through the Ice Age, the Norman Invasions, the Great Stink and towards the 21st century developments such as Docklands, the O2 arena and the many tourist attractions along the Thames such as the Eye, London Bridge, Tower Bridge and Big Ben.
The History of the Thames visualisation is created in Processing and utilises the WordCram Library which is an open source Processing Library released at WordCram.org (Daniel Bernier, 2010). This library was inspired by Wordle (Wordle, 2014) which is a website that creates a word cloud by analysing the frequency and rank of every word in a particular piece of text. The WordCram library takes this concept of the word cloud and creates it for easy use in Processing. I chose to use this library as it does all of the “heavy lifting- text analysis, collision detection, bin-packing- for you” (Daniel Bernier, 2010). By choosing to do this visualisation in Processing rather than just export the results from the Wordle website, it results in an interactive visualisation that provided greater control on colours, size and positioning of words.
The data for this visualisation is sourced from RiverThames.co.uk which is a comprehensive history of the Thames (Briggs, 2014). Within the WordCram library, it allows an input mask, for which I used the iconic Thames boundary.