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Data from art: Hemlock Hospice starts yielding results

Monday, January 22, 2018
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Hemlock Hospice Wordle

Based on the visitor log at the Harvard Forest Hemlock Hospice Art Exhibition, more than 500 people have viewed its 18 installations since the October 7th opening. Many of these visitors also have contributed to the exhibition by leaving messages on ribbons tied to the "Exchange Tree."Trees are Wise Message Now, the co-creators of Hemlock Hospice, Harvard Forest Research Associate, designer David Buckley Borden, and Harvard Forest Senior Ecologist Aaron Ellison have collected the first two months of ribbons (more than 200 of them), transcribed the messages, and used text-analysis software to study patterns in the messages. The data can be visualized in a "word cloud," which sizes the words from largest (most common) to the smallest (least common). Analysis will continue while Hemlock Hospice remains on view (through November, 2018). Future researchers will be able to work with the ribbons, and other materials associated with the exhibition, all of which will be stored in the Harvard Forest Archives.  

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