A Digital Data Visualisation Manifesto


If you think ‘Big Data’ is just a buzzword, here are a few facts:

90% of the data in the world has been created in the past two years

By 2020 it is estimated that for every human being, 1.7 Megabytes of data will be created every second

By 2020 it is estimated that the amount of digital data created in a year would reach 44 Zetabytes or 44 trillion gigabytes (Gant, 2007).

By 2025 it is estimated that number will increase to 163 zettabytes (research group IDC).

Personal data to 3D printed sculpture, viewable in 3D, AR, or VR

We’re currently working on a 3D data visualisation project. While we can’t reveal too much just yet, an interesting line of thought has come out of it: why is data visualisation better in the movies?

Watch just about any sci-fi movie (especially Marvel ones) and there is bound to be a great narrative created by huge interactive touch screens or holograms that fill with 3D visualisations of data, largely in techno inspired hues of blue and green. Protagonists zoom in and out with a pinch or spin the luminous 3D model with a flick of the finger, zeroing in on the most pertinent information in a second.

Why then, as we approach 2020, the year data, according to many experts, will begin to swamp us, are we principally armed with two dimensional tools from around the end of the 18th century to deal with it? William Playfair invented the barchart in 1786, and the pie chart in 1801. While universally recognisable, with the advent of 3D technologies such as AR, VR, and 3D printing, isn’t it time for a new data narrative?

Data visualisation manifesto for the 21st Century.:

1) Data can be an art form

Why settle for a bar-chart when there are beautiful ways to render data on and off screen. See for example Information is Beautiful

2) Move from 2D to 3D

While not suitable or beneficial for every data set, 3D visualisations can provide data models that are explorable in virtual space. With the correspondence of headsets for VR, AR, and developments in touch controllers, we should be ushering in a new age of data exploration and interpretation.

3) Take control

Much of the data we create as individuals is held by large corporations such as Google and Facebook, they may know our browsing habits better than us. With the recent news about Facebook, it is time to consider how data usage can be ethical. You can build up your own picture of your browsing habits and change them for the better, try HabitLab

4) Data visualisations should be live

With the proliferation of fibre-optic broadband, 5G mobile data, the Internet of Things, and a dramatic increase in personal data gathering tools such as fitness and health, visual representations should become responsive in real time

5) Make it like the movies

Most of the data visualisation in movies is created in programs that have little or nothing to do with data processing and are all about visual rendering, giving us an impression of what futuristic data could look like. It is time to close the divide.

Got any thoughts to add? Hit us up in the comments section.

Want more?

Take a look at this great infographic:
50 Years of Visionary SciFi Computer Interface Design

Check out this SciFi visualisation Pinterest board

If you would like to have a chat about the above then get in touch


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