Introducing Data Graphica: The art and science of information

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Credit: Reuven Cohen

In the world of technology, few things are as important as data and information. In a world fraught with opportunity and risk, data has become a central part of business. From Big Data to Data Breach, information is the essential commodity fueling the modern world. Yet with all the talk of the importance of data, the majority of it sits unused and, worst yet, not understood. 

Globally, the amount of data being generated is increasing faster than can be imagined, more than doubling every two years. Today, close to 5 billion people have access to or own some kind of a mobile device, with close to 2 billion using a smartphone. According to EMC/IDC, 1.7 megabytes of data is created every minute for every person on Earth. Adding to this deluge is an ever-increasing pool of Internet-connected things.

Although first described more than 50 years ago, we are only now entering the dawn of the information age. It's a time marked by not only the creation of vast amounts information, but thanks to new forms of analytics and visualization, it also marks the beginning of an enlightened age driven by an immense amount of information being collected from all aspects of the world around us.

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of "information" now runs 9,400 words, the length of a novella. It is in itself a sort of masterpiece—an adventure in cultural history. A century ago, "information" did not have much resonance. It was a nothing word. "An item of training; an instruction." Now it defines the very era in which we live, "the era in which the retrieval, management, and transmission of information, esp. by using computer technology, is a principal (commercial) activity."

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Today, the vast quantity of data is growing at an incredible 40% per year. By 2020, the amount created globally every year is expected to reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes. In the time it has taken me to write this post, I would have created 100 megabytes data, if not more. Yet most of this data is transient – unsaved Netflix or Hulu movie streams, or Xbox gamer interactions, temporary routing information in networks, sensor signals discarded when no alarms go off, etc. Just 0.5% of global data is ever actually used. Herein lies the paradox – there is a lot of valuable data all around us, but it will take determination and a skilled workforce to find and put it to use. It will need to be protected, analyzed, and acted upon. Data is just data; but information, insight, and understanding is power.

The focus of this blog is to explore the limitless potential of data in its visual form. From emerging technologies to data scientists to designers shaping the way we understand information, Data Graphica will showcase the very best in the world of data science and information design.

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