Terrific Visualization of Digital Information Explosion

by on February 11, 2011 · 11 comments

Here’s an amazing graphic that appeared in today’s Washington Post depicting how digital information has grown exploded over the past two decades. It’s better viewed on a large monitor from this link on the Post website. And here’s the accompanying Post article. The underlying data come from a new study by Martin Hilbert and Priscila Lopez of the University of Southern California, which is entitled, “The World’s Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information.” It appears in the latest issue of Science but is not available without a subscription.

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  • http://www.beaugunderson.com/ Beau Gunderson

    Why does this visualization not use a straight bottom axis? If it’s supposed to be symmetrical then why does the black line slope downward from 1986 to 2000? Why is this design choice not explained in a legend or with explanatory text?

  • Grismar

    It looks like there was only data for 4 moments in time, each 7 years apart from the next and the results have been vertically centered? Is this the case? Is there no data in the intermediate period or is there some other reason to present it like this? (I’m assuming the centering is supposed to show that the balance between digital and analog keeps heading out towards digital at an accelerating rate)

  • Grismar

    It looks like there was only data for 4 moments in time, each 7 years apart from the next and the results have been vertically centered? Is this the case? Is there no data in the intermediate period or is there some other reason to present it like this? (I’m assuming the centering is supposed to show that the balance between digital and analog keeps heading out towards digital at an accelerating rate)

  • http://www.techliberation.com Adam Thierer

    It’s my understanding that because of the sheer volume of data they were dealing with, only 4 years were chosen to make the comparison.

  • Rx Tx

    Why are you such a picky little bitch, Beau?

  • http://www.beaugunderson.com/ Beau Gunderson

    Asking for the reasoning behind poor design decisions on a graph that’s called both ‘terrific’ and ‘amazing’ is hardly picky.

  • Anonymous

    How moronic does one have to be to regard “information” as something that can be quantified like this?

    If you look at this graph, what it basically tells us is that the amount of information has increased. But with this quantified perception of info we could for instance “double” the information stored in the Vatican Library, just by photocopying it.

  • http://twitter.com/Bizroot Alok Kumar

    Is there no data in the intermediate period or is there some other reason to present it like this? (I’m assuming the centering is supposed to show that the balance between digital and analog keeps heading out towards digital at an accelerating rate)
    http://www.articlesmoz.com/radialabs-instant-wrinkle-reducer-reviews

  • http://www.articlesmoz.com/radialabs-instant-wrinkle-reducer-reviews Addy

    only 4 years were chosen to make the comparison.
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