Originally Posted on February 7, 2017 at 4:06 pm on Machines Room
Ruby Childs expands on her experience with Data Physicalisation, a key element in her Maker in Residence project here at Machines Room, and surveys some Data Physicalisation projects which inspire her.
Data Physicalisation is the process of representing data in the physical world. We’ve seen a wealth of techniques in fabrication, interfaces and responsive displays to represent such data. It goes beyond traditional visualisation processes, which are often static. Why do we need to Physicalise Data? Right now, the world has an overload of data. The issue is that the data is not always good quality. Anyone working with data will tell you, its better to have a smaller, high quality dataset than one with volume and of poor quality. Computers process terabytes of data per day, with a lot discarded. But with this volume, we do need understanding. We as data users do not even know what data is being used and tracked. Every click on that website, every purchase, even our daily walks in local neighbourhoods are being recorded by CCTV. Yet data is determining our choices before we have even made them. It is shaping our world, what we do, how we act.
As a Data Scientist myself, I actually play with the data, I obtain these insights and shape the way people experience their data, even if unknowing. But many forget this data is being generated by our actions. We as a society have become disconnected with data in a time when the world is using it most. Data is seen as streams of numbers, in the so-called “cloud”. But adding a physical interface to data allows it to become tangible. This brings me onto Data Physicalisation: the aim to help people explore, understand and communicate their data.