Monday, November 21, 2011

The Economist has Us Drowning in Numbers - Again

The Economist has yet another excellent video on the 'deluge of data'. This time we are drowning in numbers. The short take is that there are more and more numbers – so much so that we need to learn new names to track the numbers: Giga, Tera, Peta, Exa, Zetta and Yotta - the last being a number with 24 zeros.

The video, however, makes no recommendations as to how we are to understand those numbers, come to grips with what they mean and to use them in productive manners. But then that is what this website is for.

We have to remember that these numbers represent real things: containers being shipped, heartbeats, a movie being watched, the number of shoes being sold per location, prisoners being transported, photons arriving from distant objects and much much more.

In many ways, if you just had to consider numbers, then this might not be too difficult. But when you consider that each of these numbers is a representation of something happening out there in the real world then you can begin to comprehend that comprehending all that data and doing something useful with it is what we will really be drowning in. It's not just the numbers that count, it's the numbers plus the metadata.

So as this website will point out time and time again, we need new ways of curating the data and we need new ways of displaying the data. All of this has to be based on animation and 3-D and the technology being made available in today's gaming systems.