Prescriptive or predictive information visualisation?

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Something that’s starting to tick me off in the world of information visualisation goes back to why people found it interesting to begin with. When we didn’t know any better, we’d leave information visualisation to Powerpoint and Excel and only insiders and people who’d been to the right schools were able to make any sense of it. The meaning of the information was hidden behind a layer of understanding the average person lacked.

In an age of obsession with visually displaying information (thanks Mr Tufte) that is not directly accessible to us (such as how much carbon is being emitted, information is more accessible to the masses of course, but I’m wondering if that’s all there is to it. “Oh, wow, thats all lot!” is pretty much where information visualisation leaves me at the moment or “Oh, nice!”

We are at a pivital moment where we are collectively starting to suffer from doom’s-day fatigue and our ability to see into the future and observe the consequences of our everyday actions is trumped by these constant visualisations of the depressing “now”.
Part of being a responsible adult is supposed to be about taking responsability for our actions and understand that they have consequences is it not? Why can’t our technologies help us with that? I would like to see us move towards a world full of little everyday objects that give me a glimpse into the future if I keep doing things the way I do, total yearly bills based on my current usage, predictions about how much I’ll have to spend on food and how much weight I’ll gain if I keep at the current pace. It’s not prescriptive and I don’t think it’ll be depressing. It’s just making information I need to lead a sustainable life, more easily accessible and more empowering than simple clever reporting.

I guess that used to be on the next slide.

One thought on “Prescriptive or predictive information visualisation?

  1. Pretty profound. I agree – information that is ‘feed forward’ or ‘concurrent feeback’ is far more useful than feedback – which a) is too late and b) usually provided laden with someone else’s vested interests.

    Temperamentally, though, I just never was a luddite. I become alarmed when people ignore the fundamentals.

    Lack of elegance and functionality, concealed payments, entrenched privilege. When we are pursuing those, we tend to move forwards.

    Have you seen Venter’s talk on TED?

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