Oct 292012
 

Founded in 2001 to study the societal implications of the internet, the Oxford Internet Institute has a growing collection of data visualizations that sketch out the state of information proliferation worldwide.

Below we have a Time-series of the Distribution of Biographies on Wikipedia over the Last Five Centuries, which provides a startling reminder of how many people are still not part of the conversation.

To see how far our globalization has yet to go, check out the OII’s charts on Academic Knowledge and Language, User-generated Content in Google and A Geography of Twitter.

Jun 122012
 

Perspective…  we can’t get enough of it.

For instance, how long would it take to get you and your ox cart from London to Rome back in the days when they were called Londinium and Roma?  Those up for such a quest should get acquainted with ORBIS, The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World:

Spanning one-ninth of the earth’s circumference across three continents, the Roman Empire ruled a quarter of humanity through complex networks of political power, military domination and economic exchange. These extensive connections were sustained by premodern transportation and communication technologies that relied on energy generated by human and animal bodies, winds, and currents.

(click image to explore)

See you in Alexandria!

[via Ars Technica]

Apr 092012
 

Between the beginning of our universe and the present moment lies 13.5 billions years and so much data that the Information Age hasn’t even put a dent into it yet.  Not only did Earth not come together, literally, until 9 billion years after the party started, we, relatively speaking, just showed up a few moments ago.  That’s a lot of inside jokes we’ve missed out on, not to mention all the other universes or unknown entities potentially beyond our present understanding.

Despite the disadvantage, the field of Big History was born in the 1980’s with the simple goal of studying history from the beginning of time to the present across multiple disciplines of knowledge.  How’s it going so far?  Judge for yourself by checking out ChronoZoom, a collaboration between Microsoft Research, UC Berkeley and Moscow State University.

(click to explore ChronoZoom)

While visually impressive, you might still wonder where you are going to find the time to dive into such a study or why you should even care given that you haven’t filed your taxes yet, but perhaps Bill Gates will one day save up enough money to give us all a couple of days off for such a purpose.  Until then, more information can be found at the Big History Project and from David Christian’s TED talk on the subject.

[via Flowing Data]
[Related Posts: Carl Sagan's Cosmic Calendar, Get Your Perspective On]

Step 1: Counting Abstract Objects

 Posted by on December 27, 2011
Dec 272011
 

It wasn’t just crickets and then computers.  Civilization has been wrestling with data since the start.  Do a Google search and you’ll find that we’re still struggling to get a handle on what we know.  Perhaps it would help to consider our approach historically.  Wolfram|Alpha has prepared a special timeline of computable knowledge for just such an endeavor…

(click to explore the timeline)

[Advance of the Data Civilization: A Timeline via Stephen Wolfram|Blog]