Blog post: Making data come alive – Real World Data Objects

I’m currently working on my first 3D, touchable, pass-aroundable, real world data object. (I’m calling these things RWDOs as I haven’t seen anyone else naming this yet but there’s probably another word out there).


The idea of creating a real object made from data came to me whilst out on a run and, like all good ideas, it’s been done before. It was easy enough to find some examples through a quick Google search but I haven’t yet seen anyone writing these up as ‘a thing’ or who has tested their ability to engage users/organisations who would otherwise be uninterested in data.

Here is an artwork by Andrej Boleslavský which shows visits to a web page over the course of a year.

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And here’s one from Volker Schweisfurth who is looking at doing very similar things with his data. You can read more about his work here.

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Why am I doing it?

Well I’m into data. But more specifically I’m interested in finding ways to make people as engaged in data as a storytelling medium as I am.

At the moment the data we consume mostly comes in spreadsheets, charts, written articles and graphics. Whilst this serves the function of informing those people who are already data literate, I think that we have a long way to go to reach those who aren’t.

People who aren’t data literate are isolated from a good deal of facts, making it harder for them to make informed decisions.

I don’t think this is about how intelligent/high achieving someone is. The CEO of a company is as much in danger of skipping over great data insights and leading her company to disaster as is the voter who would no longer be hoodwinked by the unscrupulous tabloid.

Alternative representations of data will, I believe, help in some part to bridge the gap between those who can interpret data and those who can’t.

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 13.44.25.png

What am I doing?

Well I’m hoping to make something out of the tweets that Donald Trump has sent out and compare those to an interesting other source (such as Obama’s over the same time period.

I’m going to show the results on this blog and hopefully, it’ll all be done within the next couple of months.


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