Posts Tagged ‘TED’


Biggie biggie biggie, can’t you see…

In Politics on April 16, 2010 by datanamics Tagged: , , , , , , ,

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Discover a very insightful data-based project led by Richard Saul Wurman, the TED conferences founder and chairman. A prominent graphic designer, Wurman dedicated most of his work to making information understandable for all. Lit up with a genuine passion for geography, the man with a plan wrote over 80 books, including 22 city guides and atlases.

Richard Saul Wurman

His latest piece of work, the 19-20-21 Super city project, happens to satisfy this endeavour. This interactive vizualisation analyzes 19 of the cities of the world that will shelter more than 20 million people by the end of the 21st century. Beyond a catchy title, the project aims to shed light on the unprecedented mass urbanization and its impact on the environment and people.

The mentioned cities, from LA to Jakarta, are chosen as case studies exploring the impact of this population phenomenon. A striking mutation: in 1900, 150 million people lived in urban areas vs 3 billion as I type these words. The figures are expected to reach the 2/3 of the global population by 2050. Hence dramatic shifts to be considered in terms of urban and health policies.

“While some say the world is flat, supercities are rising – vast, intensely urban hubs will radically redefine the world’s future macroeconomic and cultural landscape. Most of the world’s population right now lives and works in cities. Many more will. It’s critical to gain a truer understanding of what’s happening: the rise of supercities is the defining megatrend of the 21st century.”  (Richard Saul Wurman).

Facing a potentially dire situation, the countries of the world can no longer maintain a free-for-all scheme, and should rather come together and reflect on common issues, the study reveals. Many issues are at stake,  such as global warming, fishing or the rise of sea waters. The reshuffle of  the decision making power is the promise of both challenges and opportunities ahead.

“A Globe of Water”

"A Greener Globe"

Hence another power of database journalism : the ability to spark powerful vizualisation, while words struggle to reach out to us when the going gets tough.

Whistleblower : the White Rabbit

“Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be too late !” shrieked the White Rabbit, upstarting. We all know that database journalism is all about storytelling. As a matter of fact, if this 19-20-21 vizualisation was to tell a story, it would probably be Alice in Wonderland, I reckon. Remember, when Alice meets up with the White Rabbit, she becomes trapped in his house after growing too large. World cities are growing, too. The clock is ticking. Let’s not get trapped in Underland.