Welcome to the first in a two-part essay examining the role of quantitative information and data visualization in modern society. This first part offers a critical investigation of the uniquely politicized and privileged role that quantitative information plays in our everyday lives. The second part will discuss what all of that means for those in the community of information visualization.
In February 2013, famed U2 frontman and activist Bono stood in front of an audience at TED and delivered a most curious manifesto:
“It’s fair to say that I am, by now, sexually aroused by the collating of data.”
Quirky one-liners aside: Bono’s TED talk was essentially about discussing exciting new statistics regarding world poverty. Bono promised to “forget the rock opera, the usual bombast”, instead embracing his “inner nerd” as an “evidence-based activist: a factivist”.