There is a revolution going on in information. The revolution involves millions of people figuring out new ways to collect, store, categorize, retrieve and present information. These efforts involve coders, mathematicians, database wizards, graphic designers and any other professional with design sensibilities. Evidence of progress appears daily in USA Today, Time and New York Times – papers with departments devoted to taking complex information and showing it to us visually and clearly. Click for full size image:
Why is this necessary? Because there is too much existing information for our brains to hold it and process it and associate it and call it into consciousness whenever you really need it. If you read the New York Times, you get more information in one day than you would have processed during your entire lifetime in the 1600s.[i] More information has been created in the last 30 years, than in the previous 5,000 years.[ii]
Complex pieces of information can be presented more efficiently with pictures, using spatial relationships, visual cues and color than using 1,000 words of black and white prose. Information will increasingly get filtered, compiled, categorized and displayed. We will lose nuance, but we’ll pick up speed and beauty and access. And the revolution will be colorized.
[i] Wurman, Richard, Information Anxiety (1989).
[ii] Fifty years ago, a writer wrote this in The Atlantic:
“Thus far we seem to be worse off than ever before—for we can enormously extend the record, yet even in its present bulk we can hardly consult it.”
…and things have only gotten worse.