Policy by the Numbers
Data for policymaking from Google and friends.
Arts, science, and reaching 10^X
Friday, April 13, 2012
It’s hard to comprehend the scale of the Internet. One hour of video uploaded to YouTube every second, 250 photos uploaded to Facebook every day, 440 blogs for each autobiography available on Amazon, and more than 1 trillion unique webpages on top of that.
But in the aggregate, what is the
power of the Internet
? What do all those
numbers really mean
This isn’t a new sort of question. Artists and scientists have worked together for a long time to try to make sense of the complexity in the world. One classic example is
Powers of 10
, the 1968 short film written and directed by Charles and Ray Eames that the Library of Congress has since selected for preservation for being
"culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Today, the film may seem odd. It’s not particularly magical to see a camera zoom 10^24 meters up and shrink down to the size of a proton in a carbon atom.
But at the time the film was released, its producers saw it differently. The filmmaker’s grandson had this to
about the intent of the film’s producer,
International Business Machines
"IBM believed that if you educate society, you not only do a positive good, you also create a group of people who are better able to appreciate the work and products of IBM." In this case, “The film conveys a holistic vision of the universe and really helps people grasp the concept of 'scale' and its importance in understanding our world.”
IBM couldn’t explain scale just by writing an equation or drawing a diagram for people. Facts alone wouldn’t impact most people. They had to turn those facts into knowledge. They had to show people “a holistic vision of the universe,” not just tell them about it.
And IBM wasn’t alone. For instance, in 1966,
led a campaign to get NASA to release the very first photos of the Earth as seen from space, in hopes that the images would help people see the world differently.
IBM and Brand both believed that their blending of science and art could lead people to see themselves as part of a much bigger community, and that the collective
would be more powerful than the sum of the individual parts.
So what could demonstrate the
power of the internet
community to itself? I don’t know, but if we can figure it out then the sum might be greater than the individual parts.
Posted by Derek Slater, Policy Manager
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