A New Way To Visualize Data: BBC Dimensions Puts History Into A Personal Context

A New Way To Visualize Data: BBC Dimensions Puts History Into A Personal Context

The latest iteration of BBC Dimensions gives personal context to history by allowing you to compare the number of people in your networks to the number of people involved in historical events.

Paloma M. Vazquez
  • 21 september 2011

BBC and BERG have collaborated to develop Dimensions as a series of experimental prototypes that will help visitors place historical facts into a more personal, relatable context. While How Big Really? was the first iteration a year ago, How Many Really? will now compare the number of people involved in key historical situations to the number of people you know on Twitter or Facebook (or to a custom set of comparative numbers you add yourself).

According to BERG and BBC:

We want to bring home the human scale of events and places in history. For example: had the D-Day landing beaches been in Britain they would have measured from London to Norfolk; how far would the Titanic stretch down your street?; and if we lived in the democracy of classical Athens, would you have got the vote? Dimensions simply juxtaposes the scale of historical events with the size of things you know – your home, your neighbourhood, your social networks.

We love this idea for its simplicity in communicating the breadth and impact of historical events in a way that people can relate to in their microcosms. The internet 0- in spite of its wondrous ability to connect us — generally still falls short of personalizing statistics and their meaning. We hope Dimensions evolves to include more contemporary, global events, as well, so that a student in America, for instance, can attribute more personal meaning — and dimension — to what x number of children dying of starvation each year truly means in the context of the number of people they know.

We also can’t help but wonder if this prototype presents a new way to visualize data within a more personal context.

BBC Dimensions: How Many Really?


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