Sapient Razorfish Debuts Live Databloom At EU Money Conference

Data visualization guru Mike Pell, who spoke a couple of years back at the DSrupted conference I ran in Toronto, talks about the difference between a visualization that is clearly beautiful, versus one that is beautifully clear.

The big interactive agency SapientRazorfish is showing a digital installation this week at the Money2020 payments and financial services conference in Amsterdam. It’s called the Open Futures Databloom. It is described this way: Imagine each data source as a seed, arranged with you at the centre… Our installation uses cutting edge technologies to bring to life the power of data for people, businesses and brands. 

I think it tilts much more to clearly beautiful than beautifully clear.

It looks beautiful, but without what amounts to a museum docent explaining things, would a viewer get anything out of it? I’m not sure how taking data about someone and visualizing that as a dandelion is much more than conference eye candy.

There’s got to be a happy medium, I think, between plain old data charts and numbers that give a user what he or she needs or wants to know, and data art. I think data can indeed just be visualized as art pieces, but the proposition with this sort of thing is that it is delivering insights.

If someone whipped up a visual that shows my connected life like this, my cascade of reactions would be, “Oh cool.” Followed by “That’s nice.” And wrapping up with “Ok, ummm, thanks.”