Eyebeam, an art and technology research center, has posted two eco-viz challenges to get artists and technologists thinking about data visualization and the role it plays in raising environmental awareness. The first challenge is to create an eco-icon that signals something about the environment. It might be displayed as a sign or on a cell phone. The second challenge is to create an eco-viz that focuses on a data set and displays the data in a novel way.
This is exactly why eco-viz has become so important. Consumers (myself included) don’t know how they’re wasting resources and the effect they’re having on the environment. All consumers know is that the longer they leave the lights on or the higher they turn up the heat, the more money they have to pay at the end of the month. If consumers are consistently wasteful, then a high bill won’t seem that unusual. A few more dollars per month isn’t enough to get someone to turn the thermostat down a few degrees.
As Peter B. Crabb put it in Control of Energy-depleting Behavior (1992)
[P]eople do not use energy; they use devices and products. How devices and products are designed determines how we use them, which in turn determines rates of energy depletion.
The deadline for the eco-icon challenge is coming up soon — November 5. There’s more time until the eco-viz deadline — December 8.