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Pop!Tech - Art and Data Driving Change
Robert Katz, 19 Oct 07
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October 18, morning -- Want to get someone to change the way they live? To change their habits, lifestyles, mores, opinions? Lectures don't work - almost anyone will zone out. Data help - but numbers can be soporific, too.

It may be obvious to anyone who has ever attended a PowerPoint presentation, but if you want to captivate an audience, you've got to use images. Here at Pop!Tech, the first presentation is on exactly that: art, statistics, and understanding the human impact.

Chris Jordan is a photographer and artist whose raison d'etre is to help Americans understand the scale of our mass consumption. He uses data and art together, and it makes for a compelling talk.

When it comes to consumerism and waste, it’s often difficult to comprehend scale. Through photography, Chris Jordan puts American and global issues into perspective in an effort to help us grasp their magnitude. For example, his photographs show what two million plastic bottles (used in the U.S. every five minutes) look like. He has used nine million alphabet blocks to represent the number of uninsured American children. Chris’s photographs have garnered attention from The New York Times, CNN, and ABC World News, and have been featured in magazines and articles from Hong Kong to Sao Paulo. His current exhibit, Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait, addresses the impact American consumerism and greed have on our culture and our planet.

While he's telling Pop!Tech attendees about American mass consumption through art, Chris' message resonates somewhat differently for me. All the while, I'm thinking about how those of us in the base of the pyramid community can do this. How can we use data and art to convey a compelling story about the scale of business opportunities at the base of the economic pyramid (BOP)? Sure, The Next 4 Billion: Market Size and Business Strategy at the Base of the Pyramid got things started in terms of visual representations of BOP data. But it's not compelling enough on its own.

Has anyone seen a good example of someone using BOP data and scale and art to convey a story about the opportunities here? Comments are open...

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