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“We’re not alone in the choices we make. We’re all connected, and it’s up to us collectively to figure out the best way to live.”
The Vacuum Design, Design Team, in Communication Arts
In the 2010 film Force of Nature, lifelong environmental scientist and activist David Suzuki maps out the problem of global overconsumption. Suzuki uses a basic example: A bacteria lives in a test tube and has enough food to multiply once every minute. In the 60th minute, the bacteria fills up the tube. But in the 59th minute, the tube is only halfway full. The same premise functions on a global scale with the human population; even if we’re far from exhausting the total amount of resources in terms of pure numbers, exponential growth means that we’re dangerously close. “Every scientist I’ve talked to agrees we’re in that 59th minute,” says Dr. Suzuki.
In The Test Tube With David Suzuki, a short online experiment that acts as a corollary to the film, Dr. Suzuki demonstrates the power of overconsumption through online interactivity. The Test Tube site begins with a question: If you could find an extra minute right now, what would you do? The user’s answer is matched up to a feed of live tweets of that same activity, matching an individual to the multitude.
The site uses data visualization to express the scale of overconsumption. By linking up a basic desire or activity to the global flurry conveyed by Twitter, the user has a chance to see the power of multiplication. The site has received over 100,000 user submissions that animate its visualizations.