The Future is an artwork by Alicia Eggert and Safwat Saleem which is part of our PEACE collection. For three days in April 2015 we displayed it in Salon Fray Tomas del Toro in the beautiful Casa 1537 in Cartagena, Columbia, as part of the Cartagena Data Festival.
The Cartagena Data Festival is a meeting of around 400 International actors in the development sector who have convened to discuss how to continue to activate the "data revolution" for good.
Everyone in the development community needs to comprehend what data do exist and what do not. It is evident that effective representation and visualisation of data will play a key role in helping to solve some of our global issues. Whether it is through direct statistic-driven provocation or more subtle techniques, the use of data in engaging people can be very powerful.
The Future comprises 206 lightbulbs, each of which represents a sovereign state. If the lightbulb is on, the country is at peace. he artists decided which countries were at peace based on data from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) and warsintheworld.com.
Showing The Future at Cartagena Data Festival (for international development folks) highlighted that data is disputable (surprised?). A number of people questioned why their country was not lit up, they were sure that they were at peace - one in particular, a government advisor was certain her country was not in conflict.
So, what does 'at peace' mean in this context? Many internally peaceful countries have soldiers in other countries; it turns out that Luxembourg has troops in Afghanistan.
What also became clear from the audience was that some data was not up-to-date, or was supplied by an uninformed or biased source. Our online reputations are as good as the last thing posted about us, whether we are a country or a person.
We wish to thank the Overseas Development Initiative and the Open Data Institute for enabling us to host The Future in Cartegena.