our lives in the digital era
Terra data opens the black boxes of digital technologies.


One in three French people have already tried to erase personal information on the web, and 6 out of 10 among the millennial.  Sensors and technology are constantly digitizing the world, producing staggering amounts of data: big data. But what is this data? The exhibition shows that everything is measurable, and encourages visitors to be actors in their discoveries.
The exhibition focuses on an important topic in today's society: the consequences of rapid digitization. Four main questions define the visit:

What is data? Today, every aspect of the world around us can be measured. Increasing numbers of computers, smartphones and other connected objects each continuously generate enormous volumes of data. This exhibition explores the tremendous diversity of this information, which is constantly increasing as new data-gathering tools are developed.

How do we handle data? Collecting data is not enough, it then has to be turned into usable knowledge. That is done using algorithms that cross-reference and analyze sets of data that could not be processed by humans alone. But what is an algorithm? It is a systematic method that uses a sequence of simple actions to achieve a result. In everyday life, we often use algorithms without realizing it –to tie our laces, look up a word in a dictionary or, as one Terra Data hands-on exhibit demonstrates, knot a tie! But how are algorithms described in information science?

What does data change? The development of digital technology is influencing a growing number of scientific fields, from neurosciences to climatology, epidemiology to astronomy. Various fields of economic activity are also impacted by the potential of data processing, including insurance, intelligence, employment, agriculture and health. The effects of data on our lives and societies are very real. For example, market platforms gather data, process it and then analyze the results to offer new services. Users are no longer necessarily charged for a service: they can ‘pay’ with their data. So it is not surprising that new kinds of data-analysis jobs are being created every day!

Where does data bring us? There is so much interaction between technology and society today that technological developments have environmental, social and human impacts that go far beyond their initial aims. Smartphones, for instance, provide a range of data such as their serial number, location and social contacts, sometimes without their users’ knowledge. While this constant data collection may seem concerning, “big data” has its benefits: this data can be used to examine the environment, pollution and radioactivity.

In this exhibit, new technologies are deciphered in a colorful, modern and interactive universe. About thirty tables serve as a support for audiovisual, multimedia and graphic arts, helping visitors understand a world in the midst of an economic and cultural revolution.