I recently published a personal project called "The Scale of Wealth". It is a interactive 3D webpage meant to visualize the physical scale of various quantities of money. I spent about 2 months working on it as a side project, and finally got to a point where I felt satisfied to call it done (though not perfect). I went ahead and shared the link on HackerNews, /r/sideprojects, Discord, Twitter, and my work's Slack.
As with most projects like this, I always dream of it blowing up and going viral. Unfortunately for me, this project didn't achieve that vision. Looking at the project, I have an idea why.
The projects on zach.ws are heavily inspired by neal.fun, another interactive data visualization website. When I showed my mom the Size of Space on neal.fun, she was like "Now this is cool"; mind you this was after I showed her my website! I failed the mom test.
The reason why The Scale of Wealth didn't capture the attention of the viewer is simply because there is no underlying storytelling going on. In the Size of Space, the story is a familiar one, we are infinitesimally small when compared to the size of the cosmos. It further elaborates on this story by providing a visual understanding of just how small humans are. In the Scale of Wealth, there is a confused mix of stories and numbers. With some representation of the wealth of billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, as well as various climate related quantities of money.
But this project doesn't really have a cohesive narrative. A captivating narrative would have been something like:
- Look how much money these billionaires have compared to you! (tapping into populist sentiment and human desire for fairness)
- Look much we will screw ourselves if we don't to something about climate change! (tapping into climate related fear)
So going forward, I will certainly need to prioritize the storytelling aspect of projects like these. At the end of the day, I need to realize that what captures the attention of people are stories, which oftentimes in turn are used by people to learn about themselves. So I need to produce content that will satisfy that deep human desire.
Zach Bellay published on
2 min, 371 words