I'm working on a project that looks at the nature of electronic data (bits/bytes, storage) and the exploding nature of data traffic on the internet from 1990 to projected 2016.
For one part of this project, I've developed an incrementing counter that compares data-traffic per second for the years 1990, 2000, 2010, 2013 and 2016. Quite interestingly, the scale of difference between the years has been absolutely mindblowing from a purely numerical perspective.
See below a purely mechanical representation of this data:
I'm struggling to settle on a dynamic visualisation that will illustrate this per-second data traffic of each year, whilst still providing the user of the full context of what they're seeing - for example, a vertical bar that you scroll down might work in theory, but in practice the 2016 forecast traffic is so much larger than 1990 that you would be scrolling down infinitely to see the bar's end, and completely lose sight of 1990's miniscule bar, and therefore lose comprehension of the scale itself.
Another related problem is the matter of infinity. We've realised that at some point the data will be so large at some point that it WILL break the display, unless it is purely numerical strings.
How could you visually compare values of massively different orders/sizes?