Data Flow Tunnel

Just before entering the top of the sphere vehicles ride through a data flow tunnel meant to replicate the dramatic flow of information and acceleration of knowledge sharing speed (1). The vehicles enter a tunnel where lines of light furiously race back and forth on the ceiling and the walls. This was presumably a “hyperspeed exit from time into space” as once the vehicle exits the tunnel we are brought to outer space (2).

The text below taken from the 1977 Bradbury script further describes the vision:

Excerpt from Bradbury talking about countless blinking lights
Bradbury, R. (1977). Man and his Spaceship Earth. Theme show for EPCOT Center/Future World. WED Enterprises.

In 1977, they likely had no idea just how many facts would be flowing!   The images below of the tunnel featured pink and purple strands of neon light.  I don’t know what the sound was during the first ride but the one with Walter Cronkite narrating had a whirling/wishing sound associated with it as if we were traveling at a high speed.

The Jeremy Irons narration version re-introduced the Bradbury idea of “the air filled with the sound of a million facts” giving the overwhelming feeling of “a flood of electronic babble”.  Now that it is 1994 and we have a closer idea of how much data there is out there, a few more zips and zags with lasers.

The tunnel where the vehicles enter and “rocket” into space and view Earth and the stars has now changed to a Matrix-like style with alphanumerics scrolling through the tunnel (2).  Now using a digital projection, we see a depiction of all sorts of data flowing through the tunnel.  In my option, it lacks some of the depth that the neon provided and its pretty bright!

And now, to get ready for our return to Earth…

November 23, 1994 to July 9, 2007
Narrated by Jeremy Irons

But will these seemingly infinite communications become a flood of electronic babble? Or will we use this power to usher in a new age of understanding and co-operation on this, our Spaceship Earth.

May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994

Female Announcer: Attention Time Travelers. Your time machine is about to rotate for your return to earth. Please remain seated at all times.

July 22, 1977 – Ray Bradbury script

We have gone deep down in Time to see our Spaceship Earth born in universal midnight.  With new knowledge – new technology – new communications we built new walls.   Walls that informed – changed lives, changed worlds.  Now let us point up to wall of space!  Come up to light – to stars – to worlds beyond.

  1. Pedersen, R.A. (2012).The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia. Florida, Encyclopedia Press

Header image from the Stanford Digital Humanities Specialist using Gephi – a visual network analysis package.