An educational exhibit that teaches people about binary communication, by providing a fun and accessible demonstration of how computers encode and send text data.
For those who want to learn about binary communication, there are few good options. The only resources available on the subject are jargonistic verbal explanations or convoluted diagrams that are impossible to comprehend without a previous understanding of the material. Water Works focuses on illustrating how computers encode, send and decode text in simple two-way communication. To send a message, the computer converts text character into a unique combination of 0s and 1s; then, on the reading end, the computer reads these values and converts them back to the original message. Water Works consists of two computers sending text to each other via serial binary communication. However, instead of representing each bit (1 or 0) as high or low voltages going across a wire, Water Works sends mineral oil and colored water through a tube, using the clear oil to represent 0s and the water to represent 1s. Through this faithful recreation of the process, the user can learn about the general process, or even learn each individual binary value of the typical typing character.