Data Visualizations

During 2020 and 2021 data was a huge part of my life. During the winter and spring of 2020 I had an omnipresent tab open of a dashboard tracking the spread of COVID-19 - before it was a pandemic, and there were just hotspots in Asia and small ones appearing in each state of the US. Those were the graphics we saw constantly on the news or across the internet. At the same time I was working on a project to build a massive geospatial analysis tool for telecom - my life was maps, and data points, and generating charts and graphs of that data, and devising the right strategies to show that data in the right ways.

I started noticing things in my personal life that I could also track and visualize. Some are rich in data, some are very simple. They are all useless.

A big part of office life pre-pandemic was the crossword; we could count on the New York Times being on the office kitchen counter open to the crossword each day. For a while we had a streak going of hundreds of consecutive days. That slowly went away once work went remote, but I kept a habit of doing the Sunday each week. The NYT app keeps a timer and tells you when you're halfway done, three quarters, and finished. I started keeping these records and graphing them.

This one is a fun observation of my body. As my energy level increases after drinking caffeine, how do my music choices change?

And then, what does that graph look like for one single artist, someone with such a varied catalog of albums and styles?

I made this in 2017 or 2018, on a work trip to the east coast. I was jet lagged, had difficulty getting to sleep each night, and felt like I was always tired.

I've had this one going for several years. I built my bike from random parts and it's evolved over time - as my preferences changed, or just bought better components. I wanted to make something to track that metamorphosis.

Did my wife and I eat 6 chicken sandwiches in a single day to get this data? Totally. Each was then graded from 1-5 across five categories we defined.

An observation of how creativity ramps up, and eventually drops off, the longer you persist on one problem. We often have instincts and initial ideas immediately upon starting, which are often fine, but exist in the lower blue section. The trick is stick at it, keep iterating, keep ourselves to innovate. Once we're up in that pink section we're amazed looking back at our first ideas. But it does eventually reach an apex where creativity finally is maxed out, and the ideas become repetitive.

"The Big Dark" is a term we use a lot in my current home of Seattle: the period (loosely) between November and March, when the clocks change, it's full-on nighttime by 5, and our previously sunny days are pervaded by clouds and gloom. It's evident because of the stark contrast between this and our long days the other months of the year. I wanted to see how the delta between seasons compares to life at other latitudes: Alaska, where my in-laws live, and Florida, where my family is. Data from NOAA.

Click this one to enlarge

What does the timeline look like for a non-linear movie like the Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day? Alongside this spiral, how could I also convey how much time is spent at each location, and track main character Phil's relationship with his love interest Rita?


Now What?