Adapting to Information infusion

How I visualized my life on a data portrait using some Interesting elements.

Keeping the context

Documenting every activity of yours in a day can be hard, but Interesting.

Not that we get a huge kickback from documenting every action of yours obsessively, but the result always tells you something that we were not aware of before.

I’ve been a fanboy of interesting and creative data visualizations, from those cricket match score overviews to that hawk-eye view of the stadium with the shots played.

From that climate-change pattern getting appreciated by the world, getting printed on wearables to ‘Dear data’ telling a beautiful story of a friendship in 52 weeks of postcards.

You get it now, visualizing data is cool, but wait, there is more to it!

Not only Data itself is interesting, but also visualizing it with the perfect blend of art and science can make the truth more clear and more understandable.

Finding gems on the Internet

Following the data, I found India In Pixels and the creative yet insightful visualizations it produced. Loved the data visualization about India, one map at a time.

Recently the creator of India In Pixels, Ashris (a phenomenal guy) came up with a DataViz course, which was a live course to follow. You tell a DataViz fan that his favorite creator is coming up with a course to teach Data Visualization, the first question they will ask is not ‘How much is it?’ it’s rather ‘How do I enroll myself in..(first)?’ and that’s what I did.

Making to make the data feel

Last weekend those classes started, It was fantastic and got to know a lot about different types of visualizations, data portraits, and their history and at last, met with a challenge. That’s what we are here for.

There were 2 challenges for this week #1,

  1. Make a data portrait that helps an alien friend of yours understand some aspect of your life. Include 1 data point which is qualitative The catch is -they don’t understand the human text but do understand numbers, shapes, geometry, colors, symbols, and signs.
  2. Definition of a good state Defines six characteristics of a good state. Find datasets that help you compare all the states of India based on these six traits.

Rarely does life throw an OR-type question at you…But when it does, I invariably choose the most unique one.

So for this week, I’m going with the data-portrait one.

Challenge (source: course slides)

Let’s get things rolling…

Here are the 3 simple steps for how I made it:

1. Collecting the Data

I document every day of mine. I mean every day. Since the beginning of this year, I have been documenting activities of mine such as:

  • Mobile Screen time
  • The no. of Videos I watched across platforms (I’m a video/audio person btw :p)
  • Focused working hours (As I’m also a student who does some stuff on the side, besides studies)
  • MMI (My Mood Index)- Rated each day out of 5. Depending upon how I felt. E.g.- 5 can indicate Very happy, something out of the world, 4 may stand for a nice cheerful day and 2 might show a day which was not so good.

Oh wait, now you know how I think about my days, sheesh! 🤫

The dataset

For this visualization, I’ll be using those data from 1st Jan 2022 to 8th Jul 2022, which comes out to be 189 days or 27 weeks.

2. Refining the Data

Refining the data was pretty simple. I just took the average of every week in that spreadsheet. For making the visualization simple the average values were then rounded off to more discrete values.

For example, if an average value is 47.29, we take it as 47. Like that 8.867 become 9 and so on.

Refined the data (Daily to weekly)

3. Visualizing the Data

Here comes the fun part. The part which took the most amount of creative effort.

Once I had the weekly average values of a certain activity, I categorized them into 4–5 levels/categories.

Those categories were used to come up with specific shapes, colors, etc.

After this is done, it was time to address the elephant in the room- How do I visualize the data?

As this included quantitative data like screentime, no. videos watched, working hours, and qualitative data like MMI, now I had to come up with a visualization that is favorable to all this and retains the criteria for the challenge.

  • I started thinking in the tangent of “This is my life in the form of some numbers, What can be an optimal way to represent a life + making the alien understand :xd ”
  • I went on Figma and started drawing random shapes and finding their strengths and flaws according to this dataset.
  • After creating tens of rectangles and absurd shapes on the canvas, I just realized my laptop battery was about to die. At that moment I saw the shape of the battery and something resonated about it.

First, a battery cell 🔋 is the source of energy ⚡️, so it can be thought of as a powerhouse for all the activities you do. And Second, It can also be compared with a water bottle. Remember the essays we used to write in school about ‘Water is life!’, ‘save water, save life’ etc.

That’s what clicked with me. So I choose to make a battery-shaped bottle to visualize every week and the elements in it as the activities with their symbols and colors. (Hope the alien 👽 knows what’s energy, battery, and stuff :p)

Deciding colors and shapes

Now it is final, Water is life! and I am using a water bottle to measure my life.

I started designing various shapes and elements to represent those activities in the bottles. And came up with some interesting and quite literal design solutions. Now I had to show 27 weeks as 27 bottles with the data.

Once the visualization was clear in my head, started designing everything in Figma. After multiple iterations finally came up with the representative elements and made the final data portrait.

Designing elements to be used in the data portrait

The reveal:

In the age where you receive and take part in tens of thousands of data points and information interactions, adapting to it without getting overwhelmed is crucial. That’s what I’m trying to do, documenting those to gather trends and insights about things that I wasn’t aware of.

Presenting to you, A data portrait of my self-documented activities from the last 27 weeks.

Hit the image to view in full screen

Insights from the visualization

Commenting on unpredictable events is hard but these are the things I gathered while I was creating this.

  1. Getting balanced with Time 😌:
    When this year i.e. 2022 started, I was barely 2 months into the 1st year of my college. Managing time with multiple things at first was hard, that’s why you will see the extremes in the beginning. But as I dabbled in different things, took multiple projects at the same time, and delivered everything in time, through that I managed to develop a good sense of time management.
    That’s the reason everything towards the end looks more balanced as compared to the beginning.
  2. Work — Mood relationship 🧑‍💻:
    Not everyone gets this privilege but as I am not committed to a single workplace or organization, I get the freedom to choose what I want to do with my time, leading to a freelancer type of workflow.
    What I have seen is that the days I work the most are the best days for MMI, and also the days where I had a comparatively better mood were the days I worked some more time.
  3. Videos are a precursor to mobile screentime 📲:
    I am more of a video/audio person, so some time of the day goes towards that. As it is across platforms and mostly mobile it tends to increase the mobile screentime. So as we progress throughout the week, we can see the video consumption decrease with the mobile screentime.

That’s all folks!

A special thanks to Ashris for the feedback on making it visually digestible.

yay!

If you have any thoughts or just wanted to say a Hi 👋, feel free to ping me on Twitter @inSitesh.

This was my 27 weeks visualized in 27 bottles. See you next week with the next challenge! Until then…. 🥂

Fun fact: I wrote the word ‘Visualization’ 11 times, and ‘Data’ 33 times throughout the post.

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Sitesh Kumar Sahoo

Sitesh Kumar Sahoo

I go straight to the end of things and write it simply • Twitter @inSitesh