A month in the life of personal location and messaging metadata

Oct 13, 2015

Data researcher and artist Mimi Onuoha looked at the personal location and messaging data from four groups of people in a project called Pathways. It’s less about how much we can find out from a person’s traces and more about what the data doesn’t capture.

The interesting thing about this group was the degree to which their data couldn’t capture the reality of what they were experiencing. I was present for the goodbye their data leads up to, and I witnessed every bit of its difficulty. But data visualizations add a level of abstraction over real world events; they gather the messiness of human life and render it in objective simplicity. In life, goodbyes can be heartbreaking affairs, painful for all involved.

But on a map, a goodbye is as simple as one dot moving out of view.

Favorites

How You Will Die

So far we’ve seen when you will die and how other people tend to die. Now let’s put the two together to see how and when you will die, given your sex, race, and age.

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2014

It’s always tough to pick my favorite visualization projects. Nevertheless, I gave it a go.

Life expectancy changes

The data goes back to 1960 and up to the most current estimates for 2009. Each line represents a country.

A Day in the Life of Americans

I wanted to see how daily patterns emerge at the individual level and how a person’s entire day plays out. So I simulated 1,000 of them.