A month in the life of personal location and messaging metadata

Posted to Self-surveillance  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

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

Life expectancy changes

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

Graphical perception – learn the fundamentals first

Before you dive into the advanced stuff – like just about everything in your life – you have to learn the fundamentals before you know when you can break the rules.

Causes of Death

There are many ways to die. Cancer. Infection. Mental. External. This is how different groups of people died over the past 10 years, visualized by age.

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2011

I almost didn’t make a best-of list this year, but as I clicked through the year’s post, it was hard …