visualizing everyday life

The data visualization in my life is primarily in the business-world. At my day job: how do we ensure that people decisions at Google are data-driven? In my presentations and workshops: who is our audience, what do they need to know, and how do we craft a visual and story to do that?

But many take data visualization into the personal sphere as well: using visualization to better understand aspects of their world or their life. I encountered one such example recently, when a data viz course participant at Google shared an example he created:

"Hi all,  Here is silly little thing I cooked up over the weekend. My wife likes fresh tomatoes, of what are called heirloom varieties (not the big commercial ones) - 16 different ones each year in our garden. We used to have trouble selecting which ones to grow each time, for the last 4 years have kept pretty good records of them, so I wanted to see if there were any patterns.

This is my first such chart after taking the basic data viz class, where I had a chance to sit and think about how to make it look. 

I did violate the color palate guidelines a bit, to color code each tomato by type. But this makes the type of tomato stand out, as well as the pattern."

Neil goes on to say, "Interestingly enough, until I graphed it, I didn't know that we rarely have a yellow tomato invited back a second year. Our by year lists (stored on a wiki at home) tended to mask that information." 

I love the use of data viz for this sort of problem solving: what type of tomatoes should I plant this year? I think Neil's next challenge will be to identify and start recording and visualizing some success measures (e.g. plant yield, flavor) to really hone his future garden crops.

This reminded me of another food-related data viz I saw some time ago, where a woman had tracked everything she ate for a year, then created a number of visualizations based on the data. You can read about that and see the visuals in this Flowing Data post.

Food for thought (pun intended!): what do you (or could you) visualize in your life?



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