As individuals, we are surrounded by data. Our phones, cards, wearables--nearly everything we interact with--is constantly collecting information about us. And yet, we rarely see this data in its complete form. While privacy conversations are changing our view on our own data almost daily, it is still incredibly difficult to track down the immense amount of information we contribute.
For this data art project, I used Fitbit data from a couple to compare sleep habits across a month of their relationship. I was particularly interested in exploring how the existing boundaries of our personal data inform our understanding of ourselves. Looking across their data shows a new perspective on their interactions -- while she sleeps at more frequent intervals, both get similar amounts of rest.
Here you can see that different device models and napping habits have led to mismatched dates and uncorrelated data fields between this pair.
I used simple charts to look more closely at the couple’s shared data attributes, their minutes awake and minutes asleep. While the person on the right sleeps at more frequent intervals, they also spend more time awake in bed.
And as a daily multi-modal commuter, I wanted to understand how the underlying costs of my transit everyday decisions. So I tracked my every move and documented the time and financial costs of my available options.
In visualizing the data, it became clear that my decision-making was only partially driven by money--and that there was opportunity for big financial losses or gains, depending on how well I planned ahead.
I wanted to understand the underlying opportunity cost of my actions and seek out the most cost effective and time efficient options for my everyday travel.
Along the way, I learned that we analyze data can change the way we understand and learn from it, and the simple act of reading data can be incredibly challenging. Working with time and date-based datasets in Python quickly taught me what an uphill battle it can be to translate data from mere numbers into beautiful, legible visuals. Wrangling spreadsheets is 99% of the work!