Week 01: 
A week of clocks


The topic:
This was the first week of Dear Data – I was excited and a bit scared at the same time: would I be able to create something compelling? Will Stefanie like it? Yes, I was nervous.

This week was about clocks, and time, I noticed and reported all of the times I would check the time, which kind of device it was, why I was looking at it, and what I thought right after (if any).

Data gathering:
As the data collection began, I immediately realized that it is INSANE how many times we look at the clock, and how few of these times we do it on purpose (i.e. because we really need to know what time is it)!

I used a little analog notebook to document the data, but I also took a lot of print-screens of my iPhone and reported the time later (I texted Stef about it, we figured that would be admissible!)


  • I stopped wearing my analog wristwatch that I occasionally wear because it increased the number of occasions I would run into the time,
  • when in a hurry together with my boyfriend, I asked him not to tell me what time it was on several occasions, saying “just tell me if we’re fine” instead,
  • I was incredibly relieved at the end of the week!


Data drawing:
The data-drawing was – of course – challenging, since this was the first week. I changed my mind on the visual model dozens of times, and I wasted tons of postcards, but finally I agreed with myself in creating a sort of “alphabet” with my data, composing this Morse-Code week of time related data.

Oh – and I also figured it would be nice to assign the data that was somehow related to “Dear Data” and/or Stefanie a color and keep it consistent throughout the postcards, and there we go: the pink-ink Muji pen in my postcards will always indicate that from now on!

p.s. my first postcard never reached Stefanie. 3 weeks later I re-drew it and re-sent it, this time eventually it worked out!




The Process:



Originally Giorgia and I thought that we would try to gather data only by hand but this proved difficult. So we’ve changed the rules (already) and agreed we can use digital means for gathering data. I think this makes sense: the focus of the project is exploring the handmade representation of data, and the benefits/problems that a handmade approach poses. While I am a sucker for slightly masochistic and obsessive data-gathering techniques, I accept that automation and ease will give me more time to do other things, such as actually have a life.

I tracked when I checked the time, what type of clock I was looking at, and that’s it.

Data memories:
To neatly start the year-long project on the perfect starting day (Monday 1 September), the project started while I was holidaying in Greece. Because of this, my main memory from this week is checking the clock in a hire car at 4am as we drove to Athens to catch an early morning flight home. Ouch.

My favourite data point to track was when I was walking down the high-street in Totnes, hearing the church bell ring the time. Does it count as checking the time if the time is forced upon you? I’ve decided it does.

My first experience of a mild ‘data void’: I was at a wedding at the end of the week where we ended up in the sea after midnight, wandering through the dark. Drunk data-gathering is a challenge.

Data drawing:
Due to this being the first card, I probably over-thought the design because I didn’t want Giorgia to think my drawing was rubbish. I spent ages working on the card, all the while moaning to my husband that I was ‘shit at drawing’. His response: ‘Well, you’ll be better after a year, right?’

Having said that, I like how this drawing looks. But data-wise, it’s not very insightful: the data is difficult to read.

But this is something that I’m still undecided about: I’m not sure whether or not to use the data as a starting point for a drawing where the focus is on the aesthetic, or to have the story told with the data be the main focus of these cards. Perhaps it will depend on the data we use each week.

Giorgia’s card:
I finally received this after some problems with the posting, second time lucky! I was very pleased to finally see it waiting for me on my doormat when I unlocked the door.

I love the little geometric symbols, and how precise and perfect Giorgia’s drawing is. You can probably tell something about our personalities from how different our drawings look...


The Process:

 Found belatedly: my manual data-gathering from the first week

Found belatedly: my manual data-gathering from the first week

 Preliminary sketches

Preliminary sketches