Week 40: 
A week of meeting new people


And then we met again at EYEO!
As June 1st came, Stefanie and I met for the fourth time in our lives at the amazing festival in Minneapolis that brought us together in the first place: Eyeo!
We couldn’t be more excited: we met here 2 years ago for the first time, and when we then got together here last year for the second time it was when we decided to collaborate and to start Dear Data.
What’s best to celebrate our third time here than opening the festival with a duo-keynote talk about Dear Data? Lucky us!!

(** subtle invite to watch our talk goes here **)

We knew it was going to be a very special week, full of socializing and meeting new awesome people.
So we of course decided that the topic of the week should be “new people we met!”.

Before the end of our talk, which happened on Monday on the first night of the conference, we openly stated our theme for the week, thus publicly inviting the attendees to stop us and say hi, helping us in this nice data-competition towards meeting the more people possible.

Even if (to my great pleasure and happiness!) Stefanie and I spend the greater part of our time together during the week, we didn’t tell each other what exactly we were tracking.
It has been a sort of surreal ongoing performance: we would meet people together - take out our phones - spend the required time recording our encounters - put our devices down and go back to the actual new conversation, often glancing at each other and grinning.

“We want to be a data point!” many folks introduced them with, I loved it!


Setting the rules to survive:
After a little while, we decided that:
- taking pictures of people badges to remember who they were was admissible;
- after 4 drinks we were allowed to stop tracking for the evening (because you know, free drinks...).

Hello Eyeo!
I tracked all the new people I met, not including the many pals I was already friend / acquaintance with, and the many friends of mine who were there from New York, of course.
But I counted the folks I haven’t been seeing for more than a year, honoring our sort of reunion as a novel meeting.
I recorded who introduced us (themselves, a third person, or myself), their basic demographics, if I met them with Stefanie, if they congratulated about our Dear Data talk or not (look how many!!), and the kind of conversation we had: was it just an intro or an actual chat?

Oh, of course I added a little note if I were tipsy.

Love you Eyeo!
The Eyeo festival has been the highlight for the year since the first time I spoke there. As I love to describe it, it is not just a conference or a festival: it is a summer camp, the kind of ones you have a hard time leaving at the end!

This Eyeo was even more special, I was with Stefanie.
We attended talks together, grabbed lunch together, had dinners and drinks together and with other old and new friends, and talked about any kind of topics, usually starting from hints we got through our data correspondence.

After 40 weeks of Dear Data, I definitely felt very close to her, and I was sincerely sad when we went our separate ways at the end of the conference.

By the way, at Eyeo this year we also swapped our postcards to have our originals back with us for a while, and signed a contract with our current agent for making a book our of Dear Data.

Stay tuned! :) 



The Process: 


I anticipated this week for ages, as Giorgia and I met up with each other in Minneapolis at the same arts festival (Eyeo) where we originally met! This was the second time we’ve met in person since we started the project and it felt great to disembark from my plane, travel to my hotel and then directly meet Giorgia and her boyfriend for dinner and a beer.

We were excited to be in Minneapolis for two reasons: firstly, we were going to be opening the festival by publicly speaking about Dear Data for the first time together, and secondly, because we both received delivery of some precious cargo that the other carried with us to Minneapolis: we did a swap of our postcards, and it was so great to say hello to my postcards to Giorgia after not seeing them for so long, and interesting to see how their journey to New York left its mark on them.

We both decided that since we would be meeting so many people this week it would be nice to gather data on the people we met, both new and old.

However, we may have made things slightly difficult for ourselves in regards to this data-gathering task when, at the end of the talk, we told the entire festival population that we were tracking people we met, and invited them to come and say hello to us. The entire festival audience was in attendance, so over 500 people, and it was literally five minutes after we finished our talk that we realised what we had done when tons of people came up to us and started introducing themselves as we furiously tried to gather all of the data!

Hmm… perhaps we should have gathered data secretly and only told people afterwards,it’s quite difficult it is to gather data on every single person who comes up to speak to you, as to both input data and have a meaningful conversation at the same time is pretty tricky…especially if many people are introducing themselves to you at once, and especially, especially if you are also drinking at the same time. Giorgia and I looked at each other with a panicked look in our eyes: how would we ever manage this week of data-tracking?

The first evening of the week we had to quickly lay down some ground rules, of which the main one was after four drinks, we could stop tracking and just enjoy the evening. I ended up jettisoning some of my complex data-gathering because it was just too difficult to gather so much data during each introduction to another person.

By day two we noticed that our behaviour was changing, and sometimes we would run through crowds quickly so we wouldn’t have to gather any more data about anyone else.

But of course, while it was a challenging week of data-gathering, I’m pleased that we asked people to come and say hello, and here’s why: to be honest, I have never been the type of person who would walk up to someone they didn’t know at an event; I’m pretty shy and lack the confidence to do this. It seem strange but I would rather speak in front of a crowd of people as opposed to approach someone individually, and this is why I like public speaking: it means that after you give your talk, people will approach you so you don’t have to muster up the courage to approach them. Clever, right? So thanks for saying hi, Eyeo: I’m happy you did, as it made my week in Minneapolis such a great one.

And who else made this a great week? Giorgia! It was nice to spend time together in person, seeing in real life the different aspects of her personality that she outlined in her postcards over so many weeks...there are many similarities between us, and I was so sad to leave Minneapolis and was already planning my next trip to visit in New York.

Now, I didn’t only track new people I met but also wanted to track reunions as well, mainly because I travelled to Indiana to visit my family directly after the festival. I wanted to have a record of seeing my mom for the first time in ages (hi Mom! I know you’ll read this), and hugging my grandma, my aunts, my uncles, my cousin after a year. Oh, dear: I think this might be another one of those datasets that makes me a little emotional every time I think of it, but I think data derived from aspects of the collective human experience tend to do that.

I drew this card as best I could to do justice to all of the lovely people who helped us gather data through coming to speak to us, drawing and re-drawing until I thought it was perfect. Old friends, new friends, and family: you’re all on on here, and I was so pleased to meet and re-meet you.



The Process: