I remember reading a few years back that a geek was someone who would record his daily mood in for years on end. If so, Nicholas Felton is geek extraordinaire. He’s a well-known designer who, to quote him himself, “spends much of his time thinking about data, charts and our daily routines.” He doesn’t just think about them, though. Each year he releases a work of art based on his own past twelve-month. These personal annual reports “collate countless measurements into a rich assortment of graphs and maps reflecting the year’s activities.”
Sounds icky, I know. But fear not. I said it was a work of art and I meant it: performance art, installation art, the sort of art that is, dare one say, excreted in insignificant elements that, combined, amount to an interesting hill of beans. Certainly a collation that is attractively presented.
So have a look at the Feltron 2009 Annual Report. (The lovingly typeset and letterpressed print version is sold out, alas.) It’s presented in large jpegs that only capture the whiff of the notion, intriguing though that may be. And the notion itself? It all has to do with the assembly of data about N. Felton derived from questionnaires he distributed during his daily activities to the people he met. From the Feltron site:
Throughout 2009, friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances of Nicholas Felton were asked to report on his activities whenever they met. All data on the following pages was compiled from the responses of these participants to a variety of questions concerning their encounter.
Outsourcing geekness. Nifty idea.
The charts are lovely, the categories interesting or amusing, the idea . . . well, so long as there’s only one guy doing this . . . . charming.
But wait: there is more: not content to gather rosebuds (or brickbats) about himself, Felton runs Daytum, a site that offers you the chance to record your data, whatever it might be: softball scores, number of hotdogs eaten, times you checked your email, et cetera.
It may be that you have some data you want to track and with which you want to work subsequently. If so, take a look at Daytum. Doesn’t mean you’re a geek. You might be, oh I don’t know . . . a lawyer recording five-minute segments of billable hours, for example.
[Addendum: I've started gathering up selected Fillips from the past into PDF volumes. Those from 2006 are now available and other years will soon follow. You can find them under the Fun Stuff tab to the right.]