Sunday Sketch: Data Visualization

For my data viz project, I chose to track how many times I spoke to my mother over the course of a few weeks. Before I go on, I just want to say that I love my mother with all of my heart, she is a wonderful woman, and an outstanding role model. I also know that she does want the best for me (no matter what I think in my head when I’m angry sometimes) and she is willing to push me until I realize my full potential. Reasons why I chose this project:

  1. My mom can be a little overbearing (she knows this)
  2. I’m pretty sure she has a serious case of FOMO, as she wants to know Every. Single. Detail. of my life. I say this jokingly (kinda).
  3. I was actually really curious how often I talk to my mom!

I decided on tracking how may cell phone calls, FaceTime calls, and text messages exchanged between my mother and me. As you can see in the graphs below, there is a lot of fluctuation within some of the days. April 16th, for example, was the day I got an exam grade back while April 18th was the day she had breast reconstructive surgery following her breast cancer diagnosis in June of 2017. On the average, I think we FaceTime at LEAST one a day, and average about 40 texts. Here are the graphs. (I included pictures as the background because my mom and I are kind of the same person. My dad says the apple didn’t fall far from the tree with us!)


Sketch 10: Food Satisfaction (Data Visualization)

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 8.27.38 PMThroughout the span of almost two weeks, I recorded my level of food satisfaction on a subjective scale of 0-100. This tracking assignment yielded some interesting results, which after developing a visual representation of the data, revealed key information about my eating habits throughout the week.

Firstly, a noticeable trend appears in the weekends, where my levels of food satisfaction increase dramatically compared to weekdays. This is because during the weekend, I tend to go out and eat with my friends or my girlfriend, in an attempt to escape the brutal grip of the duc-ling; its merciless grasp on my palate is accurately reflected by the low values presented during the week days, where values oscillate in the lower bound of the graph. Any strong outliers during the week day, such as the second Tuesday in my tracking assignment, are attributed to my ordering Uber Eats. As a general rule, if the value of food satisfaction exceeds 30 during a week day, it could be due to three factors: either I ate outside of Emory, went to Cox, or ordered food through Uber Eats.

Data Viz From Everyday Life- Sketch 10

Coming to college and being away from home I have made a conscious effort not to abandon healthy habits throughout my everyday life.  The five factors of this category I decided to track are how many of my 75mL camelbak water bottles I drink per day, if I eat breakfast, how many times I take the stairs up to my rooms instead of the elevator, how many hours of sleep I get, and how many miles I do on the treadmill that day at the gym.  As I was mapping out this data visually, it struck me how dependent these habits have to do with my schedule for that day. For example, some days I have time for the gym while others it is impossible to fit it in between classes and homework. I know that I had a large chemistry exam on April 11th at night so knew the gym would not fit in that day.  In addition, It seems as though the days I miss breakfast, the most important meal of the day, falls on Tuesdays or Thursdays. These days of the week I have an 8:30am class that I am usually rushing to. Significantly less hours of sleep took place the nights before the two exams I had during the two week time period I tracked. Finally, more hours of sleep take place over the weekend because I am able to sleep in later instead of waking up for my morning classes.  

A flaw within my data is that there is no basis I could compare it to.  When I tracked how many times I took the stairs up to my room on the fourth floor of my dorm, I did not track how many times I took the elevator up.  Days that I only took the stairs four times could just be because I only went up to my room four times that day. It does not necessarily mean I took the elevator much more those days.  I am in class from 10a.m. to 5 p.m. on mondays so do not go back to my room till late in the afternoon. It is inevitable for me to take the stairs less these days.

Since I was tracking data that took place so frequently throughout the day, there were definitely times where I had to estimate different factors.  I know there are times where I quickly went downstairs in my dorm to print something and did not have my phone with me to track the stairs I took back up.  In general, however, I hope I got a good estimate of the healthy habits I have put into my everyday life here at Emory. Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 8.03.43 PM

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Sketch 10 Reflection

This particular assignment was unique because it involved a long process with data collection.  I was tracking to see my overall emotional health through this assignment where I posed four different factors: productivity, happiness, positivity, and confidence.  These, I believe, are salient in determining a spectrum of emotional health.  Though more categories can certainly be added, these seemed to be solid universal determinants.  I scaled them based on what degree I felt at the current time (12 PM and 6 PM everyday for a week).  The lower end of the spectrum was towards one, while the opposite was ten.  In  essence, I was trying to determine if these factors are related  to my overall mental state; rather than one question, it was a an exploration to narrow down a correlation.

Though I cannot definitively state causes, there does seem to be some evidence to assert an adequate correlation.  One is that the “happier” I was, generally the more positive and confident I was.  About half the time, when I was productive, i was surprisingly happier.  Another important illustration in the data was that I tended to be happier and less productive on the weekends.  I do, however, feel uncomfortable jumping to a precise conclusion because my measurements were obviously very subjective.  For instance, an 8 happiness one day could be completely different than an 8 another day.

I chose to visualize the data in two ways.  The first is a bar chart that blatantly shows the data and neatly sorts the information by color.  I felt that this would be the easiest way to interpret it.  Next, I put the data into a line graph.  The line graph shows information over a period of time.  This was appropriate for the information that was taken at two times over a week.  If I were to continue this project, I would replicate my process. This is assuming that i begin to get a better grasp on how to adequately use the subjective measurements and create a proper, consistent standard.

This certainly was a valuable tool for self analysis. Often times, and proven true in this case, it is easier to conceptualize information when the data is visualized.  Also, keeping track of these measurements allows for a deep degree of introspection that one may generally ignore.

Data Visualization from Everyday Life

Research Question: Am I Just A Really Profane Cartoon Character?

Conclusion: I mean probably yes.

As I was thinking about what data in my life I could track my friend pointed out that there are jokes that I re-use so often that I could probably track them and end up with a pretty well populated data set. She was kidding, but I did it anyways.

Screenshot (4).pngJust saying the word “ma’am” in response to anything that aggravates me, might not be a joke exactly. But it makes me laugh and I say it lot so I included it. Alongside that are the phrases “nut” and “that’s what my lower back tattoo says” (as I’m trying to explain these jokes I realize that my sense of humor might be a little off-the-wall) Sometimes I respond to things that people say with “that’s what my lower back tattoo says.” ie: My friend was talking about something and said the phrase “You don’t have to be perfect” and my response was “that’s what my lower back tattoo says”.  “Nut” is just an oddly sexual and super inappropriate way to respond to anything that I think is cool. Another friend of mine told me that she was going to a lecture about traditional African art and the movie Black Panther and my response was “nut, dude”.

What I saw in this visualization wasn’t really what I expected to see. I was kind of hoping patterns would emerge based on which phrase I used more on each day and it would be like a general picture of my mood on each of these days. Mostly what I realized was that there was a pretty sharp decrease in the frequency of all three phrases on days that I was especially down or stressed. These days I noticed that I spoke less in general and made fewer jokes. I hadn’t realized that I tended to be quieter when I was in these moods, so that was interesting to see visualized.

Data Visualization

For my project, I chose to track my stress levels over the course of a few weeks. Since stress is such an intangible things, I was curious how stress manifests itself in my day-to-day life. To quantify that I decided to assess my stress levels through four different measurements: anxiety level, number of hours slept, time listened to music and number of pages read. I tracked these four measurements for two weeks, during which I had tests, homework, papers, social events and events for extracurricular clubs. Looking back on these two weeks, they are fairly representative of most of my college life so far, in terms of stress.

I set out to find out how stress shows itself in my everyday life and I believe I got the answer, at least in some ways, that I expected. Of course I couldn’t track every aspect of my life for two weeks so narrowing down on things I do consistently daily was important. I was conflicted as to what to include – there are many things I do every day – but landed on a few daily activities that measure both leisure time and work time, physical things and psychological things. I chose anxiety as my first indicator because it is almost directly linked with stress and I’ve had a complicated history with anxiety before, so I’ve had practice tracking it. I chose hours of sleep because, through my tracking of anxiety, I found that my sleep is directly effected by the amount of stress I am undergoing. I measured the number of hours I listened to music because I generally listen to music everywhere I go, whenever I can, so I figured, since I generally can’t listen to music when working or studying, I could track the amount of stress I was experiencing by paying attention to how much music I listened to every day, the less music listened to, the more stress I was undergoing. Lastly I chose to measure the amount of pages I read each day. I chose this measurement because a lot of my stress is related to work I do on a daily basis. A lot of that work comes in the form of reading, so I figured that depending on how much reading I did that day, I could track the amount of work I had and therefore stress I was.

Tracking wasn’t hard, I was able to remember to track and log all the measurements I set out to track. I thought a while about what the best way to visualize all the data was. After trying a few of the programs suggested by Professor Morgen, I decided to use the free-website Infogram, which was very easy to use.

The conclusions I drew from the resulting data was at first a little shocking. I surprised myself with how little I sleep sometimes, how many hours I spend with headphones on and with the amount of pages I read a day (it always feels like more…). However, once I thought about the results a little harder, I realized that I really was not that surprised after all; I had been living the numbers for almost a year and seeing them on a screen, while initially startling, started to make sense. I found myself saying “that seems about right…”. I guess that’s a pretty unsatisfying conclusion, but it makes sense to me. If I were to continue this project further I think I would change a couple measurements. I think instead of looking at the level of anxiety I experience and the number of pages I read, I would choose to track the number of times I complained about something in a day and the amount of words written (either by hand or digitally). I think those two combined with the other two measurements I kept would make for a much more interesting and telling statistic.

You can access the Infogram here.

Sketch 10: Unproductiveness


We all want to be super productive people. But tracking it may be scary.
I decided, with this sketch, that I wanted to see just how unproductive I was. But there were a few issues with this idea that we MUST talk about before diving into the data.
1. It’s almost finals week. That means that much of the week will HAVE to be spent being productive, giving this a slight edge to the productiveness of my life. This type of test would be most fair in the middle of the semester, where midterms are present. This way, you would actually have to be productive but not for as long of a period as for studying in finals.
2. I’m not always studying any time I’m not doing any of the things I tracked. I could be walking to class or having a stack or something that is tiny. But I can’t track each waking minute, so I have to generalize.
3. I could also be watching a YouTube video for only 5 minutes, but it’s hard to count those because it’s such a minuscule time. These small times could add up, and I may miss up to 30-40 minutes simply because I don’t count all the little 1 minute segments of watching something or the glances at Twitch streams.
Now, with that out of the way, it’s time to dive into the conclusion. It’s pretty clear that I’m a lot more unproductive on the weekends, simply because that is what I typically consider my “break time.” But I was surprisingly productive on the weekdays. Even when I took out my dinner and lunch time, along with my class time, I’m still looking pretty decent, with the exception of a few days.
I was actually able to overall answer my question. I was pleasantly surprised at the results, for I thought the situation was going to be a lot worse than what it actually was. I chose to see the data in the form of pie charts and bar graphs because it was mostly categorical, with the exception of the bottom graph over the course of several dates. However, I believe that, because each day was independent of the other, I would act as if each date was a category.
I’d say that this project told me that I’m actually a lot more productive than I lead myself to believe. This is both encouraging and dangerous, because it means I may have more leeway with myself being unproductive because of some excuse involving “but I work so hard.” I’d continue to do this the same fashion if I were to continue this, and I really liked this project (to a certain extent; sometimes it was an inconvenience).


Data Visualization from Everyday Life



Social media has been studied to see if it has any impact on mental health. Numerous studies have shown that excess use of social media can negatively impact your daily life. I am a pretty emotional person and tend to cry in situations of stress. I was curious to see if my social media consumption impacted my emotions. I tracked the amount of times I checked Facebook for 10 days along with the amount of times I cried. I tracked it by keeping a Google Keep file where I wrote down each time either occurred (screenshot from note is the Featured Image). I then graphed the two against each other.

My results showed that the amount of times I cried were sometimes correlated to the amount of times I checked Facebook. But, I remember from my high school statistics class that “correlation does not imply causation” meaning the amount of times I cried may not have been a result of my social media usage. In addition, the first day I checked Facebook significantly more than the others. I think I got embarrassed that I logged in so many times that first day that I tried to limit myself the days following. I also had multiple assignments due that day so, in turn, I was stressed and emotional. I think this information is interesting to see and I will definitely try to limit my social media usage so that it is not as crazy as that first day.

Sketch 10: Data Visualization from Everyday Life

Due: 4/22

Tag: sk10

When Mason Currey wanted to understand how he could manage to produce more creative work despite the challenges of everyday life, he set about studying how a bunch of other famous creative people organized their daily lives and what routines they established for their own creative work with the assumption that there were valuable lessons there. Daily Rituals was the result of that research — and then a number of different people and organizations have set out to visualize the insights of that book so that we can see larger patterns in the midst of all this biographical information. Podio’s graphic, which is the feature image on this post, is one of those (check out their site for the interactive version)

For this sketch assignment, you will choose one concept in your life that you want to analyze, something that is not already easily and obviously measured, or doesn’t vary within the span of a day or a week (good categories: awesomeness, mindfulness, healthiness, creativity, productivity, and similar … bad categories: number of steps, hours of sleep, caloric intake, how good is my eyesight?). Decide on a set of about 5 categories that you can use to measure that concept in your life and track those categories for a week or more, then you will produce a visualization of the data that you have gathered and use that visualization to help you understand something about your own life that might not be obvious from your own day to day activities.

Tracking Data

If you’re looking for suggestions about what to track, browsing the “quantified self” tag at Lifehacker might be worthwhile.

Once you’ve got categories, create a spreadsheet where you can track those categories throughout the day. Either take notes in a journal or on your phone and enter the results into your spreadsheet at set intervals, or make the spreadsheet in Google Drive and access it from your phone, or use the site Trackthisforme, or install a tracker app on your mobile device (I found some by searching for “quantified self” apps).

In “How to Track Everything in Your Life Without Going Crazy” and “Fill Out This One-Minute Form Every Day and Find Out Why Your Life Sucks (or Doesn’t)” Adam Dachiss has some useful suggestions for measuring stuff in your life. “Why You Should be Tracking Your Habits and How to Do It” by Belle Beth Cooper is also useful. However, all three of those articles are a few years old now and might not be perfectly applicable.

Whatever method you use, the key activity is to decide what you are going to pay attention to and then to create a system that is manageable for your life for the span of a week wherein you will quantify information about your self or your behavior.

For example, one step of this process might be to decide to measure how happy you are and to create a spreadsheet with a column for “Happy.” Then when you wake up in the morning, while you’re waiting for the coffee to brew, you’ll pull up the spreadsheet and enter a number between 1 and 10 indicating how happy you feel. You will continue adding rows at some set interval (every hour maybe). You will probably have some columns that are a little less subjective than “how happy do I feel right now?” (like “how many times did I talk in class today?” or “how much time did I spend studying?” “how many minutes have I spent looking at my phone in the last hour?”). You can decide how objective or subjective your categories are, but recognize that those decisions will impact the sorts of conclusions you draw from this process.

For now, you just need to decide what you will track and then to be as meticulous and careful as you can be about actually tracking this information either directly into a spreadsheet or in a format that can easily be transferred into a spreadsheet at the end of the week.

I will follow up with more information about visualizing that data once you’ve collected it, but don’t worry too much about that yet. Just collect data and pay attention to any patterns you notice while you do so.

Visualizing that data

Now that you have gathered your data, it’s time to analyze it further and visualize it.

With the data set that you’ve gathered, which is just for a week or so and only with a handful of variables, you probably won’t need a computer or special tools to analyze it. However, you might find loading your data into a spreadsheet (like in Excel) if you haven’t already been keeping it in that format will help you a lot to analyze it and see patterns in the data.

Because this is an assignment about collecting data about your own life, there is room for you to decide how “scientific” you want to be with your project. Even if you have never used spreadsheets for much of anything, try to quantify your data as much as you can and make an effort to be detailed and accurate with your information, but that said the types of data you chose to collect and the category you’ve decided to study will have a huge impact on the type of analysis you undertake. It is okay for you to have some more subjective categories and it’s okay if your final analysis or visualization is somewhat subjective too.


There are numerous methods you can use to create your visualization — anything from paper and crayons/markers/pencils to sophisticated data visualization software like Tableau. MS Excel also has some pretty sophisticated charts that you can create from your data. And there are also lots of free online tools that you can use too — it’s admittedly been a year or more since I really surveyed the set of free tools available, but I’d probably still recommend Infogram if you want a free web-based infographic maker and aren’t sure where to start.

For help deciding what type of chart or graph might be most effective in visualizing your data, consult the Data Viz Catalogue (it might be most helpful for you to switch to the “sort by functions” view at the top of the page).

Digital Images

Hand-drawn charts and graphs are perfectly 100% acceptable, if that’s what you prefer. However, please do not spend lots of time carefully crafting hand-drawn charts and then snap a crappy picture of them on your cell phone to post to the web. There are lots of scanners available on campus that you can use to scan your chart into a high-quality JPG image — I’d suggest that you take a quick trip to the Media Lab on the 4th floor of the library and scan your drawings. That space is underutilized and an excellent resource that you should know about.

If you create your visualizations with an online tool, just make sure that you can export them as a JPG image, or that you can at least take a good screenshot of your work.


Publish your charts as a sketch post to your site. Identify what conceptual issue you were tracking or what question you wanted to answer (or begin to answer). Include 2 or 3 paragraphs explaining what conclusions you have drawn from the data that you collected. Were you able to answer the question you had posed for yourself? What sorts of judgement calls did you face while gathering the data? Why did you choose to visualize your data in the manner that you did? What do these visualizations say about your own life? If you were to continue this project into the future, would you go about it in pretty much the way you have done this week or would you do things differently now that you have looked at the data to this point? Have you found this to be a valuable tool for self analysis?

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