Dear Data

Two information designers sending weekly hand-drawn data visualizations from their lives across the Atlantic

After meeting at a conference, Georgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec devised a data-driven experiment to get to know each other across the Atlantic. They chose a joint theme, like their workspace or negative thoughts, collected data on this topic throughout their daily routines, and visualized it on a postcard. The back was reserved for a legend, detailing how the often elaborate and playful drawings in front could be deciphered. Experimenting with different collection methods, they settled on recording the information manually on their phones, as automatized data collection through an app felt like a loss of control, and then used different analog techniques to visualize it on the postcards.

The two information designers, Georgia Lupi living in New York, and Stefanie Posavec living in London, follow their individual, very successful data-driven design practices. Dear Data has become a classic piece in the world of data visualization, winning numerous prizes and having been exhibited around the world. The original postcards and sketchbooks are now part of the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection in New York. The designers also work on making their analog visualization approach available to all data enthusiasts, providing educational materials and starting a group to connect data pen-pals.

The fascination of Dear Data does not only lie in showcasing 104 experimental ways of representing data, but in powerfully demonstrating how numbers can be used poetically and creatively to tell very personal stories. Instead of setting goals to become efficient or improve performance which often characterizes quantified-self projects, Lupi and Posavec show that data collection can become an individual, explorative practice of noticing and potentially a way of forming deep personal connections.

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