Dear Data is a year-long, analog data drawing project by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec. We are two award winning information designers living on different sides of the Atlantic. By collecting and hand drawing our personal data and sending it to each other in form of postcards, we became friends, and connected to ourselves at a deeper level.

Each week since September 1st 2014, and for a year, weI would collect our personal data around a shared topic: from the many time we complained in the week to the moments we chuckled, from our obsessions and habits as they showed up to the interactions with our friends and partners.

At the end of the week we would take the time to analyze our information and hand-draw our data on a postcard-sized sheet of paper, creating analog data correspondences we would send to each other across the Atlantic.

It has been a type of slow, small and incredibly analog data transmission, where through 52 pretexts in form of data, we revealed a particular aspect of ourselves and of our lives to the other person every week. We spent a year collecting our data manually instead of relying on a self-tracking digital app, adding contextual details to our logs and thus making them truly personal, about us and us only.

Over the fifty-two weeks, the collecting of data about our lives became a kind of ritual. We would spend the week noticing and noting down our activities or thoughts, before translating this information into a hand-drawn visualization.

On the front of the postcard there would be a unique representation of our weekly data, and, on the other side (in addition to the necessary postage and address), we would squeeze in detailed keys to our drawings: the code to enable the recipient to decipher the picture, and to fantasize about what had happened to her new friend the week before.

We prefer to approach data in a slower, more analogue way. We’ve always conceived Dear Data as a “personal documentary” rather than a quantified-self project which is a subtle – but important – distinction. Instead of using data just to become more efficient, we argue we can use data to become more humane and to connect with ourselves and others at a deeper level.
As the weeks moved on we shared everything about ourselves through the excuse of our data: our envies, our positive sensations of different king, the sounds of our surroundings, our private moments or our eating habits: we truly became friends through this manual and analog data transmission. In fact, removing technology from the equation triggered us to find different ways to look at data: as excuses to tell something about ourselves, expanding beyond any singular log, adding depth and personality to quantitative bits of information. 

In a moment when self-tracking apps are proliferating, and when the amount of personal data we can collect about ourselves is increasing over time, we should actively add personal and contextual meaning to our tracking. We shouldn’t expect an app to tell us something about ourselves without any active effort by us, we really have to engage in sense making of our own data, to interpret those numbers according to our personal story, behaviors and routine. In general, only by spending time with any type of data we can unlock its profound nature and shade a light on its real meaning.


After lots of pencil-sharpening and scribbling-outs, we are now pleased to announce that Dear Data turned into a book. It is a 300-page, large-format flexibound book. Besides presenting our fifty-two postcards, we’ve also included newly-drawn illustrations unfolding what we've learned about our lives in data, highlighting how everyone can become a data collector.

In a world where computers and algorithms are the default go-tos, this carefully-crafted book highlights how we’ve explored this weekly imperfect, offline approach to uncovering the warm heart at the centre of our everyday data. As Maria Popova wrote in her touching foreword (US edition),
"the book reclaims that poetic granularity of the individual from the homogenizing aggregate-grip of Big Data."

We hope Dear Data inspires you to slow down, take stock, and draw – to see the world  through a new lens, where everything and anything can be a creative starting point for play,  expression and connection.

Find us in bookshops in the US (Princeton Architectural Press) and UK (Penguin Random House UK) on September 1st, 2016.
www.dear-data.com
Dear Data
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Published:

Dear Data

Dear Data is a year-long, analog data drawing project by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, two award-winning information designers living on dif Read More
590
5,212
12
Published:

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