Community Manager
16 Jun, 2020
Data and Me

Welcome to the Chelmsford Creatives blog! Each week we will be showcasing creative projects produced by local young people, sharing how we are keeping ourselves busy during social distancing or reflecting on past successes. 

By Pat Lok

We live in a data-driven world. As Covid-19 has demonstrated, our daily activities are advised by data. Slogans like “flatten the curve” have been a stark public health message to encourage the public to stay at home as much as possible in order to reduce the possibility of transmissions. Whilst data itself may seem monotonous and boring, presenting data holds lots of creative potential.

As a data enthusiast, I came across Dear Data while listening to a data science podcast. Dear Data is a project set up by two information designers, Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, where they collected and hand-drew their personal data and sent it to each other in the form of postcards for a year.

Inspired by this project, I conducted further research and found an online group where people look for data pen pals. I managed to match with a German data pen pal, and my data drawing journey began!

In the beginning, collecting data can be challenging – you don’t know how detailed the data should be and organising the data into meaningful charts is a tricky task that requires creative thinking.

Week 3 was about recording how much time you spent alone and it’s interesting to see how we both chose to present the data. The drawing on the left is my pen pal’s and the one on the right is mine (below).

When I got bored of using ink and pencils, I experimented with other mediums. In the week where we collected data on what we were reading, I decided to use pieces of magazines that I read and made a collage data infographic (below).

I gained a lot by participating in this project,it enables me to track and reflect on my activities, exercise my creativity, and improve my data literacy,

Although we are taught to produce and interpret graphs in schools, most people struggle to interpret data. Health literacy is a particular area of concern. A study in 2015 showed that 43% of 16 to 65-year-olds struggle with text-based health information; and 61% of 16 to 65-year-olds cannot understand health information that includes both text and numbers .

An inability to interpret data can lead to misunderstanding and mislead people’s decision making.

If you’re looking for a lockdown project, I highly recommend Dear Data.  Projects like this  exercise your brain (the left hemisphere is responsible for arts and creativity and the right hemisphere is responsible for cognitive processing), and offer a sense of community in times of social isolation.

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