Dear Data was a year-long, analog data drawing project by Stefanie Posavec and me.
We got to know each other through our data and analog data drawings sent across the ocean in the form of fifty-two hand-drawn data postcards.
Each week, for a year, we collected and measured a particular type of data about our lives, used this data to make a drawing on a postcard-sized sheet of card stock, and then dropped the postcard in an English “postbox” (Stefanie) or an American “mailbox” (Giorgia)!
Eventually, the postcard arrived at the other person’s address with all the scuff marks of its journey over the ocean: a type of “slow data” transmission.
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 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 that enabled the recipient to decipher the picture, and to imagine 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 human and to connect with ourselves and others at a deeper level.