Dear Data, slow data postcards


Collecting and visualizing data means quantifying and representing the sense of enumeration. In the project “Dear Data” infodesigners Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec have created a collection of hand-drawn infographics on postcards, sent weekly to each other between New York and London. One postcard was sent every 7 days for 52 weeks, each representing a theme or repeated action in their respective everyday lives, starting with a rigorous, continuous and methodical data collection. The back of each card is dedicated to a legend and the instructions for how to read the (beautiful) pictures, colors and signs drawn on the front. The topics of the exchange are numerous: from offensive words spoken, to times when envy was felt, from sounds heard during the day to time spent consuming media. The ritual element of the format triggered both curiosity and loyalty in the participants, while the change in perspective offered new ways of conceptualizing everyday experiences. The postcards have a transformational quality – the thoughts they contain promote the generation of new questions about our surroundings and how we interpret them. When drawn out, a collection of structured data could overexpose the usefulness of counting, revealing unexpected actions, new habits, unperceived needs: by counting, the meanings behind our actions become more tangible and subsequently more useful for modulating the simple choices we are constantly making. This awareness can, however, generate another more disturbing observation: collecting this information is valuable for a deep understanding of our decisions. How could we collect it without a correspondent overseas? Who could be the recipient of our everyday confessions, now that everything is filtered by devices and online services that track our every click? Chiara Ciociola