How Was Your Year
As we approached the UN Global Pulse data, we quickly realized that the traditional tools and conventions (graphs, charts, complex data mining), weren't going to work. The uniqueness of the data lies in its rejection of quantitative methods of analysis. Though it is possible and useful to cull the data as a set for frequently occurring words and to compare responses across countries, the material that is really rich is purely qualitative, narrative, and self-contained -- the story of a life in a single text message can resonate independently from the rest of the data.
In this visualization, we tried to create a platform for experiencing and interacting with the data both as a mass volume of multi-faceted responses, and on the scale of an individual story. We found the existing material to be very moving, as well as a fascinating snapshot of a year lived during the global economic crisis -- a data set whose value would only increase with additional submissions. Reopening the UN Global Pulse survey allows for the data to be accessible through the reciprocation of information; unlike other datasets that are compiled and reviewed by scientists, then entombed in a spreadsheet, it is easy to imagine contributing your own perspective to this living, continuous record of the past year.
Viewers are invited to not only participate, take with them (via text message), and share responses they find interesting. In the spirit of the original survey we are working to offer a json API to make all the collected data (both UN and subsequent entries) more accessible.