Hidden Personal Data and the Passionate Stories Within

Lately I’ve been collecting and publishing data about myself from disparate places. For instance, the CTA allows you to download the last 90 days of your travel history– here’s a block of mine. I’m working on collecting the last 5 years of every item each of my children has purchased for lunch at school. By “working on”, I mean “using a dropdown menu to display each month’s work of records and copy-pasting them into a Google spreadsheet”. Here’s a shot of this screen, so you can see how well-formatted it is:

Illinois Tollway Use Dat

Here’s a pretty good one: if you have an I-Pass, one of those transponders that automatically charges your bank account for tolls on the Illinois toll system, you can log in to your I-PASS account and be delivered a list of the last two years worth of tolls you’ve paid. Here’s mine:

Some possible points of narrative:

  • Each day represents parenting to me. My children live with their mother in the western suburbs, and basically every one of these trips is me going out there to parent them
  • Two first days of school are visible in there, including August 22 of this year, when I passed through the toll near O’Hare at 6:34 AM their home at
  • You can tell whether I start the journey from home or downtown
  • You can get a rough indication of traffic volume based on how long it took me to get from one tollbooth to another
  • You can see a basic rhythm of my life in this data

Data wants to be connected.

One Reply to “Hidden Personal Data and the Passionate Stories Within”

  1. I’ve about 5 years of spending data to see which categories change e.g. spend more on fuel and rent now versus five years ago but less on public transport, and about the same on newspapers

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