Creativity and data

In Nightingale, the journal of the Data Visualization Society, Victor Muñoz discusses applying my post on the four stage creative process to his data physicalization project. I really appreciated Victor’s post, which was a demonstration in how widely creativity is applied. (Other parts I liked: The journey involves Figma, a daily creative operation, and is partially set in Istanbul.) 

One particular passage stood out to me, when Victor reports experiencing self-consciousness:

In all my adult life (even when I was a kid), going to a park and collecting leaves never crossed my mind. I am too shy to do that. I was afraid of what people might think of me, but please notice I couldn’t understand what others were saying about me because I don’t speak Turkish. Then, I realized that sometimes, we limit our creativity based on what others say about us. It was also amusing to see how my fears changed when I realized that I couldn’t understand the language spoken around me.

This was incredibly interesting, and feels like a universal experience. While I wouldn’t mind picking up leaves (and have done so with classmates in the past), I’ve felt the fear that Victor describes in many other very ordinary moments and settings. There are some things that are worth remembering:

  • What others say about us, what others think about us, and we think that others think about us are all very different things. Remember, you probably don’t actually know what others are saying about you; you’re guessing. 
  • Whatever a stranger says about you, there’s a good chance that they’ll forget about it within a day or two.
  • More often than not, the things that people say about you turn out to be less actually about you, and more a reflection of them—their interpretation, their mood, their past traumas, etc. 
  • If you’re not at risk of hurting anyone in some way (including yourself) or breaking the law, then it’s worth trying.
  • Once you do something like this, you take the first step into a gateway that opens up the rest of your world. You can do a lot more than you think, if you want. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you always have to though. 

Victor picks the leaves, and makes a beautiful physical heatmap. He writes:

I also remember one of the goals of this project was to connect with your inner child. I decided to take this project as an opportunity to “leave” my comfort zone. I couldn’t remember the last time I did it, and these are the experiences we will never forget.

Read Victor’s full post here.

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