Year: 2016

Celebrating friendships

After all the effort of building a dataset for The Reliants Project, it’s been great the reap the rewards with countless ways to explore and visualise the data. I’ve decided to focus first on the reliants, my closest relationships. To give readers a sense of the breadth of the group categorised as reliants, here are some reference points. They include family members I’ve known since birth, others I’ve built relationships with spanning 25+ years, as well as people I’ve gotten to know within the last year. I met an equal number through direct introductions and public events and there are even two that I met serendipitously. They are overwhelmingly male, but very diverse in terms of nationality and ethnicity. Their ages span from mid-twenties to retired, though the majority are 25-45. Almost all of them have moved internationally and have lived in the same city as me at some point, though there are a couple of exceptions. Roughly half of them are married and/or have children, however few had reached this life stage when I met them. Beyond family (2 people), two pairs have …

Change over time

If you’ve met me, you’ve probably heard me say “change is the only constant” more than a few times. It’s been incredible to reflect on how much my personal network has evolved since university. After 12 months of The Reliants Project focused on my new London network, I decided to shift focus to 3 areas inspired by that exploratory research: Building a more complex visual of my entire personal network in the hopes that it will give me a more accurate representation of change in my network over time Visualising how new connections transition between the categories of stranger, acquaintance, friend and reliant (and even loosing touch) over time Identifying how significant life events (e.g. moving, marriage, parenthood, divorce, career shifts) impact connections’ positions within the network While I gathered data over the last 15 years, it was hard to reach back beyond 2004 (introduction of Gmail) with much accuracy. Nonetheless, this data captures 2 international moves (Massachusetts to Hong Kong in 2008, Hong Kong to London in 2015), my divorce (2010), and 4 career shifts. The first time series visual I created based on that data is below (click to enlarge).  If …

The Reliants Project: 12 months

Can hardly believe it has been over a year since I moved to London! As an anniversary present, London gifted me my first truly serendipitous connection since my arrival. Until then, every new connection was the result of either a direct introduction or meeting at an event that both people intentionally attended. It’s a rare treat to meet anyone during those in between states; by accident, in public places, on transit. I treasure those moments because they often expose a ‘small world’ coincidence or a completely new, fascinating world. Additionally, I had the chance to participate in Wait But Why’s inaugural Wait But Hi event in August. Our group was even featured in their report (scroll down about 1/5th to “Some people went to restaurants…”). They asked their readers to fill out a (long) survey and then matched them in groups based on their interests and preferences. Some people were set up on individual blind dates while others participated in large group educational seminars (and many variations between). What a fascinating experiment in friendship, relationship and community building! Round up. Here are some of …

Graphics tell stories

Way back when, I explained in general how I use visualisations for personal storytelling. Finally, I have a specific test case that I can share. At the end of August, a very trusting friend agreed to join me for a 95km trail run along Hadrian’s Wall path. It’s considered the best-preserved frontier of the Roman Empire and covers a beautiful stretch of land from coast to coast in North England, just south of the Scottish border. In case you’re curious, we used Contours to organise the trip and they happily took care of booking rooms, recommending daily distances and luggage transfer. I’d highly recommend them! Here’s what I did before, during and after the experience along with the resulting visual. Before: What information do you think you want to capture? What are the best / most convenient tools to capture that data? In this case, I could easily collect the quantitative data I was interested in using Strava. This app can capture distance, time, pace, elevation change among other useful metrics. As an added bonus, …

Intensive UK course

It’s been almost 24 hours since I returned home from the 3 Peaks Challenge. While I’m still processing the experience, there is one concept that became a recurring theme throughout the journey. In the Art of Possibility, Zander says “You can always grace yourself with responsibility for anything that happens in your life. You can always find within yourself the source of any problem you have.” It’s not about taking more than your fair share of responsibility for any given situation, but understanding in what ways you contributed to it. Of the many lessons the experience taught me, it certainly helped me to internalise that concept. To quickly provide some background, the national “3 Peaks Challenge” involves summiting 3 specific UK peaks within the span of 24 hours. The 3 peaks involved are Ben Nevis in Scotland (1345m), Scafell Pike in England (978m), and Snowdon in Wales (1085m). The total vertical climb is about 3000m and the hiking distance is 42km, or roughly the length of a marathon. You can do it independently during any 24 hour period, but it’s popular to attempt the challenge …

Nesting

So, it turns out that I had quite a few things in that Hong Kong flat mentioned in my previous post. Not only that, but I had a fair number of items in my mother’s storage unit back in the States. Thankfully the London flat absorbed the majority of the stuff that arrived in April without issue. I won’t bore anyone with another itemised list, but safe to say I have more sets of dishes than any one person could possibly need. However, it’s wonderful to have everything under one roof and I’m slowly but surely editing. If I had to describe the design theme emerging in my new home, it would be “industrial repurposed”. There are a wealth of clearing houses, restaurant supply stores, second hand shops and other treasure troves filled with used industrial equipment and furnishings, all at reasonable prices. I’ve added many of them to my Local London map. Constraints breed creativity, and it’s been so much fun figuring out what I can make out of my finds. Hard to believe that none …

The Reliants Project: 9 months

Before we dig in to the last 3 months of findings, it’s about time for another round-up of articles and blog posts related to adult friendship that have popped up over the last six months (see last round-up here): Get Over the Stigma That Something’s Wrong With You Because You Want More Friends from Lifehacker Half of Your Friends Probably Don’t Think of You As a Friend from NY Magazine Most people aren’t resilient to life’s hardships, researchers find from Quartz The Science of Making Friends from the Wall Street Journal (paywall) Study shows people have an upper limit on the number of friends they can add to their social network from Phys.org Why Smart People are Better Off with Fewer Friends from the Washington Post Perhaps it’s priming bias, but it feels like this collective conversation has picked up steam over the last year. It also seems as though these conversations share many parallels with the “Future of Work” and “global nomad” macro trends. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Esko Kilpi, who is a leading researcher in this emerging …

24 hours

Inspired by Benjamin Hardy’s recent blog post, I decided to picture my ideal day so that I can use it as a consistent, visual reminder of my priorities. A few of his probing questions caught my attention: If you repeated today every day for the next year, realistically, where would you end up? One of the best ways to consciously design your ideal life is to start with your ideal day. What does that actually look like? How often do you live your ideal day? With those ideas in mind, taking into consideration basic constraints around work, this is the current design for my ideal day: Activity type. While the activity types in the diagram don’t directly correlate to the dimensions I use in my  annual reflection, there are parallels. All of the active, reflective, and restorative habits fall within the “inward” category, while creative & productive are part of “outward”. Eating & social straddle the two categories because it’s an efficient way to achieve both within 24 hours and they’re such a natural pairing. Often I pair exercise & social time. Also, I gravitate towards …

The Reliants Project: 6 months

It’s been 3 more months and I feel like I have more questions than answers. No doubt a more dynamic visualisation tool would be incredibly useful, but I also feel that the information I’m keeping track of is incomplete. Just to remind readers (and myself) why I am doing this, my goal is understand how adults make friends they can rely on by tracking my own experience building a personal network after moving to a new city. I call this type of friend a “reliant” in honour of my new home, London. Relocation is one of the most jarring experiences for individuals and often results in significant changes to their personal network. It’s also increasingly common. reliant   /re·li·ant/   noun. 1. a British car manufacturer. 2. a person on which someone depends. Here’s the visualisation as it stands today, 6 months into my journey. As before, the data has been anonymised by removing labels. If you’re interested in the first 3 months, I wrote about them here. Connections are categorised into 4 groups: local contacts, non-local contacts, local reliants …

A new year, a new tool

It seemed fitting to spend New Years in the home of an accomplished clockmaker and ironic that not a single handcrafted-clock accurately announced the arrival of 2016. What the home lacked in terms of punctuality it made up for in English country charm and wood-burning warmth. It was the perfect place to quietly reflect on an eventful 2015 and prepare for the year ahead. In the company of a very reflective friend with a well-developed set of personal development tools, I attempted to glean some wisdom and adapt his methods to fit my goals. Until now, I had only two simple processes that I employed to reflect on my year and set future priorities. For the last 6 years I’ve kept track of my happiest moments and tried to identify any patterns, trends or shifts among them. I also regularly set personal themes to guide my actions over a set period of time, which typically lasted 3 months to a year. My friend introduced me to the idea of using radar charts to rate aspects of life on …