All posts tagged: communication

Honeycomb hexayurt

The first time I went to Burning Man, my experience was made much more comfortable by fellow campers who had prepared temporary shelters and offered me a spare. Insulation from cold, reflection of sun, firm walls, and being able to stand up removed many of the common irritations of camping. When our group began planning for this year’s trip to the Burn, I wanted to give them the same level of comfort. I set out to design a structure that would provide all of those benefits and some privacy, while minimising the amount of construction materials we’d have to buy and transport. The design I arrived at is based on the 6′ hexayurt, one of the many designs by Vinay Gupta. In order to reduce the amount of building materials required, I arranged them in a honeycomb layout. This saved us 4 sheets of 4’x8′ insulating foam and about a roll of filament tape. It could easily be expanded to incorporate more hexayurts, seemingly indefinitely (though it does make sealing much more difficult). Here’s the recipe. …

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, …

Personal storytelling through visualizations

The most ubiquitous way to share personal experiences and stories is through photos. Relatively speaking, they are quick to create and can be instantaneously shared. They’re great for capturing a feeling or special moment, but rarely show change over time or the relationship between two or more ideas. Video does a much better job of displaying these nuances, which is why it has become such a popular medium for storytelling. Collages, photo books, and yearbooks were all born of the desire to provide more context to photos and document experiences. Data visualizations require more data points, a decisive angle and time to craft. However, they can capture a story more holistically, distill information into key points, help share learnings easily, and provide an opportunity for reflection. Finally, the tools to create these types of visuals are available to all and becoming much easier to use. Data visualization and the quantified self My first exposure to data visualization was through an Edward Tufte course in 1999. He is considered a pioneer in the space and his passion is contagious. These days, dynamic visual displays of …

Reflecting on a year of pop-up dinners

Almost one year ago, a casual conversation over coffee became an ongoing experiment in crafting immersive dining experiences to build lasting connections through engaging dialog. Six dinners and many tweeks later, I’m beginning to hone in on the building blocks that form a foundation for success. While Hong Kong is an extremely social city, almost all interactions happen outside the home. Apartments are small and kitchens even smaller, so people rarely entertain in their own space. This creates an unfortunate dynamic where conversations tend to be artificially shortened by local restaurant dining customs and there’s usually a point when participants must “ante up” in order to continue the discussion. Interactions don’t have the opportunity to organically unfold over time in a relaxed atmosphere. One of the few exceptions to this rule are junk boats, where the people are captive for a full day and the financial obligations are sorted in advance. However, this environment is not conducive to deep discussions because there are so many stimuli competing for attention. Hong Kong expats often find that while they have many casual friends, they are missing the deeper …