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Nathan Lau

A day in the life of Americans

flowingdata.com

Date:

05th July 2022

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Using microdata from the American Time Use Survey, Nathan Lau created a mesmerising and rather beautiful simulation of a day in the life of a thousand Americans. Each dot on the ‘animation’ represents an individual’s behaviour and traces 24 hours in their life. As the dots move from one activity to another, they change colour. Each colour represents a different part of life such as household care (red) or eating and drinking (green). The day starts with little movement at 4am, as most people are still asleep, but set the simulation to Fast and come 7am things really start to buzz. You will see people heading to work, run errands, take care of the kids, commute, work, relax and eat. None of it is exactly surprising, but the execution is such that we could watch it almost endlessly, trying to fit our own lives into the lives playing out in front of us. To most of us, data can be seen as a dull, if increasingly essential, business tool. Here it moves to another level. Used to illuminate the life of humans, it show just what it is that consumes us.

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Using microdata from the American Time Use Survey, Nathan Lau created a mesmerising and rather beautiful simulation of a day in the life of a thousand Americans. Each dot on the ‘animation’ represents an individual’s behaviour and traces 24 hours in their life. As the dots move from one activity to another, they change colour. Each colour represents a different part of life such as household care (red) or eating and drinking (green). The day starts with little movement at 4am, as most people are still asleep, but set the simulation to Fast and come 7am things really start to buzz. You will see people heading to work, run errands, take care of the kids, commute, work, relax and eat. None of it is exactly surprising, but the execution is such that we could watch it almost endlessly, trying to fit our own lives into the lives playing out in front of us. To most of us, data can be seen as a dull, if increasingly essential, business tool. Here it moves to another level. Used to illuminate the life of humans, it show just what it is that consumes us.

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