What is this blog about?

Part of the “How to Connect with Anyone” course, that I’m currently doing, is a video interview between Scott Dinsmore (late founder of Live Your Legend) and Chris Guillebeau (general overachiever).

One of the things that Guillebeau said in this interview struck me, and is relevant to this blog. He says lots of people blog about their development, but few of them give an opinion, give the reader something on which they can take action.

Watch the video here. Relevant quote at around 12 minutes.

I suppose this is true about this blog. I have to ask myself exactly what it is for, and why would anyone else read it?

This is food for thought, and I haven’t come up with an answer. But I’ve decided to try (slightly) change it’s direction. One of the things I like is InfoVis and I have made many posts regarding this. But it was very haphazard, and it was just things that I found mildly interesting. With this is mind I have decided, in the future, to only post proper InfoVis that is interactive, interesting and innovative. Not just some random infographic.

I have also reorganised the archive pages containing my previous posts (top right menus, on the desktop version of the website). Separating out the infovis from the infographics.

Also, I now intend to blog about animation, as this is the direction where I am increasingly focussing my attention in my career. And there is now an animation archive as well.

While these changes hardly make this blog more compelling, I’m hoping that I’m steering it in a direction where (sooner or later) I will develop it into something worth reading.

InfoVis – Cities, Satellites, Suns, Temperature and… Tennis

This is going to be my last post of this kind featuring a random selection of information visualisation and infographics.

I have been choosing items to post on the basis of whether they looked good or the data they showed was interesting. While on a personal level I am interested in all sorts of random pieces of knowledge, on professional level what I am interested is the way in which the information is presented, espcially interactively.

From now on I am going to post only interactive infovis. That is, information visualisation, hopefully innovative, not just some well designed (or in some cases not) graphic.

But before I do that I thought I would still post the final pieces of generic infovis that I had bookmarked

Cities that were at one point the largest in the world

Just about 20 billion suns

Just about 20 Billion suns.

Every active satellite orbiting earth

This interactive shows more than 1,300 and gives details of each including name, purpose, launch date, country of origin and orbital distance.




A simple explanation

A visual history of women’s tennis

Several graphs comparing the women’s number one players.





I am an introvert.

Unfortunately this is a much misunderstood word. Introvert does not equal shy. An introvert is someone who draws their strength from within. As opposed to an extrovert who draws their strength from others. An introvert prefers solitude, but that does not mean they avoid crowds or people. It just mean that being within a crowd of people can be draining and an introvert needs alone time to recharge. An introvert often does their best work by themselves. It does not mean that they don’t like people (although…). Human beings are naturally social creatures.

Many people do not believe that I am an introvert. I am gregarious. I am friendly. I can be outgoing. I appear confident. I hold my own in a noisy room. But I am more comfortable in one-to-one situations.

Last year I entered the Live Your Legend blog challenge. This blog that you are reading. And I won. At the time, I did not believe it. I thought this was just some marketing ruse, and that I had “won” just like everyone else had “won”. But no, after talking with others at the Live Your Legend Local London event, I find out that others who had entered had not “won”.

My prize for winning was entry to the “How to Connect with Anyone” course. This course starts next week, but this week there is a lot of preamble going on. One of the units that is available outside the main course is one called “Introverts 101”.

This unit has several videos regarding introversion, most of them good. Although I think one of them equates shyness to introversion while all the others tell us that shyness and introversion are not the same thing. A bit of a mixed message from a unit that is trying to help introverts.

The “shy” video says that shy people can misinterpret facial expressions, or at least interpret neutral expressions as “I don’t like you”. Whereas extroverts interpret neutral facial expressions as “I like you”. Although I personally think this is just the narcissism of extroverts where they think that everyone like them and they don’t take a hint.

This is what the other videos suggest, that introverts are actually better at reading body language. They will notice when someone doesn’t want to talk to them, or when they have been in a conversation for too long.

The thing is, I notice this all the time. Not a situation where I have bored someone to distraction, but more at networking events where I meet people and almost immediately they give off signals that they don’t want to be doing this. While I respect that, it does annoy me slightly, as I think “why are you at a networking event if you don’t want to talk to people?”. The TED talk is this series of videos says that a third to half of all people are introverts. Possibly these uncomfortable people at the networking events are introverts just like me, and I should be more understanding.

Likewise, the video about “shy” people says they are prone to interpreting situations in a negative light. When remembering a social situation they focus on the negative. An extrovert will focus on the positive. Again, I could argue, this is the narcissism of the extrovert, not noticing anything other than how great they think they are. However, I do recognise that the misinterpretation by “shy” people could be the case. There is no reason to focus on the negative.

At the most recent Live Your Legend Local London event we did various exercises, many of which I had done a variation of before while following the LYL website. There was one that was a little different and that was to think about my weaknesses. I’d been asked to think about my strengths on many occasions.

The weaknesses I wrote were connection with people, calmness, forgiveness.

The first I believe is a result of my introversion. It’s not that I can’t connect with people. It’s not that I don’t continue those connections. But I feel that I am particularly choosy about the continuing connections. Maintaining connections takes work, or at least I assume it does. Or assume it comes easier to extroverts. Whereas I will just let connections fade because I sometimes find it draining to maintain them. The positives of a connection have to far outweigh the negatives for me to be the one that pursues re-connecting.

The second two, calmness and forgiveness, I believe it is part of me not focussing on the positive. If a situation annoys me, and I no longer remain calm (usually within) it is because I focus too much on the negative. And then I’m unable to reinterpret this same situation at a later date (forgiveness) because of this continuing negativity.

Then again, maybe I’m just beating myself up because I don’t like some people, and I’m never going to get along with everyone. Maybe this is me misinterpreting a social situation. It was actually fine for everyone else, I just remember it in a negative light.

I would like to acknowledge that other people seem to not think this about me. As I said people think I’m gregarious, friendly, out-going, confident. And as I’m an introvert these situations can get draining. I just think that I could be better at these situation. I’m hoping this How to Connect with Anyone course will help.

InfoVis – More world data

Population Pyramids of the World 1950-2100

An interactive where you choose or cycle through the years and the pyramid will animate from one to the other,


population pyramid

World population distribution by latitude and longitude 2015



Most common last names by country

Possibly this should be “surname” not last name.

Religion in Europe

Percentage of population in each European country that believes in God, or “something”, or atheist.


As part of the Live Your Legend program I have started doing a Weekly Planner. This has been through various iterations. One was a Word document with questions on it that I had to answer. But then I ended up with a folder full of Word documents that I’m never going to look at again. Currently I use an Excel document, with similar questions, all in one column. Then each week I start a new column with my answers. And I can compare with previous weeks’ answers.

Along with the Weekly Planner, I have started keeping a diary. That is, a planner for the future (not a journal). Specifically the next week. LYL suggests that I can schedule my every minute. I have not done that. But I have a specific list of things that I want to do every day.

Initially I used an electronic diary. But I found this wasn’t flexible enough. Either I had to have a daily task or a scheduled task. And then moving things around wasn’t that easy. And the moving through the various views wasn’t easy either. I found it didn’t give me the ‘at a glance’ I was looking for.

So, I bought a paper diary. One day a page. And filled the entire next week out each Sunday. I have been using this for three months now. However each entry has been little more than a scribble. An aide de memoire, to remind me of what I should be doing.

At the moment, as I have mentioned in a previous post, I am reading a book about habits. I have just finished the chapter about changing habits. One of the methods was writing about what you were going to do, before you do it, and going into detail about this activity. Another was writing about experiences after they had happened, to debrief, and analyse what went right or wrong.

In a small way I am now going to take this advice on. I have not been sticking to my schedule as much as I would like. So I am now going to make fully worded entries into my diary. Not long, but a complete entry, that is proper written, not just scribbled. And have a specific column where I can write what has been done. Not just a tick column, but a space to write a complete entry.

We’ll see if this changes my habits.

InfoVis – World data

Are You Really Tall?

An graph where you can enter your birth date, country of birth and gender to compare your height with similar people. Am I really tall? According to this graph: yes.



Olympics 2016: Some key numbers

You can choose how to measure which country actual won the Olympics (and all the subsequent ranks) by number of competitors, medals, participation, efficiency and talent. The example here shows the number of gold medals each nation has won per 100 competitors they sent. By this count Tajikistan won.



Animated population pyramids

Showing the age distribution of eight countries from 1990-2050.

Habits and happiness

I’m currently reading a book on the science of habits, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. One of the concepts it talk about is how habits form. It talks about the cycle: Cue – Routine – Reward. We do what we do because we are rewarded.

This extends to the workplace. If you do do work that you enjoy, it is because it gives you a sense of reward. Whether that been a feeling of satisfaction or the praise of your boss, client, whoever.

This made me think of the job that I left last year, and why I left it. I no longer enjoyed it. I had previously enjoyed it because I was learning new things, I got satisfaction from the projects that I created and I got praise from those around me. But in the last months of this job I was learning nothing, the completion of my work was interfered with, and if I did manage to successfully complete something, there was no praise, but that’s because it probably wasn’t that good due to the previous interference. It had become the opposite of enjoyable. So I left.

The most recent post on the Live Your Legend site dealt with how to stay a job, that you might not be enjoying, and find the positive to turn it around.

There were eight (or nine) points

1. Get interested in your colleagues.
Possibly I didn’t do this as much as I should have, but I have also realised since I left this job that the most creative people in the business were generally kept away from the creative decisions. And odd choice for a creative agency. I did become interested in the creative people (not in a creative position).

2. Become interesting and share what matters to you.
This is the flip side. But this also needs that people want to be interested, have the imagination to be interested. However I did share with those who were interested.

But generally I think I was mocked for sharing. Anything not mainstream and suburban didn’t really fit the vibe of a lot of people there. (See my previous post on scaffolding)

3. Find out your boss’s pain points.
I did this a lot, with both my immediate boss and the Managing Director, and I think I helped them solve a lot of the problems. The problem with this is that the other Partner, and at one point the then Client Services Director, did not see that these points needed to be fixed. They worked actively to keep things as they were. To berate me for wasting my time. To mock me if I achieved something (even though virtually everyone else at the company thanked me for it). And in the final months to actively stop me doing anything out of the ordinary.

I think what I’m trying to get across here is though the LYL post says there are ways of dealing with a bad job, my particular bad job had key members that fought as hard as they could to stop any change in the culture.

4. Discover the intersection between adding value & your interests
I actually did this. And manage to carve out a nice niche for myself. Until, again, I felt that this niche was got rid of (whether deliberately or not), thereby removing the thing I enjoyed most about the job.

5. Don’t get sucked into negativity
Again, very difficult. In the end I actually refused to go into meetings with a certain member of staff because I didn’t see the point. Nothing got achieved when he was in meetings. This was really near the end and I think this was the point when I thought “I have to leave”

6. Dress for success
In other words get noticed. And I got noticed. But that was a good and a bad thing. One partner loved my work. The other seemed to resent it.

7. Develop yourself outside of work
I definitely did this, and I continue to do so. In recent years I have gone to 6 TEDx events, travelled many countries, followed the LYL program, attended courses in Spanish, Javascript and Illustration, learnt new software, joined many MeetUps and started meditating.

8. Get outside your comfort zone
At this job I always took on tasks that I yet did not know how to do. I’m not sure this is ‘outside my comfort zone’, as I am comfortable doing this. I am comfortable learning new, unknown skills. I also was head of my department for about 50% of time I was at this job. Mainly because the various people in that position kept quitting (or was on holiday). This was definitely out of my comfort zone, and I think I managed it. But I doubt I could have done much more, as I think the culture of this company was to keep everyone within their defined box. They (or one of the partners) didn’t really like innovation.

Always leave a party when you’re still having fun…
I left way after I stopped enjoying this job. The problem was that I had enjoyed it, and I just felt there had been a shift in the politics at the top, where people were being made to pull their head in. Or more accurately, keep their heads below the parapet. It’s very hard to do many of the above points in a company like that.

Since leaving this job I have been freelancing, irregularly. I have more been concentrating on what I want to do next. Especially by following the LYL program and other activities that it suggests.

Getting out of that job was definitely the right thing to do. But making a firm decision on my next move is something that I feel has alluded me. I certainly have many options before me, and indeed have been encouraged to just choose one and run with it.

But I haven’t found that thing. That passion. Which I thought I might through all this exploration. (Although there are the naysayers who say “just do it, stop procrastination”)

Some days I feel I’ve moved in the opposite direction of where I want to go. I feel demotivated.

I recently found this list entitled “Everything is awful and I’m not okay: questions to ask before giving up”

I don’t feel that “everything is awful”, but I think some of the things on this list also help with demotivation. Especially as some days I stayed home all day, even if I am working.



An odd post this one. Relevant to the next post, which (as this is a blog and posts are presented in reverse order, newest first) is probably the post you read before this one.

There was a “creative” agency that I worked at for some years. Full of designers. Commercial artists.

You would think that these people would see art everywhere they go. Have an appreciation of form and structure. I know I do.

Every now and then I take a picture of a very elaborate piece of scaffolding. The shape of the intersecting pieces they make and the depth I think are very interesting. They remind me of an Escher drawing.

However at this workplace – this graphic design workplace – full of graphic artists – I was mocked for my interest in scaffolding. Which I think says more about their lack of imagination (these so-called designers) than me.





Cubic Space Division by M C Escher


Six World Maps

All the World’s Immigration Visualized in 1 Map

This animated map is zoomable, and individual countries can be selected to see migration to and from that country.


Ship Map

This site has an intro video outlining the importance of the world shipping. The interactive map is zoomable by geography and date, showing the shipping activity throughout the world.


Age of Consent by Country

A flat map showing just that. Ages range between 12 to 21.


Suicide death rate by country

A map with limited interactivity showing suicide rates in four categories ranging from low to high, plus a table with the data.


Why the former USSR has far fewer men than women

A flat map and article outlining the gender disparity throughout the world. Interestingly, through the visualisation you can see the male bias through North Africa, Middle East and Asia.


Projecting Land

An animated interactive where you can choose various projections of the world map and alter the parameter for some very interesting shapes.


Just like Earth, only more so…