The Stories Behind the Data

When we asked our friends or families to give us a photo that was important to them, they responded with more than just a visual – they responded their own narratives. Each and every photo gave its audience a glimpse into the life of its subject. This is one of the reasons why we decided to make our groups theme "Making Memories."

Observing the data my group and I collected, a few things became obvious about the nature of peoples' most important memories. First off, they typically wanted to share their happiest memories with us, most of which weren't too far in the past. We didn't receive any overwhelmingly emotional photos or photos that appeared to be filled with any negative emotions.

Most of the memories, 90 percent to be exact, were made in nature, typically at the beach or in the mountains. Fifty-five percent of the photos my group received featured only one person, which surprised us because memories aren't usually an individual undertaking. Only 10 percent of the photos featured a dog, and only one photo's sole subject was an animal.

Other general things we analyzed were the landmarks, colors and actions featured in the photos. The amount of photos from vacations seemed about equal to the number of photos from home, which was fascinating. From personal knowledge, I could tell that most of the out-of-state contributors gave a photo from their home state, but that information couldn't be discerned solely from observing the photographs.

With that in mind, what was more important in this specific data collection process was all of the information we couldn't gather strictly from looking at our raw data (photos). We could guess that the subject of a picture was joyful or content, but there was no accurate way to discern the individual's emotions without asking them about it firsthand. 

Without any context, it was impossible for us to move from data to knowledge.

Anonymizing the data made learning anything from it even more difficult. Because we wanted to respect the privacy of those who shared their information with us, we couldn't give more background regarding any of the pictures. 

That's why, for this project, I gained permission from the five people who gave me photos to tell the actual story behind their memories.

To compare their answers with my group's observations, I asked each person one question based on the categories my group creates. The answers I received were usually more detailed and always more accurate. Still, just the categories my group created wouldn't properly tell their stories. I added questions about the people in the picture, the day it was taken and if there was anything they wanted to add that I hadn't brought up.

On the next page, you'll find five videos that further detail images F-J of Group Tsoo's data.