Every now and then I'm happy to justify to myself a rather indulgent post and today has a particularly warranted feel to it. Today marks the third anniversary since I launched visualisingdata.com and published my first post.
379 blog posts later, taking a step back, it is quite remarkable how much my professional life has changed since I penned that first post on February 5th, 2010. I'm fortunate that the moment got captured on film...
Back then I was working full time as an Information Manager at the University of Leeds and the blog was my attempt to maintain the momentum of learning and developing within this field that had begun three years before that.
Through writing about the subject, keeping abreast of latest developments and trying to carve out a personal conviction about the subject, it proved to be a real passion, even though the efforts going into the subject were great and taking up all my spare time on top of the day job.
I always hoped I'd get as far as three years' unbroken activity but I never foresaw that I'd have sufficient content to write about in such a sustained way. I take my hat off (the one in the picture) to all those who maintain the discipline and passion for keeping their own blogs and websites going and, moreover, showing the same consistency of frequency and quality year-on-year.
Over the subsequent months and years since I started I have been exceptionally fortunate to be in position to evolve from a 'normal' job existence to a full-time freelance professional. That is unquestionably a result of the blog as a shop window and the footfall that comes from the loyalty of long term visitors and the interest of new readers.
I want to sincerely thank all of those (thankfully) hundreds of thousands of you who have spent your precious time reading my musings. If I could shake the hand of each and everyone of you I'd probably hurt my wrist and, eventually, pick up some sort winter vomiting bug. It's not your fault, there's a lot going round. Anyway, where was I...
Picking up the pace...
I've not been remotely as prolific in my postings as I would have liked to have been. So many times I start a draft post, then time passes and I either lose my train of thought or the moment passes (or more likely Nathan or Andrew beat me to the line!).
I do hope to finally catch up with my life (bit dramatic maybe) over the next month and then get back to my desired ratio of a post every other day. I only want to post when there's something worth saying otherwise it is just noise. I've got books to read and review, new tools to play with, interviews with cool people to do, and all sorts of new content and ideas to get down out of my head.
I particularly need to update my resources posts profiling all the many tools, applications and programmes. I've got a list of about 30/40 more items to add to this collection. I will do this as soon as possible because I know these are popular items for all levels of readers.
Above that though I need to invest some time or money (or probably both) on my long-term planned site migration and redesign. I want it to look less like a hobbyist wordpress site and to invoke a much stronger design aesthetic and user experience. That will be a big job and I'm not really looking forward to the point of no return when I start it but it will be worth it.
Above all else, however, I really want to find more time to work on publicly visible designs. I'm hoping to have a football based project to share/show in the next month or so but I need to get more stuff out there. In my book and on my training sessions I always emphasise how practice, practice, and more practice is the most important route to refining your skills and that's the same for beginner and experienced designers alike. When you've worked on one visualisation project, you've worked on one visualisation project: everyone is different and offers new challenges and dynamics.
Part of this will involve me finally facing up to my many shortcomings on the programming side of this world. My intermediate skills in some and entry level skills in other languages are personally unacceptable so I hope to set aside some time to conquer (unlikely) that challenge. Thankfully, there are many coding heroes out there making these things more accessible and achievable.
On the training side, after next week's London event I am taking a short break from running my public schedule. I will be focusing on delivering a number of private sessions over the next few months and also looking to reboot my materials, giving them a nice lick of paint and bringing them up to date with my very latest thoughts and approaches. I'm also working hard to develop materials for the MICA Information Visualization MPS programme for which I'm delighted to have been asked to be a guest lecturer on one/two modules.
That's enough from me for now. Another massive thanks to everyone out there and look forward to a fourth year of blogging!