Friday, January 6, 2012

the infiniflux 2011 infographic

As I've discussed before (several times, in fact), I love beautiful scientific figures. Of course, the figure is only as good as the data it presents.

For the past year, I've been using the free web app Daytum, which combines Google's Chart APIs [1] with some elegant CSS/database scripting, allowing users to record various data in their lives according to whatever category they see fit. They have an iPhone app that makes recording entries quite easy. Daytum then displays the data in pretty, interactive plots.

As a grad student finishing my thesis, I thought it might be interesting to record my caffeine intake over the year to see how much I relied on chemistry's friendliest molecule:

(You can mouse over the charts to highlight a particular beverage.)

(If you're reading this in an RSS reader, the embedded graphs won't display correctly. Sorry!)

A legend for those of you keeping score at home:

- I averaged 1.96 coffees per day over the year, although you can see there was significant variation as required by my thesis writing schedule. The first rise happened in May when I was trying to write the first draft of my thesis. Caffeine consumption dipped slightly after I handed in the thesis to the committee, and I took some time off to get married and honeymoon (whoop whoop!). It then spiked pre-defense, tailing off during the move to Vancouver for my postdoc. It has since climbed steadily as we get settled in.

- My favourite coffeeshops were Transcend in Edmonton and Kafka's in Vancouver. Other highlights include Elm Cafe in Edmonton, Dark Horse in Toronto, and Blue Bottle in San Francisco.

- Most of the black coffee was made at home with my trusty French Press. My recipe is 30 g of coarsely-ground coffee to 16 oz water slightly cooled off the boil, steeped for 4 minutes. Delicious! Sometimes I cheated and added a little milk to cool the black coffee if I was in a rush in the mornings. Also, the volume of black coffee could vary significantly depending on the size of the beverage container.

- I made a lot of iced coffee using this NY Times recipe, which is DELICIOUS. It's way better than regular brewed coffee or espresso over ice, so I tracked it separately. You should make it too! Sometimes I added some cinnamon to the grounds as they steeped for extra deliciousness.

- Here's a list of espresso beverages for anyone not familiar. It's missing the flat white (a drink invented by Australians, in between a cappuccino and a latte), and the Gibraltar (a slightly gimmicky version of the cappuccino originating from San Francisco that is popular in Vancouver).

- The double double is Canada's signature coffee beverage from Tim Horton's, featuring two creams and two sugars. It is only to be consumed with greasy breakfast foods, in order to make the terrible coffee palatable.

It was fun to track my coffee consumption over the year, although I think I will try to find something new to quantify for 2012. Any suggestions?

[1] The Google Chart API looks amazing! Looks like there's some interesting work being done in Chemical Education in using it to make fancy plots.


Will said...

Wow! Hmm, I obsessively track enough things as it is, do I really want to add caffeine to that list? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Very pretty graphs. (except no units!?)

I wonder where I fall; I'm guessing right around 2 as well, maybe slightly higher. But mine would be much more boring, since about 90-95% is just black coffee I brew in lab. (Egg nog added when available.) A double espresso here and there, an occasional mocha if I want dessert.

(Btw flat white is right in the middle of that chart, unless yours is different from that?)

Anonymous said...

Hav you met my hubby, The Chicken, who writes down our electricity consumption every day? You two should compare random life tracking notes.

Joel Kelly said...

@Will- whoops, right you are.

Daytum does have its drawbacks, including adding units. The iPhone app is better in this regard.

kerry said...

Wait, infographics are science? I love infographics. Ergo, I love science!

Bethany said...

i love this about you

Nathan Jonah Kai Winter said...

I can't believe you actually did this. Well, no, I believe and love it.

What about tracking every type of popular media you experience? TV/Movie/Internet/iPhone itself? That would keep you busy.

Joel Kelly said...

Ryan North, famous internet comic artist, did that this year! Here's his movie list: