radical imperfection in time-tracking


What makes the experience of observing our creative selves through data surprising, intriguing, and even healing?

• 9. February - 9. March 2021
• Online!
• Five-weeks, Tuesdays, 7-9PM CET
• Small class of participants

Pricing (For tickets click here)
Artist / Student (Full Time)*



Generous Supporter Ticket*

Solidarity ticket*
Donation (Limited)


Winter is the season of taking stock, reflecting, and preparing for the energy of spring. But where does our time go exactly? In this course, we will be taking a closer look at the intersection of time-tracking and tracking creative energy. Neither time tracking nor creative energy needs to be limited to things that relate to "work," especially if that work is alienating, or if work and home boundaries have blurred. We will stay inclusive and open-minded in observing our expressive and creative experiences through data.

This is a technical course: it draws on information and data visualization techniques and creative coding as tools for working with self-tracking and time-spent-on-task data. However, it does not end there: the aim is to mobilize these technical tools for deeply personal challenges.

In this practice-based course, we will work together on understanding, healing, and enriching our relationship to our creative energy. Through a combination of reflective sketching exercises and critical technical discussion, we will use systematic self-reflection (e.g., self-tracking) to capture data about how our time is spent, especially on projects we are passionate about. Although these techniques can also be used for productivity and creativity "hacking" or optimizing, we will be interrogating our own relationship to these concepts.

Participants can choose any medium to give this data an interesting or insightful form. Examples in the course will use primarily Toggl data and p5.js / (all free and work in the browser), but participants can pick any other tools for collection of data or its representation. Participants can also work on finding and critiquing existing visualizations relevant to course themes, or to their specific interests.

The last session of the course will be used to share projects in which everyone can get more in-depth feedback from their peers. No prior technical experience is required, and all methods (digital or analog) are equally welcome.

Each week is organized around a particular aspect of representation or visualization of data. Lecture materials will draw from: current scientific research in human-computer interaction (HCI); foundational materials in information visualization communities; and work on flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and others.

Some practical considerations for working with personal data and data representation will also draw from Data Feminism by D’Ignazio and Klein; and The Quantified Self by Deborah Lupton. The book Work's Intimacy by Melissa Gregg written almost 10 years ago about particular challenges faced by creative professionals working remotely (based on extensive qualitative research) will provide some good starting points for discussion on the meaning of "work," "creativity," and "productivity" relevant today.

course outline

Week 1: Introductions

In this first class, we will all introduce ourselves, and share motivations and expectations for the class. In the second half of the class, we will introduce and discuss the key concepts that we will work with. First, what we mean by creative energy; and second - time.

In the psychological state of flow - absorbed creative work - one defining characteristic is a sense of absorption, and an altered perception of time: the sense of time passing fades. Some techniques, like the Pomodoro technique, are addressing almost the opposite psychological state: when it is very hard to sit down and do the intended tasks. Lastly, we will have an open discussion on what can make the long-term tracking of time, particularly in creative contexts, interesting or useful to us as individuals and as a collective.

Week 2: Encoding

In this week, we will have a very brief overview of the foundations of encoding contextual and emotional data through colors, textures, and basic shapes. We will also consider examples of using trellis plots to express change or difference. This session will include a brief introduction to technical examples (vega; and p5.js in that participants can further explore outside of class, participants who prefer to use other tools are welcome to do so.

Week 3: Repetition

The focus of this week will be to dive into the cycles in time-based data, and representing them in visualizations through interaction, layout, and animation. Discussion will consider existing literature and our own experience on which cycles - and at which scale - are more important to our creative energy. It will be helpful to have collected at least a week’s worth of some kind of data - but the longer, the better!

Week 4: Glyphs

This week, we will visit some examples from experimental music notation and abstract art, as well as the history of the use of glyphs like Chernoff faces for creating representations of abstract multi-dimensional data. We will discuss the role of creating representations of personal data, the intended audiences, and the meaning of legibility.

Week 5: Final project presentations

As a project-based course, students are invited to work on a project to share in the last session; it can be an exploration or continuation of prior work related to course topics. Each of the prior weeks considers a particular type of visualization technique, and provides a prompt to consider in context of a month-long project.

who is this
class for?

Do you want to understand the ebbs and flows of your creative energy? Do you sometimes notice that time seems to run away? Does tracking data about yourself and reflecting on what you observe help you improve your understanding of yourself? Are you curious in learning information visualization basics to use in a creative and exploratory project? Or simply feel curious and/or critical about any of these subjects? Come join us. Enthusiastic like-minded community included. No experience necessary.

about live classes

Classes are 'live' meaning that you can directly interact with the instructor as well as with the other participants from around the world. Classes will also be recorded for playback in case you are unable to attend for any reason. For specific questions, please email us and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

about fees

We realise we're living in uncertain times. During this time, we are offering a limited number of pay-what-you-can solidarity tickets for this online class. Preference is given to women, POC, LGBTQ+ and persons from underrepresented communities in tech who would otherwise be unable to attend. We are a small organisation with no outside funding and like many, we are also in survival mode and we ask you to consider this when making your donation. We are greatly appreciative of your understanding and support.

about tickets

Tickets for this class are currently available via Eventbrite. If you would like to avoid Eventbrite fees, please email us for direct payment options. We kindly ask that all “pay-what-you-can” students register through Eventbrite. Due to reduced staffing, we’re unable to handle specific payment requests for these registrations.

meet the