Why designers should embrace ‘weird data’

Article by Mimi Ọnụọha: “My interest in missing things began with what I could see. For a long time, I have kept a small piece of paper taped to the bottom right corner of my desk. This paper comes and goes, at times becoming wrinkled, discolored by tea stains, or hidden under a stack of books. But it always serves the same purpose: listing the most eccentric datasets that I can find online.

Before the score and lyrics for the hit American musical Hamilton had been released, a group of obsessed fans created a shared document of every word in the show. This dataset made my list. In 2016, a Reddit user published a post with a link to where he had downloaded the metadata of every story ever published on fanfiction.net, a popular site for stories about fandoms. This, too, made the list.

Other things that have graced the list: the daily count of footballs produced by the Wilson Sporting Goods football factory in Ada, Iowa (4,000 as of 2008); an estimation of the number of hot dogs eaten by Americans on the Fourth of July every year (most recently: 150 million); the locations of every public toilet in Australia (of which there are more than 17,000).

Australian academic Mitchell Whitelaw defines data as measurements extracted from the flux of the real. When we typically think of collecting data, we think of big, important things: census information, UN data about health and diseases, data mined by large companies like Google, Amazon, or Facebook….(More)”.