Personal Instants

We live in a society governed by information, much of which is produced by us through the most diverse ubiquitous computing devices. Every day more people are connected to the Internet and more information is produced. In large part, this increase in online production is due to social networks and the content we produce and share on them.
Instagram alone has more than 1 billion users. As almost all activities on social networks, many of our activities on Instagram are performed in a few seconds and quickly become part of the past and are forever forgotten.
From this reflection comes Personal Instants, a visual representation of our spontaneous activity on the Instagram that aims to reveal the huge amount of data and content produced by us in this virtual universe and, at the same time, reveal our type of virtual persona, our online social stance, in a perpetual manner. The work resorts to the users own downloadable data about their Instagram activity which is then used to define the visualization elements and their disposition.

 

Visualization Organisms

 

Taking the metaphor of the universe of virtual organisms aforementioned, we wanted to represent each type of action/event through a distinct organism. Generally, when we talk about organisms from invisible universes we are often talking about microscopic organisms as if they were the unitary modules of something bigger, and for that reason, we chose a pixel-based approach to create the organisms, since the pixel is the module of the virtual universe when made visible.
The body core is common to all organisms, being distinguished only by the colour corresponding to the category of activity to which it belongs.
The type of action/event of the organism is indicated by its main colour. The remaining parts of the organism were designed to visibly resemble the icons that are generally used to represent the respective object or action. Active actions/events such as media production and sharing, giving likes and making comments take on more vivid colours in order to stand out more while passive activity, which does not involve the creation of new data, such as visualizing other users’ content or making new connections acquire less vivid colours (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Type of action/events and corresponding organisms.

 

Data Visualization

 

One prior processing of the data was done so that the information was grouped into a single structure containing the user’s activity temporally ordered and separated by days. After obtaining the now ordered structure of the entire data, the visual mapping process was designed through a continuous thread (just like the feed is presented on Instagram) from left to right and from top to bottom, generating a visual mesh to be read in a familiar and natural process for the users.
To more easily locate the represented organisms in time and also to have a better perception of the user’s daily activity dimension, a tag containing the corresponding date was added to the beginning of each day’s activity.
Another temporal variable that was taken into account was the user inactivity interval, that is, the gap of days without any type of activity associated with the user account. To represent this interval, and to emphasize this personal behaviour which in our opinion is a piece of distinctive information in the user profile characterization, a visual interval was added to the mesh with the number of modules equal to the gap of inactivity days (See Figure 2).

Figure 2

Activity mesh mapping process, starting on the canvas top-left corner andtaking a direction from left to right and from top to bottom.

 

Results

Since the work was conceived with the intent of perceiving the different types of Instagram users profiles, namely though their behaviours, we requested the activity data from several users, of which the results of two can be seen in Figure 3 and Figure 4.

Figure 3

A PDF version of the user can be consulted at: User 1 activity

Figure 4

A PDF version of the user can be consulted at: User 2 activity