Eye of data — the beginning

Since I can remember it, I wanted to be a pharmacist.

I loved chemistry, math and working in a laboratory. I was really passionate about it. I could do these things all day and it would be a great day.

As I enrolled in my Master’s Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences, it took me a while to realise that maybe I wasn’t going to be able to spend everyday in the lab working on experiments or just with my head buried in a complex chemistry problem. However, the more I progressed in the course, I started to realise that it wasn’t what I really wanted.

Even though I still loved the same stuff, everything that I was learning was leading me more to selling medicine in a pharmacy rather than doing experiments. It wasn’t what I wanted to do at all.

By the time I was finishing my degree, I was really demotivated.

I still finished and was really happy not only about it but for the great people I met at the University and everything else I learned. But I knew that working in a pharmacy wasn’t something that I wanted to do on the long run.

I was, by luck presented with the opportunity to work at a company as an administrative assistant. I did know again that I wasn’t going to do this forever but I was really excited about the job, the company itself, its values and the team I would be working with. I was pretty happy watching the company grow and even myself as I had the chance to learn a bunch of new stuff and work with different mindsets and values.

However, it came to a point that I felt that I needed something else.

I needed something challenging. That was when it was suggested to me that I could learn how to code. I didn’t have any programming experience, so I pretty much had to start from scratch. I tried it first with Python, then with R. It wasn’t easy at times, but it was exactly what I wanted.

Me typing my first few lines of code…

I started to do data analysis using company’s data and I loved it.

I could spend hours working on it. And it wasn’t just about writing a few lines of code — it was about figuring out what the data was hiding and what knowledge we could extract from it.

A couple of months into this, I started to play around with Adobe Illustrator. From an early age that I loved to draw and paint. I wasn’t really good at it, but it was something I enjoyed doing in my free time.

So it’s easy to guess what was the next step for me right?

I started to read a lot about data visualization techniques, doing research on the topic and spending hours trying to make sense of the visualizations I was looking at. I learned that every one of them was so much more about a story than just numbers. This was really exciting for me. Of course I had come across many graphs and different designs my whole life, but I didn’t spend much time thinking about them — I took the information that was useful for me and that was it.

Part of my book collection

I was really inspired by the work of David McCandless, Alberto Cairo, Isabel Meirelles, Nathan Yau and Andy Kirk, just to mention a few. I learned so much from their books and work in general.

This first post, might be meaningless for some people that from young knew the career path they were going to follow, but maybe it will help others that had the same experience as me and changed to a career they felt was a better choice for them.

So what is Eye of Data?

I created this page to put into words what my train of thought is every time I am presented with a piece of data and try to create something meaningful and useful for other people to understand that data.

My learning process didn’t start that long ago, I’m still quite in the beginning but I want to keep improving what I do. Some of my ideas are not that great while others end up working, but I won’t be posting here only the good ones. Anyway, it would be great if I could have some feedback out of this.

When I first tried to design a logo for this page, I didn’t have a clear picture of how it should look.

First draft on paper

I knew the idea it should transmit though — I wanted it to represent how the data is in its raw presentation and how, going through the data cleaning process, filtering and data visualization, it is transformed into something clean, beautiful, well presented and easy to understand.

eyeofdata logo design process

So my line of thought was that the little squares on top, all in different angles, all disorganised would represent unstructured, raw data. The lamp would represent the ideas and the thinking process going on while analysing the data. And finally, the organised squares inside the lamp would be the output, the structured data.

I will regularly update this page with two types of content:

  • One in video format where I do a “quick drawing” on how I build a piece of data visualization.
  • A normal medium post, where I analyse in written format a visualisation.