Beyond the check-in

This was published more than 11 years ago

Attitudes and opinions change and evolve.

You know that feeling you get when you stumble upon something you wrote in the distant past and it's terrible? There are many cringe-worthy bits of immature writing on this website (and I'm probably still creating more).

As well as the mere cringe-worthy, there are also opinions and attitudes expressed that I no longer hold and am, frankly, embarrassed by. (Please don't go looking, they're deliberately hard to find, but left for the sake of posterity.)

I hope if you've stumbled across some here, you'll give me the benefit of the doubt.

The use of personal geographic data has very quickly become the next big thing on the social web and it’s a driving force in the localisation of something that has been thought of as ‘world wide’ since its very inception. Indeed, the ‘world wide web’ was (and still is) amazing in large part because of its ability to circumvent the barriers of vast geographic space, but that novelty is over and the future is social and local.

The possibilities exposed by attaching geographic data to online content have excited me since the day I discovered I could geotag my photos on Flickr, and the much more recent explosion of services like FourSquare and Gowallla tells me I’m not alone.

Last time I got really caught up in a personal web project, the result was What do you suggest?, this time it’s All The Places I Go.

Collecting and exploring personal geographic data

It’s immediately obvious that some very interesting things can be done with a record of personal geographic data. But those two examples only scratch the surface; I wanted to dig deeper. Once I started though, one thing kept bothering me…the gaps.

Check-ins are quite isolated pieces of data; there are huge gaps in both the record, and types of analysis that can be performed. It’s difficult or impossible to expose some of the facts that may be of most interest. A data set of discrete check-ins can tell you how many times you’ve been to Gertie’s on a Wednesday night, but it can’t tell you how long you spent there, let alone discover things like how long your average work day is.

For the duration of 2011, I’m going beyond the check-in: collecting a complete record of my geographic location.

Throughout the year, I’ll be analysing the data and publishing the resulting charts, graphs, maps and statistics at I’ve started by picking off some low-hanging fruit, like finding the locations I frequent the most, and spend the most time and doing a brief analysis of my average day.

The possibilites

Really, I’ve only just begun to think of the possibilities and I’m already overwhelmed with choice. There’s definitely plenty to come - as a start I’m thinking things like:

There must be so many data visualisation possibilites I haven’t thought of yet and it would be great to hear any ideas you might have. In fact, if you’ve got any questions or comments at all, please leave a comment below or get in touch (you can also leave comments directly on most pages at or message me on Twitter @drzax). I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Charting the average day