Graph of personal ideas over time

Lately, I’ve been curious about how / when / where project ideas come from, particularly the influence one’s environment has over creative output.

I’ve used an app called Things to keep track of daily to-dos and new project ideas since early 2009. As a consequence of this, my project ideas live in an XML database file (in ~/Library/Application Support/Cultured Code/Things/Database.xml).

A few lines of Python (attached below) made it easy for me to analyze the date associated with the creation of each new project idea. By graphing new ideas over time (above) I hoped to find some kind of pattern and learn more about my creative process.

In one respect, this kind of exercise justifies why I bother storing so much information in a heavily structured way. In another, it’s symptomatic of the kind of narcissistic self-quantification I’ve dubbed quantifibation.

Regardless, the graph was a bit less revelatory than I expected — the slope is relatively constant. The only aspects of the graph that map meaningfully to my memory is the flat spot towards the end of the summer between year one and two at ITP. After an initial burst of productivity at the start of the summer, I flatlined for a long time… the bump towards the end of the summer can probably be attributed to a residency in Vienna with Sofy.

Still, the source data is problematic since major and minor project ideas are given the same weight… and I am not diligent enough about checking off completing ideas to get any sense of completion rates — and knowing when projects were actually completed instead of the date of conception might give more useful information about when things actually get done.