Herd Media
Opinion,  Series

Data narratives: introductions

This semester, the Data and Interactive Journalism class will publish a series exploring a variety of topics through data visualization. The series takes inspiration from the book Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec. 

Dear Data is a visual and narrative record of a year-long project where the authors exchanged postcards weekly. These hand-drawing data visualizations represented different aspects of their lives. 

We will use a similar approach to create visualizations and reflect on our personal experiences and emotions through data.

Our first topic is introductions and connection.

It is easy to feel disconnected from others in today’s fast-paced and often impersonal world. But as humans, we have a fundamental need for connection and belonging. One of the most basic and important ways we connect with others is by introducing ourselves.

Introductions serve as a way of establishing a connection with another person, and they provide an opportunity to share some basic information about ourselves and to learn about the other person. Through introductions, we build relationships, establish common ground, and create a sense of trust and understanding.

Introductions are more than just a way of exchanging names and titles. They are also an opportunity to convey who we are and what is important to us. We can build meaningful and lasting connections with others by being authentic and genuine in our introductions.

My life in cats

by Hannah Cron

My prized stuffed friend as a child was a small tuxedo cat from Toys-R-Us named Fluff, perhaps that’s where it all started. I didn’t grow up around animals, but I had always loved them, and I always had a soft spot for cats. I also dearly love dogs, before anyone accuses me of hatred. I think cats get a bad rap. A dog will come up to you and immediately be your best friend, but the love of a cat is a relationship that requires work, and I think some people are turned off by that. 

I got my first cat when I was in elementary school. My grandmother was a children’s librarian at our local library branch, and she called one day to say that someone had left a cat there in a cardboard box with half a bag of food and an apology and asked if we would like to take him. My grandmother is like me, a rare animal lover in my family, and she knew I wanted a cat. Luckily, my parents obliged, and I named my very first cat Scamper. As the name implies, he was a quick little guy with solid black fur. He lived outside, as that was as far as my parent’s graciousness extended at the time. We were the best of friends until the winter when he mysteriously disappeared. My mother thinks someone kidnapped him as a last-minute Christmas present, but we have never been sure. 

My second cat came along in middle school. My middle school yearbook teacher came into class one day saying that one of the high school yearbook editors had found yet another kitten in the parking lot — this had become a regular occurrence that spring at my small country school. I sent an email with the subject line “EMERGENCY” to my parents (these were my blissful pre-phone days). In hindsight, this perhaps was not the wisest, but it did work, and I named the kitten Bandit. He was a tuxedo cat, and he wanted nothing to do with us at all. He merely cohabitated with our space, and his presence before us was never more than a mere coincidence. He did not like to play or cuddle and was the feline equivalent of a reclusive old man. We came home one evening during my senior year of high school and found him dead at the foot of the stairs at the young age of five. I suppose he died as unceremoniously as he lived. I was devastated. 

A short time later, we were all stuck at home amidst the global pandemic, and I was very lonely. My mother’s co-worker had found a pregnant stray near her rural home and was looking for a home for the now five lively kittens. They were all adorable, but the Facebook photo of the tiny dilute calico with big green eyes melted me. We brought Blossom home on May 14. She is the friendliest, cuddliest cat in history to everyone but the veterinarian. She sleeps in my bed and follows me around the house anytime I am home, and for the first time in my life, I think I understand companionship.

Constants in my life

by Jayme Foltz

When I think of yearly themes, I think of things that are/were a constant in my life. Learning is constant and never-ending. Education is a societal norm for the majority. Everyone will have experienced this, but not in the same way. This is because there are different paths that can be taken to get results. Though the results aren’t the endgame because education and learning continue beyond our youth till the end of our days. These things helped me get where I am now and aided in my growth as a person.


by Hannah Sever

Time spent on TikTok over Christmas Break

by Ben Butcher