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December 30, 2015

Dear Data Two | Week 37: Swearing

Well wasn't this an interesting topic...SWEARING! When we moved from Georgia to California, we all noticed a lot more swearing. Then when we moved from California to London, we noticed another uptick.

It was interesting paying attention to the swearing I heard around me. I know I definitely changed my behaviour this week knowing that I was tracking myself. That's been one of the outcomes I didn't expect from this project; changing my behaviour knowing I have to report on myself. Yet this week, I still swore the most. I'm chalking this up to me being with myself all of the time.

The most fun part of this week was a Christmas party we went to on Sunday. I was covertly recording all of the swear words I heard. Naturally, as people drank more, the swearing increased. Then they caught me tracking them. And the game changed. They starting blurting out swear word after swear word, knowing I couldn't possibly keep up with the tracking. So, I ignored that noise and only recorded "natural" swears.

As for the postcard, if it didn't take so long to create, I would have re-created it. I wish I had spaced out the words better for a less cluttered effect.

I'm incredibly curious to see how Jeffrey reacts to this. He was a great sport about my drinking card, given that he doesn't drink. And I've never heard him swear. Is this project changing his opinion of me? He certainly knows way more about me than he ever did before.

Check out my analysis below to see how I interpreted what the data was telling me.


  1. Fascinating stuff. One question that keeps popping up as I read these posts is how have you trained yourself to log all of these data points, especially ones like for this week where you're extracting words spoken both to you and around you. I'd imagine it would be very hard to do that without either a) not talking to anyone and being the creepy stranger observing people, or b) losing a bit of your mind as you try to count words while still holding conversations.

    I'm guessing you just get better at it with practice (like anything), but I was really curious if there are any tricks you've learned that make this kind of data collection a bit easier. Thanks!


    1. The data collection is absolutely the hardest part. I set up a google sheet for each week before the week starts. I then do my best to capture as much as I can, knowing that I definitely miss some things. Now, for a topic like swearing or urban wildlife, etc the topic seems to get moved to the front of my mind for the week so I think that's why I can capture all that I can. My brain plays tricks on me to remember what to track.

    2. With trying to remember things that happen during a conversation, I make mental notes, look at a clock, and repeat it to myself to try to help me recall it for logging as soon as I can. I don't remember them all though. Again, I suspect it has something to do with the conscious mind.

    3. I guess it's like any kind of need to really focus, prepare and condition your muscles to respond the way you want them to. The data collection during conversations is pretty impressive...once you're done being a data guru, you might want to try your hand at journalism. You'd be a wicked good interviewer. :-)

  2. Don't know how I missed this one before. I love it, and, as per usual, love the insight into your process!