Storytelling with data: the Ultimate Music Festival Experience

This week I got a newsletter in my mailbox from the Storytelling with Data website. They asked to share a project for their monthly challenge: collect, analyse and visualise your own dataset. With a call to action like that, I just need to participate with the project I've been working on the last couple of months: I collected data on the ultimate festival experience through In this blog I will share my journey to collect and analyse these data. But first the result!
Click here for a zoomable view.

My inspiration came from festival maps and block schedules used at festivals. The size of the squares represent the total number of votes for each festival (a deconstructed treemap). If you follow the map from left to right you will visit the festivals in the order of decreasing votes. 

Every cirkel is a vote. The colour indicates how often that artist has been voted for in total (the darker the colour, the more votes). A pink outline means that it's a highlighted story. If the votes were for the same concert (same festival and year) they are grouped in a grey cirkel. 

In the end, the stories are the most interesting part of the dataset, so I tried to find a way to both convey the data and share the stories behind the entries. To really focus on the stories, I want to make this map interactive, but with my beginner programming skills that will take a while (any ideas or suggestions to make this interactive with limited time, please let me know!). For now I highlighted 6 stories in the data that I found interesting:

The block schedule is still in the ideation phase. It should give an overview of the most popular artists in the different years, but it still needs some work!

Please share your own thoughts on this project or how you visualise experiences.

So how did this project start?

In the summer of 2018 I was preparing for maternity leave and had some time to spare. I'm not sure why, but instead of taking the time to mentally prepare for childbirth,  I decided to do a dataviz project on a subject I love: music festivals. 

Data detective 

Finding an interesting dataset was a real challenge. You would expect that being pregnant might improve your likability factor, but nobody wanted to share their data with me! Then I remembered an appeal made by Jerry Vermanen, a Dutch data journalist: we should try and collect more data ourselves.

I got in contact with Stephan Okhuijsen, an expert in collecting data. I knew some of his projects, especially the one where he collected data on the price of concert tickets. With his help I started a no-budget social media campaign: share your ultimate festival experience with me through www.mijnfestivalervaring.nlThe first entries I got were from friends, family and colleagues. After some time more and more entries were from people I didn't know.

2 minutes of fame

During the collection proces, the Dutch radio station 3 FM broadcasted a show called the Festival top 999. I asked them if I could explain my festival data collection project during the show to get some exposure.
I had just picked up my order of Indian food and was walking home when they called me that I was on the air. Being almost 9 month pregnant at that time, walking was a challenge and I was completely out of breath. I sat down on the nearest bench and pitched my project. I was over the moon with the radio exposure and the pitch went quite well! Surprisingly this resulted in exactly 0 extra entries. However, when listening to the show I noticed that the radio dj's asked a similar question to the people who voted for the songs in the top 999: what was your favourite festival song? This often resulted in stories about ultimate festival experiences. So I started documenting the ultimate festival stories on the radio as well.

I had set my goal on 100 entries and ended up with 129. Not a major accomplishment, but it was enough for what I wanted to build.

Lowlands as the Ultimate Festival?

Exploring the data, there were a couple of things that stood out. Lowlands had the most votes for the ultimate festival but Pinkpop had a lot of specific concerts that got a lot of votes. I found that most entries were from recent years. Are we short of memory or have festivals and artist gotten better? I also found that the personal stories were most interesting to read. How could I visualise those?

By that time my baby really wanted to get out, so I had to put the project on hold. However, a lot of people took the time and effort to share their experiences with me, I couldn't leave them waiting for me to get back on my feet without leaving them some kind of reminder that I hadn't abandoned the project! So I made this small teaser viz.

So where am I now?
My son was born, I enjoyed my maternity leave and I got back to work as a freelancer at the end of 2018. Unfortunately for my Festival Project I got a new assignment fairly quick, so I have to work on my festival project in my spare time and that doesn't work too well. The Storytelling with Data challenge gave me a new drive to finally make a version of the dataviz that has been in my head for a while now (and is the reason this blog is in English). I will share my design proces in another blog with you and an interactive version as soon as I find the time to build it!