Today I’ll discuss do-it-yourself charts I use to track growth for my daughters.
First, a brief summary for new visitors. A few years ago I started tracking key aspects of my family’s day-to-day well-being. You can browse the full list of variables I am tracking here. I use this data to conduct casual exploration and N-of-1 experimentation to address issues and opportunities affecting my family’s growth, health and happiness.
I use Microsoft’s excellent PowerBI data visualization tool to mine through the data and create visualizations that make sense to me and my family.
For example, see these growth charts comparing height and weight for my three daughters to CDC growth standards (see figure 1 and 2.)
I’ve added a few elements to make these charts easier to understand. First, I needed to plot the CDC Growth Chart averages as a reference point. These datasets contain the percentile averages for height, weight and other growth variables, for each month of growth, across a diverse sample of the population. In his data visualization book, Now You See It, Stephen Few talks about the role of pre-attentive attributes in preparing the user’s focus during the visualization. For these growth charts, I used color and shape (dotted lines) to highlight the range of percentile groupings and gently ‘push’ them to the background. In plotting the actual values for my daughters’ height and weight, I emphasized this line (solid red), allowing it to ‘call’ for our attention while also comparing values to the CDC averages. PowerBI supports the features to configure pre-attentive attributes this way. In addition, it allows me to easily create, publish and access these charts from the web, on my mobile phone and in a secure way.
And this is quite helpful when providing context in general discussions with our pediatrician.
 My self-tracking projects are powered by ostlog – an open-source Personal Well-being Library