Contest: Your Annual Report

[Update: the final contestants & the winners]

The judges are pleased to bring you this blog’s second design contest. May you find this assignment, first and foremost, an opportunity for reflection and self-diagnosis at the end of 2007. The prizes and competition are secondary and incidental. They exist only to push forward the amateur designer who seems most inclined towards professional design.


  1. Design information in four ways to represent 2007 as you experienced it. This can mean:
    • four separate PowerPoint slides with one design apiece,
    • one JPEG with four designs gridded onto it,
    • an Excel spreadsheet inset with four charts,
    • etc.

    Feel free to use pies, bars, dots, bubbles, sparklines, stacks, or designs of your own construction.

  2. Submit your designs. Either:
  3. Post your reflections either:
    • in the comments here, or
    • at your own blog.

Illustrative Examples

  1. This slide, representing my music intake over 2007, comprises two designs, a bar chart and an ordered list:
  2. This page, representing Nicholas Felton’s travel habits in 2005, comprises four designs.


  • Sunday, January 13, 23h59, Pacific Standard Time




  • You own your slides, though we’ll post them here (attributed) and, in all likelihood, pick several apart.

How We Got Here

  1. The 2006 Feltron Annual Report, Nicholas Felton
  2. The 2005 Feltron Annual Report, Nicholas Felton
  3. Who Is Nicholas Felton?, Dan Meyer
  4. Information Design: Syllabus, Dan Meyer
  5. The New Division of Labor, Levy and Murnane
  6. The contest organizer’s raving conviction that assignments like these will be essential to math and language education in the 21st century.
  7. The contest organizer’s nagging suspicion that, in ten years time, his raving conviction will look either eerily prescient or (more likely) totally obvious.
I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the contest was going to be based on yesterday’s post. Now the pressure is on—what if we had a boring year? Can we make stuff up? Can we claim celebrity status? Can we wait til you post then copy/paste? Is the winner from last contest exempt? This is very stressful.

  2. my crazy january to-do list just got longer…
    +get over jet lag (second time in a month)
    +mark semester exams
    +determine semester grades
    +write out individual student comments
    +pull together another entry into dan’s design contest

    who cares about prescient or education – the last one was so much fun to enter i’m joining again!

    ps scott gets two votes?

  3. What if I’m all ‘thinking about design’, but saddled with an inability to convert thought to creation?


    Maybe, like Duffy Moon, I can close my eyes, puff my cheeks, and say, “You can do it, Duffy Moon” and then, like an after-school special, I’ll pull it all together and create something absolutely dazzling.

    bonus points if you remember Duffy Moon.

  4. > What if I’m all ‘thinking about design’, but saddled with an inability to convert thought to creation?

    Don’t do it to win – do it to do it. Ii suspect the problem isn’t whether you can do it at all, but whether you can do it well enough that you’d feel comfortable showing it to anyone else (much less the world). You’re not going to get to that point if you don’t take the first step.

    So throw the data into excel. Have it draw a graph. Decide what you hate about the graph, and fix that. Already you’ll be ahead of 80% of the data presenters out there.

  5. Nancy, I think the coolest part of this project is finding interest and beauty in the tedium. I spent at least 90% of my year parked behind a table at a coffee shop.

    So for my slides I’m developing a graph of my output behind that desk – words, pictures, & video.

    The winners from last contest, Ethan and Paul, have been converted into judges.

    In any case, Mr. K is right on. The point isn’t winning the thing, it’s the thing itself.

    PS. Jeffrey, got that typo fixed, thanks.

  6. Any limits on interactivity or animation? Still 4 designs, but with some interactivity (ie. zooming or hover). Or, must we once again keep it printable.

    If not, I’m thinking of breaking out the Javascript.

  7. Run with it, Arthus. The judges, as I’m sure you’re aware, will give preference to signal over noise, no matter the medium.

  8. I’m done and just sent you an e-mail. The hardest part was remebering my media consumption choices… luckily I’m a create of habit so it’s not to hard to retrace my steps.

  9. I sent my entry as a mail attachment. Since I keep no details on my personal life whatsoever I had to resort to comedy. The four elements are:

    The word-association chart (with key)
    The line graph
    The scatterplot
    The highly revealing list of (2) data points