Who Is Nicholas Felton?

You and your family sent out a Christmas postcard. Jose Vilson blogged his year-end reflection. Corporations and businesses also play your game, issuing annual reports to their shareholders, detailing their rises and falls, quantifying successes and qualifying failures, telling the stories of their fiscal years through pictures, words, and charts.

Nicholas Felton is an individual, a graphic designer, but he takes the corporate route, obsessively tracking his vital statistics throughout the calendar year,

  • where he ate,
  • where he traveled,
  • media he consumed,
  • media he produced,
  • text messages he sent,
  • e-mails he received,
  • etc.,

issuing one of the design world’s most bespoke articles at each year’s end.

You are a shareholder in his life and flipping through his annual report is not an optional assignment for dy/dan readers. The 2006 edition, for example, includes information design grails such as this page of pie charts, ordered and unordered lists, detailing the food he ate over 2006:

or this scatter plot of drinks he consumed throughout the year:

Nicholas Felton stands alongside Andrew Kuo as a patron saint of my Information Design course. Both make their idiosyncratic preferences and activities accessible to large populations through a) articulate self-reflection and b) precise mathematical structures.

So do you see it? Do you SEE how this brings us all together? Math & Language? Old School & New School? Do you have another math class on your master schedule that’ll spawn as many writers and designers as engineers and statisticians?

All you School 2.0, future of learning, 21st-century educator-types, please, please, come back. I’ve found the flag I can fly for you. This flag. And I need you to get crazy about it with me.

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. PS. How this post applies to our forthcoming design competition (announced tomorrow) should come as a surprise to no one.

  2. hi dan

    i’ve been following your posts for a couple of months now & am really impressed with how you think outside of the box!

    i’ve been teaching english and history for almost as long as you’ve been alive (if that baby-face pic is anything to go by!) and am keen to find a twist especially one related to using technology with my classes.

    this idea of graphing our vital stats is one that definitely appeals to me i am currently digesting it to find a way to use it with one or several of my classes….early thoughts are to do with tracking stats about time online & doing what or time reading and what was read or something more interesting!!

    congrats on your energy & passion for teaching your kids must just love your classes….

    :-) lgw

  3. Thanks for the link, my good man. I love the information design stuff, but in some ways I’m also trying to wrap my head around how to be that creative in the 6th grade classroom. I’m sure there’s good ideas, but I’ll have to see. As usual, informative post.

  4. Oh no! I wasnt intending to offend you – was meant more as a mark of respect for the wisdom of your approaches to teaching. You have my apologies.

  5. well i guess this is where my years of experience come into play – at last!!

    seriously tho you have some gr8 ideas . come teach downunder – i’ll let you have the room next to mine so you can thump the wall and disrupt my classes as payback ;-)