Aside from some experiments with a photo memoir, most of my autobiographical work has so far only been about recalling memories, reading documents and writing texts — words, sentences, sections, chapters, a single story. And so it will remain. I’m a text person.
But I’ve also played with visualizations of the life course. A simple chart can sometimes say more than pages of words. Here, for example, is a diagram of my published academic articles, from the very first in 1967, when I was 20 years old, until 2018 (produced with Visual Paradigm (https://www.visual-paradigm.com).
Not many words are needed to show that my productive academic career culminated in my 50s and 60s and then went downhill. (The books show the same tendency – a peak at the age of 50-60 and then downhill).
Obviously, such visualizations do not capture the essential qualities of life — creativity, love, anxiety, you name it — but only captures measurable surface phenomena. However, they can be an quantitative complement to the qualitative rendering of the subjective life story. A kind of ‘digital autobiography’, analogous to ‘digital history’.
I am about to make similar visualizations of my unpublished lectures. Stay tuned.