German politician Malte Spitz went to court in order to obtain all information that his cell phone carrier Deutsche Telekom had about his activity. The results astonished him. Over the course of five months, they had tracked his geographical location and what he was doing with his phone 35,000 times.
Working with the German newspaper Die Zeit, an infographic was created that shows Spitz’s activity across an interactive timeline. This screencast shows two days from it.
Via Die Zeit:
Most people’s understanding of what can actually be done with the data provided by our mobile phones is theoretical; there were few real-world examples. That is why Malte Spitz from the German Green party decided to publish his own data collected from August 2009 to February 2010. However, to even access the information, he had to file a suit against telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom.
The data, which ZEIT ONLINE has made available for download and acts as the basis for our accompanying interactive map, were contained in a massive Excel document. Each of the 35.831 rows of the spreadsheet represents an instance when Spitz’s mobile phone transferred information over a half-year period. Seen individually, the pieces of data are mostly inconsequential and harmless. But taken together, they provide what investigators call a profile – a clear picture of a person’s habits and preferences, and indeed, of his or her life.
This profile reveals when Spitz walked down the street, when he took a train, when he was in an airplane. It shows where he was in the cities he visited. It shows when he worked and when he slept, when he could be reached by phone and when was unavailable. It shows when he preferred to talk on his phone and when he preferred to send a text message. It shows which beer gardens he liked to visit in his free time. All in all, it reveals an entire life.
The interactive can be viewed here.
Originally posted on the Future Journalism Project.