Hello! It seems like I’m getting into a routine of posting an annual message about what I have (or haven’t) been working on in the last year. Well, here we are again!

Since changing jobs back in 2021 and starting up freelance with The Markup, I’ve found myself with less time for side projects. This, however, hasn’t stopped me from coming up with a plethora of ideas for projects that sit in notebooks and Notion pages and to-do lists. I do find some time here or there where I’ll start something, write code or analyze data for a few hours, and then lose steam because the project was bigger than expected, outcomes weren’t as interesting as expected, or just, ya know, life.

I actually asked the team over at The Pudding about this a few years ago, which prompted them to write this post, which I think does a great job to outline an aspirational approach to answer the question of when to continue, pivot, or put down on a project. I found myself doing a lot of putting down for the sake of time availability, but today I’m hoping to embrace the continue and pivot parts a bit more!

I was starting projects and then stopping because I struggled to materialize my work into a more polished story that felt warranted of a whole new page on my website. But sometimes the real treasures are the real friends we made (read as, code / data analysis I wrote) along the way. So, in the spirit of lowering the bar, I’m going to start putting some smaller and/or partial projects over on Notion and I’ll periodically share a combined update with them here.

So, to kick it off, here’s a collection of smaller projects that I have been working on in the last few years that felt like they needed wrapping up:

  1. Inspired by my fiancée’s “California” playlist, I used Spotify’s API to see how often artists are making songs about each U.S. state. TL;DR: New York takes the top spot! => check it out on Notion or Observable.
  2. Inspired by this tweet from John Dickerson, I decided to explore how often “split ticket senators” (e.g., Republican senators elected in years where their state voted for a Democrat for president) appear in recent history. More to explore here, but unsurprisingly, we’re at an all-time low in recent years! => check it out on Notion.
  3. Since I’ve used Letterboxd for close to 5 years now, I’ve been curious to know who my “secret favorite” filmmakers are, or the filmmakers for whom I’ve watched a surprisingly large share of their overall work. That led me down a rabbit hole of scraping lots of film meta data from Letterboxd and ultimately introduced me to the work of John Morris, Joonas Suotamo, and Mel Blanc => check it out on Notion
  4. For many years now, I’ve been very interested in the prevalence of good quality captions on YouTube. In an effort to find out how often popular videos have auto- vs. human-generated captions, I wrote a whole bunch of code to scrape this informaiton from YouTube. After generating a bunch of data, I ultimately put the project on hold, but you can check out my thoughts on the project on Notion
  5. I wrote a mildly successful tutorial on using d3-force for graph simulations, which led me to work on a bunch of small experiments with custom forces. You can check them out on Observable.
  6. A came across a TikTok a few years ago that highlighted how Clinton, G.W. Bush, Trump, and Biden were also born within a few years of each other, which was quite surprising to me. I decided to explore the presidential timeline a bit, which you can check out on Notion
  7. I really, really liked Harry Steven’s Observable notebook outlining his approach for intelligently labeling lines in a plot, so for my own educational purposes, I decided to recreate it in my own tutorial. Feel free to check it out on Observable

That’s all for now - see y’all again in a year (or hopefully sooner)!