As cliché as it may be, I’m as guilty as anyone for turning to the weather in those awkward elevator conversations with my neighbors. Politics is dangerous, and there’s no way I remember their kids’ names to ask about them, but it’s always easy to find common ground about the weather--especially when it’s sweltering or freezing outside. Evidently, we have similar practices online.
Each year, Dutch design studio CLEVER°FRANKE closes their doors on client projects to work on a job of their own, a nod to their C°F namesake that always involves the weather.
“This degree symbol served as the point of departure for the design of our visual identity: two researchers who, within the same field, each found a different approach and reference points,” shares studio cofounder Thomas Clever. “Our first studio location was situated next to the Dutch Meteorological Institute so the idea came up to visualize meteorological data and we stuck to it.
And this year, they compared 714,843 online messages about the weather to official reports from the Institute and charted it on this incredible radial map. Every day of the year has its own axis, plotting wind speed, temperature, sunshine, and precipitation, and on top of all that, we see that weather rated on its meteorologically official 1-10 scale.
On top of all that, Ai-Applied stepped in to analyze the 700,000+ messages from various websites and social media blurbs from each day on a 1-10 scale of its own. The result is a staggering weather calendar, and a somewhat depressing lesson on human nature.
“We tend to be predominantly more negative about the weather than positive,” shares Clever. “Our weather chart of this year provides several interesting observations; sunshine is prominent in the way most people rate the weather. The correlation between sunshine and weather sentiment is stronger than the correlation between weather rating and sentiment. So people are more likely to say something positive online about the weather, when the sun is out.”
That last point makes sense. How many of us battle bouts of SAD with light boxes, or at least find ourselves waking easier or more energetic when it’s sunny out? And when you combine that with our tendencies to share any bad experience in general--think about how many more people you tell about a truly horrid restaurant experience versus a really great one--it makes sense that we devolve into a bunch of curmudgeonly commenters that point out a shiny sun like cavemen pointing to a god. Then again, maybe there’s a bit of hope for us all yet.
“The weather chart caught on in the media in the Netherlands,” Clever writes. “Even though it provides relatively simple insights, it shows that people like getting these insights.” And maybe such insights will enable us all to admit, the weather really isn’t that bad now, is it?