The Agency of Decay is a death clock.
If I tell you the average life span in the United States is 78 years, what would that mean to you?
Would it be just another number?
What would you think of?
To me the number doesn't mean much; that's how I feel when I'm presented with this type of statistic.
That is why I decided to visually quantify my life, and compare it to various other lifespans.
I created a tool to redefine lifespan from a number I could not comprehend, and translated it into digital space.
I now was aware that within a few inches or bars, statistically speaking, I would be dead.
I fell into deep reflection about what I had done and what I could accomplish with the time I had remaining.
Seeing the translation from a spoken number to a visual representation of my imminent death was a powerful experience. So I decided to share my visualization: my death clock.
I wanted to inspire others to take agency over the time they have left to live, and work on things that truly matter to them.
Process and Rationale
The number one question I get about this project is, "why weeks?".
In regards to the numeric value I chose to display for the amount of time a person had remaining, I had my own gut instinct, but I spoke with many people to get confirmation and tested a several sample grids before I was able to validate my ideas.
In short: from a psychological standpoint, weeks represents the time-frame that is the most simple to mentally rationalize with.
Most people's schedules are too dynamic to frame.
- One day is too concrete.
Most people can't imagine their lives in a year.
- It's too far in the future. It's too abstract.
Most people can frame goals/ideas each week.
- Weeks is the ideal time-frame. It's just right.
Final Design and Translating Space
What if you only had an inch of life left to live?
For the final visualization portion, my goal was to translate numbers to digital space. Each bar of my grid was comprised of 52 individual boxes, equivalent to one year of life. The entire grid spanned 122 bars, equivalent to the age of the longest living person ever, a French woman named Jeanne Calment. The squares filled up dynamically based on the users own input; their date of birth.
Feedback Loops and Exploration
My aim was to use simple interactions to leave a powerful and lasting impression on people, and inspire online conversation.
By introducing exploratory analysis options such as correlating the amount of sitting a person does each day, or the impact smoking has on someone's lifespan, I was able to create a double feedback loop that changed human behavior.
I was humbled by the response. It exceeded my expectations by becoming a double looped learning model/example for others who used it in their presentations at design conferences.
— Christopher Sopher (@cksopher)
— Brian Fountain (@fountain)
— Miriam (@miriam_leia)