Adventures of a Frequent Flyer – Methodology

We started with the example bee colony dataset that was included in the project suggestions. From there, we explored how bee populations have changed over time. It was clear from the data that bee populations have rebounded to a certain extend from their low points about 5 years ago. We explored what are the biggest risks facing bees, finding articles about pesticides, mites, and accidents related to the transport of bees in trucks.

Curious about the circumstances that led to 92,000 bees in a semitruck traveling on the California interstate highways, we discovered some interesting facts about migratory bees. Particularly, we were shocked with the scale and complexity involved to pollenate crops around the US. We found some data from the USDA to understand more concretely how bees travel throughout the country. The numbers were staggering both in terms of the market opportunity for commercial bees and the distance traveled by bees each year. While impressive, the numbers were so large, that they were hard to interpret and even harder to feel connected to at the local level. At first, we struggled to connect the story about the nationwide tours bees with the local impact an audience could feasibly enact.

The cascading effects of bee health are so large that lawmakers around the US have proposed legislation to protect pollinators. Washington state, for example, has enacted laws that protect bees from dangerous pesticides. Many other states, including Massachusetts, have proposals, but so far nothing has been signed into law. Since bees take long winding journeys throughout the country, it is possible that the proposed effects of new regulations could have an outsize effect on bees around the country. With this call to action, we survey possible delivery techniques to make our data relatable, actionable, and memorable. While the map we found online was interesting, it had extraneous information that didn’t focus on the story we wanted to tell.  Therefore, we created an abstract map that would highlight the same arduous paths for migratory bees, while removing details that were not central to our message.

To make our story understandable and memorable, we decided to employ a participatory game. We prompted users to make predictions and invited them to trace the paths that bees travel, highlighting important facts along the way that would confirm/reject their estimations. The game structure, in addition to engaging the user, helped us sequentially present a lot of information in a digestible manner. Steps in the game introduced new facts about the bees such as where particular fruits were in the US and the legislation(s) protecting bees in those areas. We aimed to fit the narrative arc of our story to the sequential nature of the game. Our combination of humor, abstraction, and interaction aims to entertain and inform users, creating a memorable experience with actionable next steps. Incorporating many of the ideas from throughout the semester, we hope that Adventures of a Frequent Flyer will connect with people in a way that news articles haven’t and influence people to consider important issues that might easily be overlooked otherwise.


Links to our data: