7 free data dashboards that show all the information you need
We are living in the golden age of information. Not just because there is so much we can easily find at our fingertips but because there is such incredible potential to be generating relevant information as well. All for virtually free.
I'd like to share the most useful dashboards I've found thus far that reflect both of these capacities. I personally have used all of these (though not always all at once) to gather and view information that has been important if not vital to me and my well-being. And because I don't take the word "need" lightly, I've organized them according to Abraham Maslow's hierarchy, from most to least essential.
Your health - Fooducate app
It's hard to think of anything more important than our health. The Fooducate app not only tracks your diet but it also tracks your sleeping, physical activities, and feelings, so that you can begin to see patterns between them all. The paid version allows you to track specific dietary or weight goals for yourself, and there is also a community of users that share recipes. The daily dashboard logs calories consumed and spent, and a weekly dashboard shows the quality of those calories and more.
Your finances - Mint app
The Mint app is a great way to get a picture of your personal finances. Connect your accounts and see where your money is going, helping you create a realistic budget and know when you're exceeding it. It even shows you where your investments are. (Extra tip: FinViz offers a more macrocosmic view, providing visualizations of financial markets for research and analysis.) Additionally, the Mint Bills app helps you manage your payments.
Your relationships - The Boyfriend Log app
The Boyfriend Log app can be used to track your feelings for any relationship, not just romantic or intimate ones, allowing you to see patterns in a color coded monthly calendar. The basic idea is to both appreciate what's working and learn more about what isn't. You can also make notes that you can search later.
Your time and tasks - Google Calendar web/app
While there are lots of project management apps on the market, in this category at least I remain an analog girl, preferring pen and paper. The exception to this rule for me is Google Calendar which can aid both planning and tracking. I use colors to denote time spent on specific projects as well as short and long term goals. This provides me a picture of how I'm spending my precious resources of time on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You can easily share this information with others too.
Your world's cultures - Newsmap website
Newsmap is one of the websites that I find myself visiting most, not only to catch up on news headlines but to get a data-based perspective on what's being reported on the most. (Given my comments above you won't be shocked to hear that I am repeatedly saddened by how consistently health ranks low on that list.) You can also view news for other nations and compare it to our own.
Your world's geography - Google Earth web/app
It may appear that we are now venturing into categories of less-essential information. That is because we often forget that until relatively recent history humanity knew very little about Earth's geography and also that for that time this type of information was incredibly valuable to have. It is easy to take it for granted that now we not only can access maps of all regions of the world, but we can actually see photographic imagery as well - even from the depths of our oceans. This means the far-flung places that very few explorers might've once been lucky enough to see in a lifetime, we can now "visit" virtually in a matter of minutes. Google Earth allows users to view satellite imagery (including historical imagery) as well as street-level perspectives of places across the globe (including places a bit more off the beaten path like the Grand Canyon pictured below). I think this information not only fulfills our need for adventure and discovery, but also can help us more fully appreciate our Earth, our life support system.
Your Universe - 100,000 Stars website
For me this gallery would somehow feel incomplete without mention of astral bodies. The 100,000 Stars website allows you to tour the expanding Universe which we are a part of. "Do I really need this information?" you might be asking. Indeed, this may be one of the greatest unanswered questions in our information age: what exactly is the relationship between ourselves and the places far beyond comprehendible distances? I would assert, therefore, that these places and the bodies they contain do fulfill a need, albeit a less obvious one. The stars have for all of our history fulfilled a very human need: a need for mystery, for wonder, for awe. This website has thus become one of my favorite sites of all time.
Now I'd love to hear from you. What other informational dashboards or visual interfaces do you rely on? Travel forecasts? Sports scores? Analytics for your online business? Please leave a comment below to let myself and others know!
The images shown above are courtesy of the corresponding websites (and thus do not reflect my own personal nor any sort of relevant data).