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Meet the blogging ‘parenting nerds’ using data viz to help them raise their kids

The Social Larsons is a Delaware blog all about parenting and data visualization. We recommend it.

Lynsey and Dan Larson moved from their store to a blog about data visualization and parenting. (Screenshot)

Lynsey and Dan Larson are two Dover residents who started a baby boutique on Lockerman Street in the small town. They built a community and developed a following, but the store wound up being too much work without enough return.
So, they did what most entrepreneurial minded folks do and they pivoted. The store was Lynsey’s dream, the pair told us over the phone, but their next venture would strike out into something Dan loved.
Data.
Lynsey and Dan run a relatively new blog in Delaware called The Social Larsons. The site’s subtitle really says it all: “A Data Driven Lifestyle.” These parents collect seemingly mundane data from their own lives and the lives of their readers in order to create gorgeous and often hilarious data visualizations.

Dan and Lynsey charted the top baby names in Delaware for #NetDE.

Dan and Lynsey charted the top baby names in Delaware for #NetDE. (Courtesy photo)


“Data has become a design problem, 100 percent,” Dan told us. “We have so much data, and the problem: how do you design it to make sense? So, if you look out there, designers are taking over the data scene.”
“There are still the technical nerds like me who have to pull that information and put it into tables,” Dan went on, “but mostly the ones creating the visualizations online are designers. They’re web designers, or they’re artists. They’re not the ones that understand all that much about statistics, but they’re good at design.”
That’s Lynsey. She received a degree in graphic and interactive design from Moravian College. She’s getting better at the statistics and data stuff simply because her data nerd husband Dan is slowly piquing her interest. But Lynsey? Lynsey’s the one behind the fantastic visualizations.
It’ll start with Dan, the pair told us, doing up some horrible looking, sloppy yet inspired graph or chart on a whiteboard. Then Lynsey asks Dan to leave (so she doesn’t offend him) and then she’ll get to work at making something that looks really good.
And it relates to parenting. If you have kids, then there’s a pretty good chance you’ve found yourself reading parenting blogs and the so-called “mom blogs” at two in the morning as your little one screams their face off, thanks to teething.
The problem with a lot of those blogs is that they tend to center around negativity and mixed advice. We offered that opinion up to Dan and Lynsey on the call, and they both agreed.
“I enjoy reading tons of ‘Mom Blogs,’” Lynsey responded. “But it’s just really easy to be like ‘Oh, I love wine because my kids drive me crazy.’ I totally get that. We just want to look at it more like it’s a journey instead of it being exhausting and weighing you down. … I mean, we’re totally exhausted, but…”
So, the pair started their site. “Even as we were finishing with the store and moving on,” Lynsey told us, “we realized that we’re, you know, we’re parenting nerds.”
They’re parenting nerds with unique skillsets in data collection, analytics and graphic design. They got to work considering the way they parent through data. It’s so nerdy and adorable.
Lynsey told us that they “want to know how other people are doing this. We want to know about how other parents deal with gender roles or kindness or whatever else.”
The Larsons analyzed how often their kids said their names over 12 hours.

The Larsons analyzed how often their kids said their names over 12 hours. (Courtesy photo)


“So, now, all of our data visualizations end up being like the one we did about how many times in a 12-hour period did the kids say our names and why.”
They’re using that gathered data to actually make decisions about the way they’re raising their kids. Early on in the conversation, we talked about the lifestyle of trying to avoid gender stereotyping with your young kids. The pair looked at how gender influences which of their son and daughter pair asks which parent-specific questions, and that stuff is fascinating.
“We noticed, for instance, with the mommy and daddy visualization,” Dan began, “when our kids say ‘mommy’ or they say ‘daddy,’ it’s normally for different reasons. How can we use that to—”
“Manipulate them!” Lynsey interrupted, the pair of them laughing. “How can we collect data and visualize it in a way that gives us all the answers we need to raise our children?”
The Social Larsons is all about taking seemingly mundane parenting and lifestyle data and compiling it into useful and understandable visualizations, and they’re succeeding.
They’re even starting to think about offering data visualization as a service. “How can we offer this to small businesses?” Lynsey rhetorically asked us at one point.
The Larsons attended the 1 Million Cups event in Dover. That event is dedicated, really, to two things: coffee and networking for local entrepreneurs with startups. Lynsey spoke at the event. She talked about what they’re doing with data and their site, and the people at the event told her stuff like “Man, data visualization is cool.”
“People think it’s way cooler than I guess I anticipated,” Lynsey explained. “It’s just one other thing that small business can’t really do on their own. We’ve been there. We’ve had a small, physical business where it’s all you can do to just get there every day. I think people are starting to see that this combination of design and data visualization could be a tool for them.”
Lynsey and Dan think there’s something they can offer small business when it comes to data visualization. Whether it’s for marketing, internal research or the disbursement of information, Dan and Lynsey think they can strike out into the small business world and offer their services.
The duo is hard at working combining their unique skills into an entertaining, informative and inspiring blog. If it works out and they can monetize it, they’ll push forward. If not, then they’ll pivot again with one another’s support. They’re the type capable of that.

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