Data Viz: Donations to the Cyborg Reconstruction Fund

Portland Donation Amount by Location - Cyborg Reconstruction Fund

On March 17, 2010, I slipped on a slippery deck in Austin, Texas. It was the last day of the SXSW Interactive Conference, and it had been a long night.

I wanted to get outside to take a break from all of the madness, and I fell. I broke all of the bones in my ankle and was rushed to the emergency room. I didn’t feel any pain, and I thought that my ankle was simply sprained. It was not. The emergency room staff gave me a pair of crutches and told me how to walk on them. It was very difficult at first, but now I’ve gotten pretty good at them.

I woke up the next morning still in shock, so nothing hurt yet. My flight from Austin to Portland was later that afternoon, and I was determined to go home, even with a broken ankle. I took a few Tylenol and got to the airport with the help of Paige Saez and many others at the Social Media Clubhouse. When I got back to Portland I asked Twitter for an orthopedic surgeon. @pdxflaneur gave me the name of one and I scheduled surgery the next evening. I was checked into day surgery at 3 Pm and waited for surgery until 1Am. The waiting was the most difficult part.

Then, I became a Cyborg. Here’s an X-ray of what the orthopedic surgeon put into my ankle. The surgery was originally supposed to take 45 minutes, but when they opened up the sides of my ankle, they realized that all the bones had splintered into tiny pieces. The surgery ended up taking 4 hours. A lot of hardware was required to stabilize the bones while they healed back into place.

Amber Case's Cyborg ankle post-surgery

Right away, Vancouver-based photographer Kris Krug started the Cyborg Reconstruction Fund in an attempt to help defray medical costs. Once the word got out, the donations started rolling in. Aaron Parecki and I thought it might be fun to visualize the data.


The following images are visualizations of donations to the fund from March 20, 2010 to April 10, 2010. The data was taken from a PayPal Excel file and put into a SQL database based on location and amount of donation. The Google Maps API was used to place and visualize the donation data.

Bar Graph - Average Donations Per State Cyborg Reconstruction Fund

Here, we graphed the total amount of money donated by ‘state’. Oregon was in first place, with $1,200, followed by California, New York and Washington State. Note that this graph has some non-states as well, like British Columbia, London, Ontario, Quebec and Alcorcon (which is in Spain). Perhaps it could be called donations by territory instead.

Total National Donations Per State - Cyborg Reconstruction Fund

Here are the total donations per state. Oregon had the largest number of donations, but the average donation amount amount was less than the other states.

National Average Donation Amount Per Person - Cyborg Reconstruction Fund

This map shows the average donations per person by state. Washington and New York had the largest donation amount per person, but less donations overall. California followed, due to some awesome people in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

National Donation Amount Per Location - Cyborg Reconstruction Fund

This map shows donations by location and amount.The size of the circle shows the total volume of money donated. The circles are set at 50% opacity, so many donations overlapping (in the case of Portland) create a more opaque circle.

Portland Donation Amount by Location - Cyborg Reconstruction Fund

This map shows donations from Portland, Oregon. Portland had the highest number of donations, which makes a lot of sense. Portland is my local tech community! Everyone was kind and concerned about the injury. But there’s an issue on this map: circles float above people’s houses. This undermines personal data privacy. To fix this, the address data of donors was made ‘fuzzy’ in order to protect the confidential addresses of Paypal donors. The fuzziness was made by taking the latitude and longitude coordinates of each address and adding a random number to each.

Again, to everyone who has chipped in: thank you so much for all of your messages, your kindness and your support. The surgery actually cost more than twice the amount of the estimate that shown on the donation site. I applied for financial support from the hospital system, so things should turn out okay in the end. If it wasn’t for all of you, I wouldn’t have been able to pay the necessary bills required at the hospital. All of you made that possible. You helped purchase a walking boot, X-rays, appointments and checkups, local anesthesia, food, and pain medication. You got me through.

And you’ve all made me feel connected to this community in a much different way than ever experienced before. I’m honored to know so many incredible people. Thanks again for your amazing connectivity and efforts.

A Great Big Thank You

It turns out that it does “Take a Village to Build Cyborg”. Thanks again to the wonderful Vancouverites Kris Krug, Danielle Sipple, Dave Olson, Jason Saunders, and Robert Scales. Thanks to Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells for providing support and help with getting some funding and insurance. Thanks to Ponzi Pirillo for the delicious sandwiches and multiple rides to the hospital. I couldn’t have fallen in a better place. I couldn’t imagine falling alone.

Thanks to Paige Saez for helping me at the airport, through security, for carrying my stuff and keeping me company on the long plane ride from Austin to Portland. Thanks to Sheldon Renan for bringing me comics and soup and providing continuous council. Thanks to Brian K. for bringing ferns with microchips in them to my hospital room. Thanks to Ian Carmany for dealing with impossible hospital room waits and a whole lot of other things.

A very special thanks to Abraham Hyatt, Igal Koshevoy, Chris Pirillo, Audrey Eschright, Linda Canavan, Anne Buckley, Valdis Krebs, Orian Marx, Kate Bornstein, Susan Farrell and Spary Dauterman.

Enormous thanks to Periscopic, SalaamGarage, and Bo McFarland.

While I can’t mention everyone, I made an effort to personally thank everyone by E-mail. If you didn’t get an E-mail from me, please let me know! I want to make sure that I thanked you! It’s very important.

Still want to donate?

This donate link will take you directly to PayPal.


Amber Case, (@caseorganic) is a Cyborg Anthropologist studying the interaction between humans and computers and how our relationship with information is changing the way we think, act, and understand the world around us. She’s obsessed with compressing the space and time it takes to get data from one place to another, especially when the final destination is the mind.