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Data Viz News [16]

All the links you'll need for a true 'data viz' weekend

July 20, 2013

For this week’s post, we really thought that we’d be short in material to recommend, being Summer vacation time  in the North Hemisphere and all. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and we even introduced a new sub-division just for data journalism related posts, because the interest on this topic is certainly on the rise.

This week, the big data viz events return, with SIGGRAPH2013, now in its 40th edition. You should definitively keep an eye on  the world’s premier conference and exhibition on computer graphics and interactive techniques – just follow #SIGGRAPH2013 on Twitter. And we are constantly updating our data visualization events calendar, so feel free to send over your event (workshop, course, seminar, etc), and we’ll be happy to promote it in this space as well.

Here are this week’s recommended links:



Latest product launches and business announcements, career moves, data visualization competitions and general news.

CartoDB, a leading provider of cloud-based mapping and data visualization tools on the web, announced the formation of its Advisory Board, and the appointment of Chris Holmes to the board. Chris is the Founder of OpenGeo. He is also a Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI) Board Member, an Open Internet Tools Project Steering Committee Member, and is member of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Board of Directors. Here are some of his words from the press release:

I’m excited to be the first member of CartoDB’s advisory board and look forward to working with the team Javier and Sergio have assembled,” said Holmes. “I have known the team for years, and this is a particularly exciting time for CartoDB, as they’ve built the most user-friendly geospatial software I’ve ever seen, by putting design first, open sourcing everything, and focusing solely on the web. CartoDB has been contributing great improvements to the open source geospatial community and I look forward to work with them for its wider market adoption.


Business Intelligence software provider, Tableau, released their online version, making it now possible to host data analytics in the cloud. To celebrate, the company organized several happy hour meet-ups at cities across the world.

Tableau software
(image: Tableau Online)


The Master in Graphic Information Design of IED Barcelona aims to provide visual communication strategies that allow the emission of contents (information) in a clearer, more efficient and more attractive manner on several platforms. For further information, click here and download the study plan.

Using information from a pool of 300 volunteers in the Seattle metro area, Adam Sadilek, formerly of Microsoft, and John Krumm, a principal researcher at Microsoft, developed Far Out, the first system of its kind to predict long-term human mobility in a unified way, parse the data. The full study can be found here (pdf)

The result of years of mathematics research at Stanford, Ayasdi’s approach to data has brought in a slew of big-time clients in just six months of operation, and the company has just announced a new round of investments, led by Institutional Venture Partners, The inclusion of Citigroup and General Electric’s institutional venture shops announces Ayasdi’s strategic entry into two major new verticals, financial services and manufacturing.

Esri and the Institute of Fire Engineers—USA (IFE) have partnered to improve fire prevention planning through the use of simple risk analysis capabilities that include computer mapping and demographic analysis. The Vision 20/20 project and Esri will be announcing the rollout of this program in the coming months.



A selection of recent articles published by experts in data visualization, cartography, business analytics and visual journalism, among other topics.

Freelance dataviz designer EJ Fox, proposes the creation of a space such as Hack News for the data visualization community, a central directory for new projects, criticism, making-of stories, or news relevant to our growing industry.

Brian takes on the recent visualization created by popular commenting platform Disqus (we mentioned it here). As usual, he leaves several suggestions to improve the visualization, and mentions the well-known Wall Street Journal’s Political Moneyball as a benchmark.

Cool Infographics continues to host infographic and data visualization experts, that offer their view of what makes an infographic ‘cool’. Periscopic‘s Kim Rees and Dino Citaro are the latest guests.

When we begin to discern between graphical representations of data and actual visualizations of data, we become better data consumers and better knowledge creators. There is a place for Digital Posters, it’s just not the same place as Infographics.

A reflection on the role of text in data visualization interpretation, by Enrico Bertini. Besides bringing important concepts into context, Enrico discusses the lack of academic research on many of the textual elements that can be used in data visualization, including labeling.

Based upon NASA’s 2002 Blue Marble map of the world, Google’s newly-released map, a massive collage of recent satellite images, offers a level of resolution far beyond the capability of its predecessor. In this post, the folks of the World Land Trust-US explain the impacts the new images will have on WLT-US’ conservation efforts.

Kaiser Fung demonstrates the practical aspects of Andrew Gelman’s post about ‘causal thinking’, a topic Fung also approaches in his recently released book, Numbersense.

Direct Relief was honored with the 2013 President’s Award from Esri, for outstanding use of mapping software known as geographic information systems (GIS) at the Esri International User Conference, and in this post Andrew Schroeder, Director of Research and Analysis, talks about the impacts this mapping technology has brought to the field.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographicDirect Relief Aid Map
(Direct Relief Aid Map)



The most recent articles with tips, insights and best practices around data journalism.

A list of arguments by Jake Harris on why using tweets as data is less-than-ideal, especially for journalists. Jake shares some of his own experience, trying to develop interesting visualizations from Twitter data.

A huge guide for newsrooms interested in making that transition to the ‘new’ digital reality. Here you’ll find the major digital tools and trends that are disrupting the news industry and changing the way journalists do their jobs.

Practical tips from data journalism expert Paul Bradshaw, author of The Online Journalism Handbook. This presentation was given at the BBC Fusion Data Day, New Broadcasting House, July 2013.



Recent articles related to the wide range of data visualization applications for business analytics, as well as content surrounding the “Big Data” buzz.

Mark Hunter shares his thoughts on the increasing difficulty of finding professional data skilled people (including data scientists) that gather all the qualities and skills demanded by the market. He listed those requirements, and references the ‘infamous’ 2011 McKinsey prediction as an alert.

As the demand for data visualization solutions in the corporate world evolve, organizations should keep these seven pieces of advice in mind when considering data visualization packages. The article was written by Ted Smalley Bowen.

Debates around Big Data in the private sector have devolved into an existential struggle between two camps: one which believes that privacy is dead and profit is king, and one which fears that any reuse of data beyond the original purpose for which it was collected is a potential threat to privacy and civil liberties. In this article, Robert Kirkpatrick introduces a third dimension: Big Data as a raw public good, that leads to the concept of ‘data philanthropy’

Paul Barsch brings some examples of the value of analytics beyond shareholder value creation, and suggests that “perhaps it’s time to look at the worth analytics can bring through a broader and more significant lens of improving societal value, and not just shareholder profits.”



Insights from well-known names in the data visualization field, published during last week.

Liliana Bounegru spoke to Guido Romeo (Wired Italy), the journalist who led the creation of one of the data journalism projects shortlisted in the Data Journalism Awards, Check Your Hospital, an interactive map that enables readers to check mortality rates for 19 different causes in 1.200 hospitals across Italy.

In a new interview of the series of Q&As with some of the best artists working with maps (more Q&As here), Jimmy Thomson talks with Ross Racine, who’s artwork takes us on an aerial trip above bleak, endless, imaginary suburbs.

We’ve already mention this interview earlier in the week, in which Anthony Robinson, geographer at Penn State, talks about the world’s first digital-mapping MOOC and also about his work and career.

A quick talk by Nicholas Felton for the Felton gave a two-day workshop in May, and this video was just made available:



Ranging from tutorials and presentations, to lists of tools and practical guidelines for creating effective data visualizations.

A total of six reports were made available for free at the O’Reilly Strata website. Most of these reports are focused on Big Data and Data Science, and include the best data insights from O’Reilly editors, authors, and Strata speakers.

Minsun Mini Kim, Interaction Design Fellow at Innovation Unit, spent two weeks in June with the emergency team at the West and Central Africa Regional Office to provide data visualization support. During that time, he gave a webinar about data visualization tips to the Humanitarian Performance Monitor (HPM) focal points in West Central Africa Region Country Offices and this article offers an overview of was discussed.

In this data journalism tutorial, Matt Waite demonstrates how to visualize a list of campaign donors to a local election, using network mapping tools like NodeXL or Google Fusion Tables.

In this two-article series, Bilal Siddiqui teaches how to use Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) with the open source D3 JavaScript library to create data visualizations. An example scenario demonstrates the use of SVG and D3 for creating informative graphics out of browsing metrics for social media.

This is the first article in a three-part series written by Megan Bernstein, focusing on data visualization and some of the tools, tips and tricks to help you through the several stages of the development process.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the case of Shelby County v. Holder, declaring part of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 unconstitutional in a 5-4 vote. The folks at SAS thought it would be interesting to use JMP to graphically represent this voter registration data, as well as compare it to the national average during both time periods using election data from the US Census Bureau.

A personal selection compiled by Ramon Martinez, with dozens of links to sites and blogs related to information design and data visualization.

An interesting post by Udhaya Padmanabhan and Shilpi Choudhury provides an excellent collection of tips on how to apply Gestalt psychology and design principles to data visualization. Gestalt laws originate from the field of psychology, but has become a reference in a multitude of disciplines and industries like design, linguistics, musicology, architecture, and of course, visual communication.

With JavaScript visualization libraries, it’s possible to turn data sets into great web based visual representations, and this post by Spanish webdesign agency MA-NO lists 25 of the best JavaScript visualization solutions for your web projects.



An updated view at the Events Calendar we have available here on Visual Loop.

Now in its 40th year, the world’s premier conference and exhibition on computer graphics and interactive techniques will be held in Anaheim, California, USA. There’s no live streams but SIGGRAPH Encore will be capturing it all. More details here.

Partial screen capture of the Siggraph 20133 website
(Siggraph 20133 kicks off this week)


That’s it for another Data Viz News. Like we said before, feel free to let us know if we missed some interesting resource, and don’t forget to join us on our Facebook Group or, where we share many of the links mentioned above.

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.