by Infogram
Create infographics

Data Viz News [20]

The top news, articles and resources from throughout the Internet

August 17, 2013

With a Google near-unprecedented outage – it killed 40% of the entire Internet use, as reported here – and websites belonging to the Washington Post, CNN, and Time magazine being attacked by supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, this was a particularly strange week. According the BBC, that breach was the result of a security failure at a firm which provides a link recommendation service that all three sites used, and as far as the Google outage goes, it is still unclear what really happened, so we can expect further updates on that in the upcoming days.

But it’s in the Articles section, however, that the today’s list of suggested links is fully packed, ranging from vintage information graphics – great to see more and more folks revisiting the past -, to overviews and fresh insights by the likes of Alberto Cairo and Stephen Few.

Other articles, interviews and resources complete our Data Viz News number 20 – not really a big milestone, but it has been great to see the data visualization community supporting this work, so we just want to thank you all for that, before we move on to this week’s recommended links.



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

The crisis in Syria spread to the cyberspace, with websites belonging to the Washington Post, CNN, and Time magazine being attacked by supporters of President Bashar al-Assad. Earlier this week, the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) also hit the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the New York Post.

As mentioned in the introduction, a major outage brought down all of Google’s services, from Google Search to Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, and beyond. Neil McAllister reports that “according to web analytics firm GoSquared, worldwide internet traffic dipped by a stunning 40 per cent during the brief minutes that the Chocolate Factory’s services were offline”. Here’s the graph of what that looked like:

Google outage graph
(image: GoSquared,)


The Society for News Design (SND), is seeking nominations for the office of Secretary/Treasurer for 2014. Nominees must be members of the Society. Those interested in making a nomination have to do it until Friday, Aug. 30. Voting will begin on Oct. 1, and continue through Nov. 7.

A new version of the Google Maps app for Android, iPhone, and iPad was launched recently comes with several new features, and here’s another one to add to that list: Search ads.

NodeXL , the famous free and open-source network analysis and visualization software package for Microsoft Excel 2007/2010, crossed the 200,000th download.

NodeXL crossed another milestone
NodeXL crossed another milestone


The International Center for Journalists is offering an eight-week, online course for Spanish-speaking and English-speaking journalists working within the United States on how to find business and economics stories in data and using databases to find such stories. The online courses will take place from Oct. 7, 2013 through Dec. 1, 2013

Full Fact, a fact-checking service provider, has launched a new section on its website hosting key data on education. Besides Education, The Full Fact Finder covers four other areas: immigration, health, the economy, crime and the law.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding 25-30 journalism grants with the aim of advancing creative reporting approaches, enabling a better coverage of international development issues. The grant is intended to raise awareness about these issues by having a strong impact on media audiences in eight of the European countries with the highest net official development assistance: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

With the growth of Twitter and their engineering and development team, the company announced the creation of Twitter University, after acquiring Marakana, a company dedicated to open source training. According to the blog post, It’s a way of helping engineers grow and have access to world-class technical training, along with opportunities to teach the skills they’ve all mastered.



A selection of recent articles published by experts in data visualization, cartography and programming, among other topics.

After a recent trip to Belo Horizonte (Brazil), for a keynote about information design, Alberto Cairo wrote this article stating that “today, being able to present information graphically is as important for anyone willing to communicate effectively as writing and presentation skills” -something many of you who’ve read his book or participated in one of the MOOCs he gave have known for a while.

One of world’s leading experts in data visualization for data sense-making and communication is back with another article – and soon, a new book. Stephen Few shares some of details behind Signal (the current working title), a book that will focus on analytical techniques for detecting signals in the midst of noisy data.

Data that do not convey useful knowledge are noise. When data are displayed, noise can exist both as data that don’t provide useful knowledge and also as useless non-data elements of the display


Robert Kosara talks about the beautiful Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations (1944) as “the kind of poster or magazine fold-out that was fairly common during the golden age of information graphics, from the 1940s (if not earlier) to the early 1990s.”

Vintage infographic Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations (1944)
Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations (1944) | W.M Welch Scientific Company

Another article about vintage information design, this one on how Da Vinci’s studies of the human body still influences the Human anatomy drawings, by Paul Hastie for BBC Arts & Culture.

Robert Simmon continues the series of articles dedicated to the use of color in data visualization. In this post, he talks about the difference between the types of data – divergent and categorical or qualitative -, and how to pick the best color palette for each one.

Google teamed up with Beyond and launched the Google Databoard, a tool focused on sharing the contents of its research reports. In this post, Bryan Connor shares his opinion about this tool, including some recommendations for its improvement.

Another data visualization review, this one by Kaiser Fung. He talks about a recent visualization published by, that has a spider charts as the main tool. And as many of us already know, “despite being beautifully constructed, and fun to play with”, this type of chart just doesn’t work as a vehicle for communication.

This was one of those stories that made the week, at least in terms of Twitter activity and major blogs coverage. Nobutaka Aozaki, a Japanese-born, New York-based conceptual artist, has been working on a partial map of Manhattan compiled of individual, hand-drawn maps he’s collected from strangers. The artist walks up to passersby on the street and asks for directions. He’s focused on both major tourist destinations and places where he goes out to eat or to meet friends.

Manhattan has one of the worst income gaps of any city–or country–in the world, often separated by just a few blocks. Nickolay Lamm (who was behind some other great visualizations, including what our world would look like if you could see Wi-Fi, and striking pictures of how sea-level rise is going to flood iconic cities on the East and West coasts), created some impressive graphics that display that inequality in the height of the city’s buildings.

The rise of personalized data is poised to be a hot topic as companies seek to deliver real benefits from the information gathered on consumers. The challenge for designers lies in finding a way to reduce the complexity posed by such vast amounts of data and give data a human shape – the famous ‘storytelling’-, and Dominic Quigley talks about five core principals to follow when embarking on a data visualization challenge.

Crop circles aren’t really a visual representation of information, but their have a profound impact in our collective imaginary. And if they’re underwater and made by a five inches long puffer fish, well, that is just something that awakes our inner-science geek, no matter if you’re into to visualization or not. Enjoy the video, and read the article by Lisa Raffensperger.


A post by geologist Betsy Mason, showcasing some of her favorite geologic maps of U.S. national parks. You’ll also find a brief explanation about each one, as well as links to the high-resolution versions.

A delightful read, this article by Andy Woodruff, with a number of links that are frequently sent to him (and others) by Internet users who have just discovered that cartographers are real and do exist.

In this article, Stephan Angsüsser (Wuhan University) breaks down a Chinese strip-format travel map devoted to the high-speed railway connecting the capital Beijing with the metropolis Shanghai, published in the “hand-drawn” travel series of the China Railways Publishing House.

Detail of the China's high speed train map
Detail of the China’s high speed train map. Full size here.



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

Alastair Reid posted this article about the deal made by the Financial Times and MapBox, that allows the interactive team at to quickly create scalable maps of anywhere in the world. Martin Stabe, head of interactive news at the Financial Times, provides some extra insights about the new possibilities that arise from this new partnership.

Three decades ago, the editors of the Munich daily Abendzeitung produced a newspaper each day for 300,000 buyers, but 30 years later circulation has declined to approximately one third. As we can see in this article by Cordt Schnibben, the newspaper industry in Germany is now facing the same challenges that so many other newsrooms around the world have been dealing with for so long.

A featured post by Allison McCartney, editor at the PBS NewsHour, explaining some of the best free (and code-free) tools for adding data visualization and interactive components to your next story.

The questions about the methodology used by Chinese authorities to gather, measure, and present economical data, are becoming more and more frequent – but, as Phillip Blanchard puts out in this post, this is far from being an exclusive problem of China.



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

A new research report by MarketsandMarkets explores the current and future growth potential of the Business Intelligence software market across the various industry verticals. It discusses in detail about the key drivers, restraints and opportunities available in the Business Intelligence market, an it’s available for purchase here.

Professor Mark Whitehorn explains what big data is, beyond the Oxford English Dictionary definition – which he strongly criticizes, alongside the three ‘V’s (velocity, volume and variety) definition, that doesn’t help to add veracity, validation or value either.

The first in a series of posts introducing the concepts and messages of Barry Devlin’s forthcoming book, “Business unIntelligence–Insight and Innovation Beyond Analytics and Big Data”, that will be available in mid-October.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that $32.7 billion (or 10 percent) of state Medicaid payments made in 2007 were improper. Other estimates are much higher. The Texas Office of Inspector General used the LYNXeon visualization tool to track connections among government payments, health care providers and Medicaid recipients, to pin down fraudsters.

Shari C. Hyman, the Commissioner and Chair of the New York City Business Integrity Commission, strated a serie of posts about the wealth of intelligence and information on organized crime activity and other forms of corruption in several sectors of the economy amassed by the Business Integrity Commission (BIC), since the mid-1990’s.

One of the signs that a online video went ‘viral’ is the amount of tweets posted about it, and now you can visualize how that ‘viral effect’ happens, thanks to this post by Gordon MacMillan, showing three well-known examples.



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

An interview with Avinash Kaushik, a digital marketing evangelist at Google and the author of what Kaiser Fung describes as “a bible known as Web Analytics 2.0“. This is the second interview of Kayser Fung’s series “Numbersense Pros”.

NASA’s designer Robert Simmon always wanted to create images that help people better understand how the Earth works. In this post by Stephanie Paige Ogburn, you’re invited to know a bit more about Robert’s career, how his style evolved over time and some of his most well-known visualization works.

This week, the infographic designer interviewed by was Matt Byrom, that tells us the story behind the creation and growing of his video brand Wyzowl. He and his team now have a number of other video brands, including Sketcha and Cliqvid.



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

We’ve mentioned this compilation of maps before, by Max Fisher, the Washington Post’s foreign affairs blogger. But if you like maps like we do, you’ll understand why we are referring it again.

A simple, yet very useful, Tableau tutorial that covers the basics of quick filters and ashows how to push the boundaries on Tableau a bit further.

A very detailed post by Thomas Wiecki about The Bayesian Revolution, with an introduction to Bayesian linear regression and a preview of PyMC3 (currently in alpha) and its new GLM submodule he wrote to allow creation and estimation of Bayesian GLMs as easy as frequentist GLMs in R.

Sheetsee.js is a JavaScript library developed by Jessica Lord that makes it easy to use a Google Spreadsheet as the database feeding the tables, charts and maps on a website.

The latest post by Jonathan Schwabish for All Analytics is about small multiples, a visualization technique that is becoming more and more popular. Here, Jonathan shows an alternative way to create small multiples in Excel without having to deal with multiple graphics manually.

CubeHelix, a color scheme that properly de-saturates from color to black and white, is now available in Tableau, thanks to James Davenport, who explains how he did it with a step-by-step guide and some complementary links.

A compilation of recent links curated by Anne Leach, the editor for the School of Data blog. Among them, several recommended tools, events, data sources and stories. It also mentions the ethnicity dot map of the US, that we’ve featured here.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Racial Dot Map
(Dustin Cable’s Racial Dot Map of the US | University of Virginia)



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

Visual loop's calendar with data visualization related events
Our updated calendar with data visualization related events


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.


    Marvelous, what a weblog it is! This webpage gives valuable information to us, keep it up…my website