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Data Viz News [21]

The latest interviews, news, articles, tutorials and much more, in our weekly round-up

August 24, 2013

The  latest developments in the NSA/Prism scandal are disturbing, to say the least. Besides the detention of David Miranda –  partner of The Guardian‘s journalist Glenn Greenwald, held by UK authorities at Heathrow airport and questioned under the Terrorism Act for nine hours – , the uncovering of the mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency is already provoking the shutdown of companies and websites. The British newspaper published an Editorial summing up this surreal week for journalism, for ethics and for citizenship.

That same feeling of injustice and outrage followed the report of Bradley Manning’s conviction. The 35 years prison sentence for the Army intelligence analyst who leaked the largest cache of classified documents in U.S. history (yes, Wikileaks) seemed too heavy – specially if you take in consideration that in about 25 years many of the materials he released would have been automatically declassified.

It’s fair to assume that Manning will be doing much less time in prison (around five years, counting the three already served), but this might have just opened the way to a much more complex case against Julian Assange himself. According to the Wikileaks website statement, “while the defense should be proud of their tactical victory, it should be remembered that Mr Manning’s trial and conviction is an affront to basic concepts of Western justice.”

Apart from those two cases – not so much ‘data visualization’ related, I admit, but quite important in a journalistic perspective – , we have hand-picked another great list of articles, interviews, tutorials an other resources – like Mike Bostock´s  update of D3.js, the French version of the Data Journalism Handbook, Graham RobertsAnimated Information Graphics class, and a look at our updated Events Calendar.

Hope you enjoy it!


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

Revolution Analytics announced that it has won a DataWeek 2013 Award for Data Visualization, with the company’s flagship product, Revolution R Enterprise, being recognized as the Top Innovator in the category. You can see the winners of all the other categories here.

A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will allow Stanford researchers led by Dan Edelstein, an associate professor of French, and history Professor Paula Findlen, to develop a suite of network visualization tools specifically designed for humanities research.

Nathan Yau announced the FlowingData Job Board as a place where companies and those looking for a job can easily connect. The ideal jobs will be in statistics, data science, visualization, and design, from freelance up to full-time. The introductory price for a 30-day listing is $49.

Google has released a new website , the Street View Trekker, featuring some impressive multimedia tours, including Google Maps, Street View, photographs and videos of some of the world’s most beautiful locations. Street View Trek also provides interesting background into the locations visited by the Street View ‘trekkers’.

Partial screen capture of the website Street View Trekker
Google Street View Trekker

Graham Roberts, a familiar name in the data visualization community for his work as Graphics/Multimedia Editor at The New York Times, will be giving an online class, September 4th, about the use of animated infographics . The cost to enroll is US$ 20,00, and here’s Skillshare’s video promo:



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

The quest for the ‘perfect visualization for a given data set’ is the core subject of this article by Robert Kosara. The comment section also has some interesting points of view.

In this blog update,  talks about a recent article published at the Poynter Institute’s website, as another bad example of how journalists (and designers) deal with data, science, and evidence – a concern that, if you follow Alberto’s updates, doesn’t’ strike you as something new.

Pete Warden suggests five links about data visualization, including  Adrian Holovaty’s series on crawling and updating data and the useful Word2Vec  tool for clustering, and any other application where you need a sensible representation of a word as a number.

After the success of his announcement of making Chartbuilder open-source, David Yanofsky writes about the feedback he got from users all over the Internet, including some of the Twitter reactions to that  announcement.

We’ve featured Bruno Imbrizi’s latest data visualization experiment before here on Visual Loop, in which he uses data acquired from the London Underground to generate a three-dimensional tube map. Lex Berko reviews this visualization, as well as others projects that have also focused on displaying public transportation data.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Bruno Imbrizi: Experiments
(image: Bruno Imbrizi)

The recent events in Egypt provided John Beieler with another opportunity to visualize the GDELT data and how it tracks the protests. In this set of maps, he focused on Egypt alone and included various government responses to the protest activity.

An alternative visualization – with Tableau – of the Utah State University’s publication of student engagement results. Utah State was one of many collegiate institutions that have participated in NSSE’s national survey of student engagement. The way the results were presented make it hard to visualize/compare some basic aspects of the survey, as you can see in this article.

A round-up of Google Street View/Maps services, showing us five ways to launch virtual chaos and destruction to any place on the planet – including by using zombies, giant robots, fires and more.

As a follow-up on the Barcelona Beats (a real time map of what’s going on in real time around the city of Barcelona), the folks at Outliers Collective  have prepared a short video with some highlights from a whole month (April 2013) of digital and physical life in the Spanish city, including: Traffic density, Foursquare check-ins and Biking (public bike system) Data.




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

With the Buenos Aires chapter of the organization Hacks/Hackers just a few days away from the beginning of its second Media Party, Alejandro Martinez provides an overview of what will happen in the event, as well as the impacts the first edition had in all South America.

Miami-based journalist and Code with Me Miami mentor, Rebekah Monson, explains how journalists in the area have since started their own Hacks/Hackers chapter and have been hosting weekly open hack nights with the Code For Miami Brigade at one of the city’s co-working spaces called The LAB Miami.

The eighth Global Investigative Journalism Conference, the fifth Latin American Conference on Investigative Journalism (COLPIN) and eighth International Congress of the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) will happen simultaneously in October in Rio de Janeiro, making Brazil the destination for investigative journalists from around the world this year. Learn more about these events in this article by Natalia Mazotte.

Jake Newton talks about his ‘incredibly humbling experience’ at the L. A. Times, during the three-month internship he spent working with some of the most respected names in today’s journalism.

Future interns, it always pays in the long run to laugh at bad jokes! It’s so incredibly important to write things down and make sure you remember all of these names and all of these important people.

The New York Times website published recently The Jockey, a multimedia special that tells the story of the first North American jockey to ride in 50,000 races, Russell Baze. The comparison with Snow Fall is unavoidable (like these other projects), and in this article Sarah Marshall gives us an inside-scoop directly from Barry Bearak, the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who wrote the story of The Jockey, and Steve Duenes, associate managing editor of the Times.

This post co-written by Vitor Baptista and Neil Ashton explains the partnership between Open Knowledge Foundation Brasil and the Brazilian NGO INESC (Institute of Socio-Economic Studies) set out to create Orçamento ao seu Alcance, a site that presents the Brazilian federal budget in an interactive and intuitive form.

An example of the “pretty routine journalistic practice that should always be avoided at all costs”, as Mona Chalabi puts it, when referring to the habit of using estimates from undisclosed private organisations to support astory. In this case, the ‘target’ is an article in the Sunday Times magazine about manicurists (paywalled link) with some unreal numbers being thrown away without putting much thought on them.

David Sarno, a former journalist who spent eight years reporting on technology for the Los Angeles Times, founded a new start-up called Lighthaus – a new venture that applies game design principles to create touchable interactive graphics — graphics which can help bring important stories to life. The article written by Liz Shannon Miller includes this video of a recent talk by Sarno



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

Gartner just released the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies of 2013 report, in which tones down the expectations for big data. They adjusted that prediction to 5-10 years before big data would reach the plateau of productivity.

A series of system crashes affecting Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft in the past fortnight has brought warnings that governments, banks and big business are over-reliant on computer networks that have become too complex. Juliette Garside listened to some of those experts who fear that we lack the infrastructure needed to cope with the data that many consumers are gradually transferring into the cloud.

Just like the word “Big Data”, “Datafication” has too become sort of a buzzword. Josh Polsky, Head of Marketing for Xplenty, shares his thoughts on the definition of this term, quoting authors such as Jeff Bertolucci, Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger.

There are many services and software out there that make it easy for just about anyone to put together visualizations. The benefit is that more people in a business can examine data in order to make smarter decisions. However, as Nancy Gohring shows in this article, businesses are starting to think about how to make sure that the workers using these tools have the right kind of training, so that they make accurate visualizations and so that they don’t overstate their significance.

An overview of some of the  major trends of the last year that are reshaping the BI and analytics space, by Jorge Garcia, a senior BI and data management analyst for Technology Evaluation Centers. As he points out, “the new BI solutions give users the ability to combine disparate types of information into their analysis, associate their data with a specific location, and let them use it on the go.”

Professor Kirk Borne, a leading voice in Big Data, believes that “the volume, complexity, and speed of data today are vastly different from anything that we have ever previously experienced, and those facts will be even more emphatic next year, and even more so the following year, and so on.” He mentions a couple of interesting links, including a TEDx talk he gave back in April, titled Big Data, Small World:


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

The folks at NeoMam Studios continue their series of quick interviews with infographic designers. This time, Sean Liddle talked with Megan Radich, a visual designer with experience in web UI/UX and mobile app design.

Fresh new post in the series of interviews with data visualization and data analyses experts, by Kaiser Fung. In this one, Fung talked with Dean Baker, currently the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

A new “expert interview + online gallery”, courtesy of The expert in question is the well-known information designer Stefanie Posavec, who curated a gallery of physical data visualization projects and answered some questions about them.

Stefanie Posavec's Physical Data gallery  |
Stefanie Posavec’s Physical Data gallery |



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

Andy Kirk‘s monthly compilation of links, always filled with inspiring articles, visualizations and dozens of resources. It also includes a couple of mentions to Visual Loop, so we’d like to thank him again for that.

After answering the questions sent to him by Grushenka Arnold, a journalism MA student at Cork Institute of Technology, in Ireland, Alberto Cairo shared those answers on SoundCloud.

Node.js is an extremely powerful and flexible visualization tool that can solve a wide variety of problems. This tutorial by Brandon Cannaday explains in a very comprehensive way how to get started from the very beginning.

GGMplus (Global Gravity Model plus) provides maps and data of Earth’s gravity at 200 m resolution for all land and near-coastal areas of our planet between +- 60o latitude. Learn more about this reserach work being conducted by the Curtin University’s Western Australian Centre for Geodesy.

In this short talk, Nuno Vargas explains the collaborative tool he began developing during his Knight Fellowship, that enables newsrooms to quickly create stories that incorporate visuals, datasets and other elements.



An updated view at the Events Calendar we have available here on Visual Loop. You can send us the link to your event and we’ll include it here too.

Updated view of our Data Viz Events calendar
Updated view of our Data Viz Events calendar


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.