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Data Viz News [28]

A festival of good reads for the weekend ahead

October 12, 2013

With no end at sight, the embarrassing U.S. government shutdown continued to be one of the most reported topics during last week. The back and forth over budget, Obamacare and other political interests has been vastly depicted, both visually and in articles, so we’ll just move on to another interesting ‘face-off’ going on, this one in British soil – and perhaps much more related to our field.

Since the bombastic release of the details behind the NSA’s Internet surveillance programme, The Guardian and the Daily Mail have been exchanging ‘compliments’, like the one on the Mail’s latest provoking articles, with the title  ‘The paper that helps Britain’s enemies’ (pdf). The reply came swiftly after, in form of testimonials about the importance of The Guardian’s work to democracy, by some of the leading editors in the newspaper industry. This all might sound like ‘business as usual’, with two competitors ‘bashing’ one another with words, but the subject in hand is far too delicate and important to be interpreted as that.

Moving on, in terms of career moves and new opportunities, among the several that we noticed during the week (Lynn Cherny’s Google Group is a gold mine for those interested in pursuing new professional challenges), the Interactive News Internship at The New York Times seems to be an amazing opportunity. Also exciting was the announcement that Javier Zarracina will be joining the L.A. Times’ team as Infographics and data visualization editor, leaving The Boston Globe; and the news that Eric Fischer is now full time as part of MapBox’ growing team in San Francisco. Eric was previously a member of the Android team at Google and was most recently an artist in residence at the Exploratorium.

To close, before we move on to another gigantic list of recommended reads, don’t forget that you can browse around the latest interactive maps, data visualizations and print infographics – not to mention a always-inspiring dive into the history of information design. Also, our friends at Inspired Magazine published the monthly recap with our best content, so check it out, in case you missed some of September’s articles.

Hope you enjoy the links we separated!


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

Washington Post’s Wonkblog editor, Ezra Klein, introduced Know More, “a site for people who like learning stuff.” Eight to 10 times a day, Klein and reporter/Know More point man Dylan Matthews will post an image macro, video, tweet, data visualization, or block of text on a WordPress microsite built by Yuri Victor, user experience director at the Post.

Every year, the folks at Column Five Media select one theme for their agency to embrace, and in 2013, they focused on “transformation” – something that is now quite visible with the new website. Besides the redesign , it also includes new sections.

The International Institute of ICT Journalism, with funding and technical support from STAR-Ghana, has launched a 2-year “Open Ghana – Data Journalism for Improved Maternal Healthcare Delivery” programme. The project is aimed at equipping selected journalists in four districts in the Volta region to harness innovations in data-driven journalism to tell impactful stories on maternal healthcare

Bora Beran presents one of the most exciting new features in the upcoming Tableau 8.1: R integration, as shown in the following video:



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

Eagereyes turned seven years on October 1st, and Robert Kosara celebrated with this post about the site’s journey, the achievements, the establishment, and the occasional punching around that, it’s only fair to say, we all need sometimes. Congratulations, Robert!

Kyle Vanhemert brings a compilation of some of the best infographics of the year, as part of a bigger selection by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Gareth Cook, for the second issue of The Best American Infographics.

And here’s another book that has been all around the Internet. The Infographic History of the World is a new book by Valentina D’Efilippo, who wrote this guest post about how the project came to live.

The second post in a series of guest blog entries by Tableau Public authors for Design Month. In this one, Ryan Sleeper points out how the use of color can help a story in your data pop off the page. Ryan is the Manager of Data Visualization & Analysis at Evolytics and won the third annual Iron Viz Championship at TCC13, back in September.

Again from Tableau, another post about the use of color in data visualization. In this one Jewel Loree tackles the aspect of color blindness – a topic that has been generating some interesting discussions, as we saw a couple of weeks ago.

GigaOm’s Derrick Harris evaluates RAW, playing around with some NFL quarterback data to test the possibilities of Density Design’s latest creation.

The use of digital platforms like social media, email, blogs and websites have provided activists of all kinds a way to deliver information instantly, to unprecedentedly large audiences. Stephanie Castillo talks about another favorite tool to deliver provoking, eye-opening messages: the combination of data visualization and video.



Ranging from ancient charts to modern digital cartography and GIS technology, here you’ll find the best links of the week:

We talked about this post in the introduction of our latest Digital Cartography round-up. Betsy Mason shows how to create an interactive visualization of the buildings age of a particular town, with a help from Thomas Rhiel of the independent journalism site

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Chicago's buildings age
(image: Map Lab)


Jonathan Crowe introduces two forthcoming books that deal with maps of the First World War: Peter Chasseaud’s Mapping the First World War: The Great War Through Maps from 1914-1918, and Simon Forty’s Mapping the First World War: Battlefields of the Great Conflict from Above.

Antarctica is one of the most poorly mapped locations on the globe. Even so, Keir Clarke managed to find a couple interactive maps about Earth’s southernmost continent. have any other to ad to list? head out to Google Maps Mania.

As part of Lifewatch Inbo‘s terrestrial observatory, 30 birds have been tagged over the course of this spring and summer, with lightweight, solar powered GPS tags. The preliminary results were presented in the media and you can follow the birds live. This was another of the featured maps on Digital Cartography [24].

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Using CartoDB to visualize two months in the life of seagull Eric
(image: Lifewatch Inbo)

Foursquare designer Matt Healey explains to John Paul Titlow how he created the stunning Pulse visualizations of check-in data that the company has been showing off recently.



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

Over the past years, Open Data and Open Knowledge universities and new organizations have worldwide established themselves, creating Masters and general courses to attract journalists and students to this new trend of communication. Daniele Palumbo introduces this map, that will be updated regularly by DataJCrew.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Data journalism courses
(image: Data journalism courses around the world | Data Journalism Crew)


The Data Journalism Handbook is available in yet another language. This practical guide to the emerging phenomena of data driven journalism, written by more than 70 experts from all over the world, was now translated by Otakar Motejl Fund, a Czech transparency initiative. The handbook is intended for journalists, students and all the people interested in open data as well as for watchdog organisations.

School of Data (a collaboration between the Open Knowledge Foundation and Peer 2 Peer University) together with the International Labor Rights Forum, will bring data explorers from around the globe together online to answer some of the tough questions about the global garment industry.

Derek Willis of the New York Times spoke recently at Duke Monday. In his talk “Dead as a Mutton Again: Journalism’s Modernity Problem,” Willis urged aspiring journalists to become more comfortable with digital tools to process large amounts of raw information. The talk was the first installment of “Data + Journalism,” co-organized by Duke’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy and the Department of Computer Science.

Journalists who can even partly manage the flow of information well will not only have a job but job security.



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

Many scientists are facing a new problem: data sets are getting bigger and more complex, whether one is dealing with medical records, genomic sequencing, neural networks in the brain, astrophysics, historical archives, or social networks. Jennifer Quellete shows some of the mathematical tools and techniques being used, like topological data analysis to find structure in complex, unstructured data sets.

Despite the efforts of European regulators to protect citizens’ personal data, predictive analytics has made it too easy to piece together information about individuals regardless of the law, as John Naughton points out in this article.

Preparing for her upcoming A2 Academy Visualizing Your Big-Data: What to Use, When & Why lecture, Tricia Aanderud looked for some examples of effective and ineffective data visualizations, focused on Business Intelligence.

In a world where business and customers are increasingly demanding real-time reaction, the layering of data introduces delays that are almost unacceptable. Barry Devlin says that it’s perhaps time to move from ‘layers’ to ‘pillars’ as an alternative approach.

Chase Davis, assistant editor on the Interactive News desk at The New York Times, lays down some data science to change how you think about the questions you’re asking of your data.

Big Questions […] are speculative, exploratory, and systemic. As the name implies, they are also answered at scale: Rather than distilling a small slice of a dataset into a concrete answer, Big Questions look at entire datasets and reveal small questions you wouldn’t have thought to ask.



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

Recently, the folks at Gilt hosted a chat with Claudia Perlich, Chief Scientist at Dstillery (formerly Media6Degrees). She answer a few questions about her work, the world of big data, and her many outside interests.

Today everyone expects infrastructure (blog hosting, etc.) AND information to be free. And arguably advertising is footing the bill of all the user-generated and ‘non-paid for’ content to be freely available on blogs, news sites, apps, etc. Unfortunately, the trade-off is often invisible and not up to the choice of the user.


The inventive work of Benedikt Groß has been recognized all over the Internet, and Greg J. Smith just published a long Q&A with the Stuggart-based designer/data artist, where he speaks about his latest projects.

Dr Brett Stoudt talked about his research into the impact of policing, in particular the stop-and-frisk tactic employed by the New York Police Department (NYPD), on a neighborhood in the South Bronx. He shared his thoughts about data science in the service of humanity and demonstrated how data collection can be done in a more humanitarian way.

The LA Times’ Deputy design director Derek Simmons shares some of the details behind the eight-page preview section of the the start of the Dodgers’ series against the Atlanta Braves.

Laurie Petrycki sat down with Scott Murray, Assistant Professor of Design at the University of San Francisco, Code Artist and author of ‘Interactive Data Visualization for the Web: An Introduction to Designing with D3‘, to talk about creating interactive data visualizations.



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

Andy Kirk‘s monthly collection of links to some of the most relevant, interesting or thought-provoking web content published during August. And it includes a couple of nice mentions to us, so thanks again, Andy!

Our friend Randy Krum shares a list of tools, popular sites and software applications used by designers all over the world to create information graphics and visualizations.

Sean Flynn, a recent graduate from City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, shares a list of more than 100 links to resources, tools, data sources and blogs for journalists.

To demonstrate the Simpson’s Paradox — a statistical phenomenon where an apparent trend is reversed when you look at subgroups -, the Visualizing Urban Data ideaLab at UC Berkeley has created an interactive tool to simulate a data set based on a famous example, as explained in this post by David Smith. It was featured in our latest Interactive Inspiration post.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Simpson's Paradox
(image: Visualizing Urban Data ideaLab)

A useful list of civic data sources in the Los Angeles area, including some links to state and federal data portals. It was compiled by Vyki Englert.

Nelson Davis have found a solution to Tableau´s lack of any form of auto save, with the popular software AutoHotKey, that allows you to write fully customizable macros of all types.

In this post, Chris Beaumont suggests a basic rubric for the early stages of exploratory data analysis in Python. This process transforms data into a format which is easier to work with, gives you a basic overview of the data’s properties, and likely generates several questions for you to followup in subsequent analysis.

When you make a line chart in Excel, the series overlap, and sometimes it may be tricky to resolve the individual data. John Peltier shows how to work around that problem, with the usual detailed step-by-step approach.

We’ve already mentioned RAW, the new data visualization tool from Density Design that transforms text from your clipboard to D3. For those yearning to access RAW from R, here is an easy way to do it.


This presentation by Paul Zubrinich was delivered at Social Media Week Berlin, in September. It was targeted at NGOs, NPOs, activist organisations and charities who have important key messages to share with the community.


A half-hour video presentation by Cyril Cherian from QBurst talks about Big Data Visualization using D3.



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

Upcoming events
Upcoming events


That’s it for another Data Viz News. 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.