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Data Viz News [30]

A link-fest of articles, interviews, news and job opportunities in data visualization

October 26, 2013

As important events such as COmmunicating COmplexity, Push.conference and the Online Journalism Awards unfold, the stream of updates, especially on Twitter, floods with interesting news and great insights. So, our first recommendation in this Data Viz News is that you follow the hashtags of those events – here are a few recent ones to start with: #2CO, #pushconf, #ieeevis, #ONA13 and #qself.

Also, before we move on to the extensive list of links that we’ve prepared for the weekend ahead, we’d like to thank all of you who’ve spread the word about our updated page of recommended blogs. Some of those messages are featured here, and it’s great to have such a positive response to something that was also intended to help us out in the making of posts such as this one.

Now, our picks for the best articles, news, interviews and resources of the week:



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

The team behind one of the most anticipated data visualization-related events of early 2014, Visualized, revealed this week who will be speaking in New York – and it’s simply an amazing panel, with names like Santiago Ortiz and Jan Willem Tulp, and a special note to Maral Pourkazemi, who has shared some of her information design projects with us in previous posts ( The Iranian Internet and  Passion X Satisfaction).

Visualized speakers
(The awesome line-up for Visualized)


A great job opportunity: FastCo Design is looking for a information design editor that generates ideas for infographics, designs infographics, commissions infographics (both static and interactive) from illustrators, and curates the best infographics from around the web. According to the site, this is a contract position with competitive pay.

The Moody Foundation has announced a $50 million commitment to establish the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin, resulting in the largest endowment for the study of communication of any public university in the nation. The gift, among the largest ever awarded by the Moody Foundation, will support projects across the Moody College and is aimed to help position it as the nation’s leading institution for research and teaching in new and convergent media.

BuzzFeed, the media Web site focused on viral content, announced on Monday that it was again expanding its reporting staff, this time to introduce an investigative unit. A new team of about half a dozen reporters will be led by Mark Schoofs, who was hired away from the nonprofit investigative service ProPublica.

Google has released a new mapping application as part of its Maps Engine series of map creation tools. Google Maps Engine Pro appears to be designed to make it as easy as possible for businesses to create their own Google Maps. Keir Clarke talks about the specifications of Google Maps Engine compared to Maps Engine Pro, among other differences.

‘Semi di Futuro’ is an exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Politecnico di Milano and taking place at the Triennale Museum of Design, Milan. The folks at Density Design contributed to the project with an interactive installation showing the present of the university through three points of view: the research brought on by the students, the internationalization and the relationships with other universities around the world and the presence on the national press. The exhibition will be hosted until December 22th – and the entrance is free.


Singapore’s BooksActually invited award-winning editorial and infographics designer Francesco Franchi to give a special lecture about his newly released book Designing News: Changing the World of Editorial Design and Information Graphics, published by Gestalten. The event will take place November 2.

And speaking of books, here’s a nice offer from Cool InfographicsRandy Krum, making available for free one chapter of his ‘Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design‘ book, soon to come out. The sample book excerpt includes 30 pages from the first chapter.

The coverage of the the Boston Marathon bombings, national security and international elections by news organizations large and small took top honors Saturday night at the 2013 Online Journalism Awards Banquet, which ended the Online News Association Conference. Also worth noting the Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism given to D3.js, and if you want to recap some of interactive projects that run for the awards, we’ve put together a nice list here.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic 68 Blocks: Life, Death, Hope
(Knight Award for Public Service | 68 Blocks | Boston Globe)



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

A well-timed post by Alberto Cairo, about the excessive criticism in the field of data visualization, mentioning ThumbsUpViz and WTFViz as two extreme opposite examples.

If anybody out there still needs convincing that Isabel Meirelles‘ book ‘Design for Information: An Introduction to the Histories, Theories, and Best Practices Behind Effective Information Visualizations‘, Robert Kosara‘s review will put an end to all the doubts.

What sets this book apart from any other I have seen are two things: a clear separation of theory and case studies, and clear, concise, in-depth explanations of visualization techniques.


This one goes to all U.S. sports fans out there: Slate’s Ben Blatt created an interactive tool to find the shortest possible connections between 50,000-plus professional baseball, basketball, football, and hockey players. Two athletes are considered “connected” if they played for the same team during the same season, although due to trades and injuries it’s possible that certain “connected” athletes never shared a field of play.

This month, Statlas is charting every play of the World Series, and they’re sharing the visuals created with the data in their blog. Worth checking out – again, if you’re a sports fan, in this case baseball.

To close the ‘sports section’, a (rare?) post with all-compliments by Kaiser Fung. The chart in question is the interactive visualization created by the New York Times about the Giants QB Eli Manning, that we featured here.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic For Eli Manning, 150 Games and Counting
(image: The New York Times)



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

Inspired by John Nelson‘s tornado map, Adam Pearce created his interactive version, that was featured on our lates Digital cartography post. As he explains, he tried to emulate the aesthetic of Nelson’s map while attaching one more simple idea – crossfilter – to it.

Partial screen capture of the interactive map Twisters
(image: Adam Pearce)


This first in the ‘Carto-Critique series’ – an attempt to bring some of the ‘good/bad maps’ discussion to Map Lab- is the one with subscribers to New York City’s bike-sharing system, Citi Bike, published on DNAinfo New York . The map was brought to Map Lab’s attention by Jessie Braden and Steven Romalewski.

Our good friend Gustavo Faleiros continues with his contributions on the ijnet’s website, this time to talk about a new interactive tool developed by the Oxpeckers Center for Investigative Environmental Journalism, Africa’s first investigative reporting unit focusing on environmental issues, with the help of the Environmental News Lab (EcoLab). This project was featured here on Visual Loop.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Oxpeckers
(image: Oxpeckers)


After moving to Seattle, Jim Vallandingham started doing what every map geek would do: Mapping the ‘new land’. In this post, he shares some of the maps he created using TileMill.

Pure map-awesomeness, courtesy of Wired’s Liz Stinson, presenting the work of Peter Bellerby. He began constructing globes out of his house, curtaining off his dining and sitting rooms with plastic so they’d be protected from the casting process. He quickly learned that hand making globes requires some intensely technical skills that are equal parts reliant on perfect math and artistic execution. Just watch the video:


Europe has built a fortress around itself to protect itself from ‘illegal’ immigration from the South, from peoples fleeing civil war, conflict and devastating poverty. A nice compilation of maps to help us understand better the situation, by Philippe Rekacewicz.

As a companion to “Six Decades of the Most Popular Names for Girls,” this set of maps shared by Reuben Fischer-Baum show the most popular names for boys, by state, from 1960 to 2012. Here’s the animate version:

Map infographic Six Decades of the Most Popular Names for Boys, State-by-State
Six Decades of the Most Popular Names for Boys, State-by-State



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

The Times is developing a “suite of tools” to allow the newsroom to produce multimedia articles quickly and easily in the future, as reported by Alastair Reid. ‘My Year with Malala‘, a long-form multimedia article, is the first to be produced using the first iteration of tools.

A useful list of journalism ventures worth watching closely, each for a different set of reasons. David Bauer also put this article on Github for everyone to edit and suggest additions.

An excellent overview of the recent rend of billionaires investing in media corporations, by Alan D. Mutter. He traces a general profile of Buffett, Bezos and Pierre Omidyar, pointing out the differences in style and vision of each one.

La Nation’s presentation at ONA 2013, by Momi Peralta Ramos and Florencia Coelho.



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

Posted by technology journalist James M. Connolly, here’s an interesting thought: where does big data ends and the Internet of Things begins? The follow up comments are also interesting.

The IoT and big data won’t be about convincing patients and recalcitrant physicians that sensors and monitors can change the way we do healthcare. It won’t be, “Wear this monitor, and it will help us find a cure for what ails you.” Maybe it will be, “Mrs. Johnson, it’s your doctor’s office calling. The Baby Maker App says you’re ready to ovulate. Put on something sexy and tell your husband to get ready for some action.”

Big data has a ‘dark side’. A greater potential for privacy invasion, greater financial exposure in fast-moving markets, greater potential for mistaking noise for true insight, and a greater risk of spending lots of money and time chasing poorly defined problems or opportunities. John Jordan wrote this cautionary article.

According to Chris Meyer, Tim McGuire, Maher Masri and Abdul Wahab Shaikh, generating value from Big Data is a matter of connecting data to insights to action in a fast, repeatable way. They share four steps to turn Big Data into relevant insights, so people can take meaningful action.

Data is meaningless unless it helps make decisions that have measurable impact.



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

It’s been the talk of the week: Pierre M. Omidyar, the founder of eBay and now a philanthropist, will be backing a general-interest news site to the tune of $250 million. David Carr talked with Mr. Omidyar for a column about the growing interest in serious news content from people who built their wealth in digital realms.

Advertisers don’t want to put their ads next to the investigative story; it’s extremely difficult to do that. And very few people today actually read those serious news stories on the Web now. The audience for the most important stories can be depressingly small. There will always be a core of readers willing to support that work, but it is a tiny, tiny percentage of broader society.


The first of the three Q&As from folks at SND we bring today. Missy Wilson spoke with Jon Hill, design editor at The Times of London, about how he wanted to do visual journalism, and about his future projects.

In this interview, the senior user experience designer at CNN Digital in Atlanta, Judy Siegel, talked to Steve Mulder, the Director of User Experience and Analytics, NPR Digital Services, about Lean UX .

The news and sports designer Courtney Kan had a quick chat with the creative director of Gannett Digital, Andres Quesada. They spoke about his professional background and what inspires him in his work.

Josh Schwartz, Lead Data Scientist at Chartbeat, is interviewed by Nicholas Diakopoulos. The services and benefits of Charbeat, as well as where data scientists and other researchers should focus on when it comes to understanding content metrics are just some of topics of this conversation.

As we (slowly) move toward a world of heavily personalized news sites. I think our entire understanding of measurement will need to change. The notion, for instance, of a popular page on a site doesn’t mean the same thing if that page’s popularity was chosen algorithmically, and that needs to be captured in how we measure popularity and how we act about the numbers we see



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

Theresa Neil is the co-author of book Designing Web Interfaces, from which she took these principles than can be applied to dynamic, ajax-driven web interfaces. The book has a companion site which describes these design principles and some design patterns that build upon them.

One of the key requirements for supporting different screen sizes is to render slightly (or completely) different views. This nice tutorial by Irene Ros shows you how to do it with d3.chart.js.

Following his series of Excel tutorials about histograms, Jon Peltier teaches how to plot an histogram on a value-type horizontal axis.

In this article written by Hector Cuesta, the author of Practical Data Analysis, you will learn how to create a social graph visualization of your Facebook Friends with d3.js.

And one more tutorial, this one by Scott Chamberlain, who has been writing about making geojson maps in a series of posts. Here, you’ll learn how to get a interactive map with polygons up on Github in just four lines of code.

Cycle plots are useful, but they’re not supported directly by Excel. To help with this problem, Bryan Pierce of Perceptual Edge put together an Excel template for creating cycle plots using a method that they learned about from Ulrik Willemoes.

Inspired by Bryan Pierce‘s post mentioned above, Andy Cotgreave made a short video of how to create cycle plots in Tableau, and also show a couple of other ways you can quickly look for seasonality in your data.

Joseph Rickert shares his impressions of Dan Cerone‘s presentation at NESSIS 2013, “State of Transition: Estimating Real-Time Expected Possession Value in the NBA with a Spatiotemporal Transition Model and Player Tracking Data”, which describes how he and his fellow researchers are using an optical tracking data a system developed by STATS, and scheduled to be installed in all 30 NBA arenas, to build predictive state transition models.



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

Our updated calendar of Data Viz Events
Our updated calendar of Data Viz 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.