by Infogram
Create infographics

Data Viz News [34]

Dozens of fresh links to data visualization and journalism articles, news and resources

November 23, 2013

Welcome to another round-up of links to articles, news and resources related to data visualization, data journalism, cartography and other related fields. Lot’s of good stuff today, in the week that we met the winners of the Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards 2013 winners, as well as the List of Winners of the 15th European Newspaper Award.

Also in this week’s selection, a look at how the New York Times is planning to replace Nate Silver’s, several data visualization works about the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy – a subject we’ve talked about during the week -, and eye-opening, provoking and inspiring articles, from folks such as Lynn Cherny, Stephen Few, Bryan Connor and Jerome Cukier, just to quote a few.

If you’re a Pinterest user, you have probably noticed a new map feature – looks promising -, and we couldn’t left out a mention to Manuel Lima’s The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge, with the foreword by Ben Shneiderman, now available for pre-ordering..

Here are this week’s best reads:


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

After writing, last week, about a number of new projects and developments, Stephen Wolfram announced a pilot release of the Wolfram Language — as well as Mathematica – in partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The intention is that it will be bundled as part of the standard system software for every Raspberry Pi computer.

The Stanford Vis Group has just moved to Seattle , to become the University of Washington Interactive Data Lab. The UW Interactive Data Lab aims to enhance people’s ability to understand and communicate data through the design of new interactive systems for data visualization and analysis.

The University of Washington Interactive Data Lab team
The University of Washington Interactive Data Lab team


As soon as the list with the awarded works from this years of the Kamtar Information is Beautiful Awards was out, we wrote a brief post about it, congratulating the winners. In case you missed it, the list with winners is here, but don’t forget to also visit the gallery with the all projects shortlisted.

Another competition that reaches its end. The list of winners of the 15th European Newspaper Award has just been announced. European Newspaper Award is a design competition for European newspapers organized by the German Office for Newspaper Design. This year, for the first time, the competition has a non-European country – no other than Brazil. Check out the list with all the winners here (pdf).

And while some competitions reach their ends, others are announced. The most recent data visualization challenge by looks particularly interesting, as they partnered with the World Wide Web Foundation to challenge the data viz community to visualize the Web Index – the world’s first multi-dimensional measure of the Web’s growth, utility and impact on people and nations. They’re offering $4,000 in prizes and the winner will be invited to attend a World Wide Web Foundation event in 2014 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the web.

Just after winning the Best Tool award in the 2013 Kantar Information Is Beautiful Awards, announces a new feature: responsive infograms. Now your infographic will fit your article layout as it changes from desktop to mobile. To use responsive infograms you have to pick a special embed code in ‘Publish’ dialogue. The publishing platform must support 3rd party scripts.

As many of you already know,, Nate Silver‘s website for data-driven journalism, will re-launch in early 2014 in coordination with ESPN. In anticipation of the launch, the editorial team has made a number of key hires to fulfill the vision for the new site. The editorial team to date includes Mike Wilson (Managing Editor), Kate Elazegui (Creative Director) and Micah Cohen (Senior Editor), just to name a few.

And this is almost like a follow-up to the previous article! After Nate Silver left the New York Times for ESPN, there was some questions on how the Times would replace such an asset – and more importantly, the kind of data journalism he was doing. Now, as reported by Politico, David Leonhardt will take over a new Times website located “at the nexus of data and news [that] will produce clear analytical reporting and writing on opinion polls, economic indicators, politics, policy, education, and sports,” as executive editor Jill Abramson said in a memo.

Held each year in Belgrade-Serbia, the Resonate festival lasts for three days and provides an overview of current situation in the fields of music, visual arts and digital culture. Guest artists, lecturers and other participants are chosen to represent the cutting edge of the contemporary creative industry in the world, and the list with the first confirmed workshops was just made available online.

According to comScore, MapQuest still has the #3 mobile app and is the #2 map service for desktop users. The updated MapQuest app is designed to be faster, more responsive, and a whole lot easier to use than previous versions. The team completely redid its cartography, making streets easier to delineate and directions easier to follow. The app has adopted iOS 7′s flat design concept and simplified fonts.

A new data visualization released on the first day of the plenary negotiations at the UNFCCC’s COP-19 in Warsaw pushes policymakers to respond to a new narrative on climate change. Produced by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and Globaia, and funded by the UN Foundation, the 3-minute film uses stunning visuals to unravel exactly what the IPCC’s climate probability ranges mean for societies.



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

One of the most praised articles of the week was this one by Lynn Cherny, a Boston-based data analysis consultant with 20 years industry and research experience in data analysis, customer research, and interface design – although, if you’re on Twitter and keep up with data vis topics, she really doesn’t need any introduction. Lynn – who’s also responsible for the best jobs board out there -, shares some priceless tips for those interested in starting Consulting in Data Visualization – and it even includes a mention to us :)

A provoking rant by Stephen Few, about common errors in scientific research, a problem that has been getting worse, including in the visualization realm. He also leaves a set of eight suggestions that might solve several of the current flaws.

Some of the worst information visualization papers published in the last few years have become some of the most cited. If you say something (or cite something) often enough, it becomes truth.


“What the Frack is going on?” or, more briefly, “What the Frack?” is a visualization project developed during the Integrated Course Final Synthesis Studio A.Y. 2012-13 and mapping the controversies of soil degradation and hydraulic fracturing. The authors had the opportunity of presenting the whole work during La Novela – Fête Connaissance, science festival that took place in Toulouse from September 28th to October 12th, 2013.

One of the visualizations included in the interactive report "What the Frack?"
One of the visualizations included in the interactive report “What the Frack?”


One of the sites we elected as the best new blogs of 2012, If We Assume is the digital space of James Davenport, PhD candidate in Astronomy at the University of Washington. In this post, Davenport visualizes some of the Metadata from the Tate Collection: the dimensions of every piece of art that the Tate owns.

A follow-up to Glendon Mellow‘s “So You Want to Hire A Science Illustrator?“. Here, scientific illustrator Kalliopi Monoyios leaves five tips for taking advantage of the Internet as a way to promote your work and make yourself more visible.

In my experience, scientists are an approachable bunch. They are passionate, geeky (in a cool way), eager to get their work out there and open to ideas. So why are so many illustrators wondering how to get their foot in the door while so many researchers are scratching their heads about what they’re going to do with that figure they’ve been pushing off?


Robert Barta‘s general impressions about Strata London 2013. His goal for the conference was to evaluate the state of the Big Data scene in general, get ideas for new ways to use Big Data analysis, and learn new Big Data analysis techniques.

German scientist, doctor, and author Fritz Kahn is one of those names that marked the history of data visualization – we’ve featured his work on a previous edition of Vintage InfoDesign, our weekly journey into the Past of information design. Now, a new 390-page monograph of Kahn’s work, published by Taschen, takes readers into an illustrated world that features winged fish, insect-size parachutists, and blood cells used as boats.

Vintage infographic / visualization / map, Man Machine
Man Machine (1926), by Fritz Kahn is a new research tool from the CATO Institute exploring changes in human well-being across the globe. Bryan Connor leaves his opinion on this new tool, praising its qualities, especially the effective data display and the accessibility factor as a differential. For Bryan, “It joins the ranks of OECD Better Life Index, WIDE, and College Completion in a league of modern visualization sites tackling big issues with accessibility and sustainability in their DNA.

This is just another example of 3D data visualization, something that we’ll be seeing more and more, for sure. In this case, Germany’s population pyramid in a 3D printed volume representation (dataSculpture) of the distribution of various age groups, as predicted for year 2030. The project was made by MeliesArt.


A couple of weeks ago, we spoke about the work being conducted by the reserach team led by Dr. Ruth Rosenholtz of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, who devised a computer model that spits out alternate visualizations called “mongrels” – twisted images that represent how our brains actually process the maps in front of our eyes. Now, teamed up with Dr. Rosenholt and sent her three infographics to run through the mongrel analysis, as Jon Salm explains in this post.

The ongoing project Labour in a Single Shot, initiated back in 2011 by Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki, is one of those websites you just have to love. In a series of workshops all over the world, participants were invited to produce videos of 1 to 2 minutes, framed in a single shot, about the general topic ‘labour’. This one comes from Aily Nash, and it’s about data visualization.



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

“In Defense of Bad Maps” is actually the title of the presentation Andy Woodruff gave last month at the annual NACIS conference. In it, Woodruff breaksdown the possible reason of the popularity of bad examples of cartography in the Internet, something that often bother cartographers. This post has some great insights, which can be easily be applied to what we see currently happening with ‘infographics’.

We cartographers are in a print mindset, no matter how much we think we are web mappers. The rules of web cartography are a mashing together of a bunch of different things.

One of the highlights of this week’s Digital Cartography round-up was the impressive Global Forest Change study and visualization, developed by Prof. Matthew Hansen and his team at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Global Forest Change
Global Forest Change, by researchers from the University of Maryland


As Keir Clarke points out, Russia’s Mercator has joined in this year’s trend to map the ages of all the world’s buildings. Mercator’s Houses of Moscow maps the ages of all Moscow’s buildings (we’ve mentioned it here), and Clarke adds other examples of building-mapping visualizations.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Houses of Moscow - the era of construction
Houses of Moscow | Mercator


Mikel Maron is a programmer and geographer, the co-founder of Ground Truth Initiative and a former board member of OpenStreetMap. Here he shares 10 environmental maps that have inspired him – one of them is InfoAmazonia, from our Brazilian friend Gustavo Faleiro and his team at ((o)) Eco.

GIS Day was celebrated a couple of days ago (November, 20) for the 14th time. This global event provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society. In this map, you can see how vast this community is, and where the gatherings took place.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic GIS Day Events Around the Globe
GIS Day Events Around the Globe



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

Inspiring article by Dr. Mario R. Garcia, about the value of visual journalists, both historically as in the present context of ‘citizen journalism’ and amateur photographers. Pay particular attention to the part about the Orange County Register‘s case, where visual journalists have been hired as part of the publishers’ plan to revitalize that newspaper, enhance local coverage and raise the level of visual storytelling.

It’s probably the first time we include a Twitter user’s Lists in this weekly round-up. But the curating work done by journalist/humorist Nina L. Diamond is simply a must-see, with dozens of newspapers, journalists and companies properly organized.

One of those rare cases of never-ending popularity, the television sci-fi show Doctor Who completes today (23/11) 50 years! Charles Apple introduces Susan Santola of the Syracuse, N.Y., Post-Standard, who created an infographic about “the mad man with a box”.

A retrospective video of the 2013 Society For News Design annual conference, featuring appearances and cameos by Rob Schneider, David Kordalski, Larry Buchanan, Melissa Angle, Jennifer Daniel, Ryan Hildebrandt, Michael Renaud, Chris Courtney, Michael Whitley and Harris Siegel.



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

The Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society will convene for the first time next year, with some level of participation from the National Science Foundation. Alongside Microsoft researchers Kate Crawford and Danah Boyd, two computer-science-savvy professors will co-direct the council: Geoffrey Bowker from the University of California, Irvine, and Helen Nissenbaum of New York University. Jordan Novet talks about this and other initiatives.

A response to John Funge‘s guest post on VentureBeat titled “Why the big data systems of tomorrow will mirror the human brain of today“, by Christian Madsbjerg, cofounder of business consultancy ReD.

There is an unfortunate assumption in many tech circles that people and computers think alike. A belief that thinking is fundamentally the same process whether it takes place in the human mind or in the circuit board of a computer.


Nailing down the return on investment (ROI) for a data visualization initiative is difficult, as David Sims writes in this article, He heard Drew Skau, the visualization architect for Visually, Scott Benzie, vice-president, marketing and sales for Dundas, and James Foster, a regional product marketing manager at SAS responsible for visualization and reporting products.

Andrew McAfee, who studies and lectures on the influence of IT on business at MIT, talked about some of the trends he’s seeing in big data at the Alfresco Summit in Boston this week. In this post, Ron Miller shares the highlights and top insights from that presentation.

A team of IBM researchers have built a program that uses math, chemistry, and vast quantities of data to churn out new and unusual recipes. To build their algorithm, the researchers modeled the steps that we might go through to develop creative ideas. Aatish Bhatia tells the story.



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

Anotherepisode of Data Stories was released, with Moritz Stefaner and Enrico Bertini enjoying a nice chat with Ben Shneiderman about his new treemap art project, treemaps and their history, and information visualization in general. As we mentioned in the introduction, Ben wrote the foreword for Manuel Lima’s The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge.

In this interview, Ray Snoddy talks to Andrew Miller, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, about The Guardian’s digital strategy and his plans to improve the financial health of the company.

Keynote speaker at the Big Data viz Management Seminar, where he talked about visualizing big data sets, Moritz also gave this short interview:



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

A quick tip by Andy Kirk, remind us of’s feature on their gallery that enables you to search for projects based on the tools that were used to build each project.

A very useful post for those interested in learning D3.js, by Jerome Cukier, who shares his basic template for the projects he does using this javascript language. This template consists of a set of two files, an html file and a js file.

One more ‘introduction to D3.js’, by Tom Barker, a software engineer, an engineering manager, a professor and an author. It covers the basic steps to draw objects, binding data and loading external data, among other tips.

Our friend Jorge Camões presents his method of creating bullet charts and boxplots in Excel. He also shared the file for you to explore.

Another Excel resource, this one from Cole Nussbaumer. In this post, she leaves a slopegraph template and tells us how they can be particularly useful when you have two time periods of data and want to quickly see increases/decreases between the two periods.

We have mentioned Noah Iliinsky‘s series of posts about his “Four Pilars of Visualization” design principles in previous editions of Data Viz News. He just updated his blog with the links to some of those articles.

Keir Clarke pulled together a list of JavaScript libraries for creating time-line maps. The libraries recommended include Timemap, TimeMapper and MyHistro.

Like we said last week, the folks at School of Data are re-publishing Noah Veltman‘s Learning Lunches, a series of tutorials that demystify technical subjects relevant to the data journalism newsroom. This one is about web APIs.

The book Around The World is filled with remarkable stories and helpful infographics collected from countries spanning the globe. Here’s the official video:



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

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.