by Infogram
Create infographics

Data Viz News [36]

The best #dataviz reads for the weekend ahead

December 7, 2013

While the world still mourns Nelson Mandela’s death, a topic that of course dominated all the attentions in international media, we’ve reached that time of the year when we start looking back at what happen in all the previous months. And it’s a lot, if we just think about how much stuff happened in the data visualization community.

This edition of Data Viz News – one of the most hard-working tasks we’ve taken upon on a weekly basis here on Visual Loop, this year – is the last of 2013 with this format: a snapshot of what’s been published around the Internet about data visualization, data journalism, cartography and Big Data and Business Analytics during the week. It usually featured around 30-50 links, including tutorials, interviews and news.

So, before we move on, we would like to thank you for your support since the first edition of Data Viz News (and pretty much all our content), and hope to see you all back in 2014.

Now, with that said, it’s not like were going to simply stop for the next couple weeks. Instead, we’re preparing two special posts for the next two Saturdays, with a look back at some of the most interesting contents featured on the previous 35 Data Viz News – and believe, it’s a lot of content!

As for this week, Help me Viz was one of the most interesting initiatives we’ve seen all year, so definitively worth checking out, and participate. Apple buying Topsy was also one of the top news, and The New York Times launched a curious experiment: 4th Down Bot. It analyzes over 10 years of N.F.L. game data to determine whether a team would have been better off had it punted, attempted a field goal or gone for a first down. Signed by Brian Burke, Shan Carter, Tom Giratikanon and Kevin Quealy, it’s certainly something that you’ll use if you’re an NFL fan.

Now, to the last Data Viz News of 2013:


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

As we said in the introduction, this site by by Jon Schwabish is one of the most promising initiatives in recent times, for the data viz community. It’s a neutral ground to bridge newbies with experts. The site is open to anyone who is searching for feedback on their visualization designs, from seasoned designers and data visualization specialists to individual analysts searching to improve their graphic displays. All types of visualizations are welcome: simple, single line or bar charts to full-blown infographics to interactive visualizations. What are you waiting for?

A six-person Cambridge startup called Exaptive is working on creating a collection of visualization “building blocks” that can be assembled in different ways to get new views into datasets. The startup has already been collaborating on data visualizations with early users at Harvard’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, the Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis, and geoscientists at Penn State.

Video demo is below, as is a screenshot of Exaptive’s software used to explore a scientific research dataset related to multiple sclerosis.


Journalism++, a network of data journalists and developers, has released an open source platform for managing large data sets and searching the connections between them. Alastair Reid explains how lets users input large data sets, predominantly of people or organisations, and then maps the connections between them into an easily searchable database.

This year, the Tapestry Conference will have one keynote speaker from each major area of thought leadership: design, academia, and journalism – with Alberto Cairo, Aron Pilhofer and Jake Porway -, and several short stories with data visualization experts. The latest addition to the rooster is Santiago Ortiz.

Tapestry Conference speakers
(image: Tapestry Conference speakers)


Also mentioned in the introduction, Apple has bought social media data analytics firm, Topsy Labs, which specializes in using data from Twitter to track customer sentiment. The value of the transaction is estimated at $200m.

Ars Electronica FutureLab has just made available a list with projects using open-source solutions that, despite not being so ‘data viz’ related we thought it would be interesting to share.

Nathan Yau shared the latest job opportunities in data science, visualization, and statistics submitted to the site’s job board. As usual, we also recommend you sign up to this Google Group for job openings and offers.

According to a Knight Foundation report released recently, the first to track civic tech businesses and investments, the sector has raised $430 million in investments in the past two years and civic tech company launches are increasing 24 percent annually. Users can explore civic tech through a bubble treemap data visualization, sorting by themes, communities and companies.

Partial screen capture of the interactive civic tech visualization
(image: Knight Foundation)

The recently appointed VP of Data at sleep and health data tracking device Jawbone, Monica Rogati, has partnered with artist Shantell Martin to utilize all the information they’ve accrued through the brand’s newest, the UP 24. The latest data set Jawbone has released reveals insights from the UP community correlating to lifestyle, geography and travel habits—all tied to sleep.

DataViva is a project developed in part by media lab Professor César Hidalgo, with the Brazilian state government of Minas Gerais. It aims to make a wide swath of government economic data usable with a series of visualizations apps.



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

We mentioned last week that Sheila Pontis was starting a series of posts about information design. The first one focus on the sensemaking process of information design by providing an overview of key cognitive sensemaking activities introduced in prior studies and explaining how they influence the development of effective solutions.

Created with the open source programming language Processing, German artist duo Moritz Schell and Frederic Seybicke explore in their own cold logic version of Rock-Paper-Scissors, a Sisyphean exercise in which two MacBooks battle each other in an inescapable game of chance, forever.


Wilneida Negron was tasked with working on a data visualization for the [email protected] Project and now shares her write-up of the project. The report, Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy, by the Drug Policy Alliance and The New York Academy of Medicine provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for fixing a broken drug policy that is a “bifurcation between two different and often contradictory approaches – one which treats drug use as a crime and the other view, as a chronic relapsing health or behavioral condition.”

A quick post by Andy Kirk, about a recent interactive work from Damien Demaj, visualizing Rafael Nadal’s incredible 2013 season on the tennis tour. We’ve also feature it in a previous Interactive Inspiration post.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic The Comeback of Rafael Nadal
(image: Game set map)


For the last four months, Patrick Garvin has been editing and updating this interactive graphic about the history of same-sex marriage in the United States. He tells us how this project was conceived and executed.

After 70 years of publishing, Marvel Entertainment has built up an incredible universe of heroes, villains, and super teams–a sea of data that no mere wiki can organize. At long last, Marvel has embarked on a mighty quest of its own: to create an entirely new graph database and search system to conquer continuity malaise by visualizing each character across the Marvel Universe. David Lumb tells the story.

Scientific American shared recently The Truth about China’s Patent Boom visualization. Kaiser Fung breaks it down pointing up the good aspects and the improvements that could be made, and talks a bit about the use of ink blot charts.

The folks of Calculus VII used the Scilab, a free and open source software for numerical computation providing a powerful computing environment for engineering and scientific applications , to explain how a knight walks randomly on the standard chessboard.

Another review of an interactive data visualization, this one by Bryan Connor, about The Bloomberg Visual Data team and Matthew C. Klein’ interactive walkthrough of the October 2013 job numbers.

With data collected from Twitter, Miguel Rios, who works with the Visual Insights Team, created an image with the outpouring of grief, after the announcement of Nelson Mandela’s death. Simon Rogers shares this simple yet beautiful image, and you can see it in its full glory on Miguel’s Flickr.

Twitter messages
(image: Miguel Rios | Twitter)



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

In this post, Nick Stockton talks about Jonathan Roberts, known for producing the official maps for Game of Thrones and long-time fantasy cartographer. On his site, not only does he showcase his beautiful maps, he offers great tips for aspiring mappers.

Game of Thrones Map, by Jonathan Roberts
(image: Jonathan Roberts)

A redesign of has just gone live. It now has a stronger distinction between logged in and non-logged in user interfaces focusing on what matters for each. Actions like editing, browsing the history and exporting are all modes of the same map now.

The short compilations by Keir Clarke are always amusing and interesting. This one features interactive maps about Global Slavery – a topic undoubtedly amplified this past week by the death of Nelson Mandela.

French designer Antoine Corbineau has created a neon vision of Paris, the City of Light, that resembles pop-art stained glass. According to Carey Dunne, he plans on designing similar maps of other cities, including New York and Tokyo. The 100 cm x 70 cm prints are available for 50 euro (about $68) here.

Neon Map Of Paris, by Antoine CorbineauAntoine Corbineau
(image: Antoine Corbineau)


Still in the ‘Christmas gift mood’, Joe Walderman talks about “An Atlas of Radical Cartography”, a book that contains some of the most bizarre and fascinating maps out there. As Jon describes it, “Each map pops out as a staggering and almost comical new perspective and makes you think about cartography like you never thought you could. There is an accompanying short essay with each map to help analyze and guide you through the madness.”

The Human Connectome Project is a working towards mapping the brain’s network of “wires” – a kind of road map to understand the ins and outs of the brain. The teams involved hope that identifying these complex networks will help us understand how we function and how we behave. The project is explained in this article by Gaelle Coullon.

A video animation with a chronological view of the 36.000 french administrative boundaries (at commune level) during the 5 years of their integration in OpenStreetMap.



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

The non-profit news site Texty published the Ukrainian translation of the Data Journalism Handbook. This is the fifth translation of the book to date. The translation was carried out over four months by one translator and one editor, with financial support from the Open Society Foundations.

Andrew Kueneman, deputy director of digital design at The New York Times, Greg Manifold, design director at The Washington Post, Sarah Sampsel, director of digital strategy at The Washington Post, and Judith Siegel, senior UX designer at presented “Go Long: How to master long-form digital design,” a session about the process behind making a couple-thousand word story have a beautiful digital presence. Corinne Winthrop gives her report on this event.

The term “data journalism” is nearly as prevalent as the term “big data.” With more and more access to data, improvements in technology, and the transformation of traditional print journalism, today’s readers are expecting a different type of reading environment than ever before, which often includes data visualization.



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

In Roman Vladimirov‘s opinion, companies looking for reasons to adopt better business intelligence platforms would be wise to consider the ways in which Twitter has been an incredibly valuable tool for businesses that are trying to better their bottom lines using big data.

Data visualizations have changed the way information is communicated in corporate contexts for good, as Nick Millman states in this article. The products of necessity in a time-poor, information-rich age, visualizations take the hard work out of interpreting dense data. They’re picking out the critical information and putting it in front of the audience’s eyes.

Data Dashboards are not a new technology, but with more data becoming available and technology becoming ubiquitous through the use of mobile devices, the need for dashboards has become critical in companies large and small. This is the central topic of this article by Kevin Lindquist.



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

Hamburg’s weekly newspaper Die Zeit is known for its sophisticated art direction, razor-sharp typography and a continued period of visual excellence. An important part of its visual report are its infographics, and Jonathon Berlin spoke with Nora Coenenberg, one of four graphics editors on staff. The weekly publication was one of SND’s World’s Best Designed newspapers this year.



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

At the end of every month, Andy Kirk releases a selection of his favorite inks to some of the most relevant web content related to data visualization. Here’s the latest collection, from October 2013 – mentioning our new Blogs Page in it.

In this article, Jewel Loree shares the Best of the Tableau Web for November 2013 – rapidly becoming a monthly must-see, for the number of amazing tips, resources and examples collected.

Nathan Yau recommends that you try Bokeh, a Python interactive visualization library for large datasets that natively uses the latest web technologies. Its goal is to provide elegant, concise construction of novel graphics in the style of Protovis/D3, while delivering high-performance interactivity over large data to thin clients.

Xu Hang from the Shanghai Lifestyle studio, presents Processing Workshop No. 2: Data Visualization. Watrch the full video here.’s Drew Skau picked 20 of the thousands of info-posters submitted to the website during 2013, to poull this list with some of the best of the year.

Books, prints and many other gift suggestions, just in time for Christmas. Nathan Yau (again) shares some of his favorite goodies for data viz folks.

Posted by Heyjin Kim, who explains SimpleReach uses Ember with D3 for DATA and DOM manipulation in their interactive dashboards.



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

2014 will be filled with great events!
2014 will be filled with great events!


That’s it for this last 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.

And see you in 2014!

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.


Comments are closed.