by Infogram
Create infographics

Data Viz News [43]

Dozens of fresh links to articles, news and infographic resources from throughout the Internet

February 8, 2014

Yes, we had the Super Bowl. And yes, the Sochi Winter Olympics are on. But for the data visualization community, the crunching victory of Seattle over Denver or the opening ceremony of the XXII Winter Games were nothing but petty distractions, when compared to Visualized New York – what we can call the first big event of the year.

During two days, more than 30 thought-leaders shared their experiences and new projects with the audience. Our friends Santiago Ortiz, Jan Willem Tulp and Maral Pourkazemi shared the stage with the likes of Moritz Stefaner, Lev Manovich, Benjamin Wiederkehr and Giorgia Luppi, among many others.

And by what we could read on Twitter (#visualized and @visualized), it was one mind-blowing experience after the other. Let’s hope those presentations show up soon on Visualized’s website, and, as far as we can tell, it’s fair to officially declare that 2014 is on.

Of course that this edition of Data Viz News features lots of other contents, with cartography and data journalism as part of the topics covered. Also, if you want to check out the print and interactive infographics published around those two sports events we mentioned above, you’ll certainly have some fun exploring this week’s compilations.

But let’s just move on to our list of recommended links:



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


Beautiful Science, the new season of events at the British Library, explores how our understanding of ourselves and our planet has evolved alongside our ability to represent, graph and map the mass data of the time. As Andy Kirk mentions in this post, it will be running from 20th Feb to 26th May, so if you’re in London during that time, this is definitively a must-visit.

The Report on the Mortality of Cholera in England 1848-49, 1852, by William Farr, , one of the charts that will be seen at the British Library
The Report on the Mortality of Cholera in England 1848-49, 1852, by William Farr, one of the charts that will be seen at the British Library


A new pilot project, Twitter Data Grants will give a handful of research institutions access to Twitter’s public and historical data. If you’d like to participate, submit a proposal here until March 15th.

Alberto Cairo comments the big (bad) news of the week in Latin American data journalism. Giannina Segnini, arguably the most famous data and investigative journalist in the region, has quit her job at La Nación, in Costa Rica, apparently due to conflicts with the newspaper’s management. We feature regularly content from that publication, especially on our This is Visual Journalism column, and had the opportunity to show Manuel Canales‘ work on our Portfolio of the Week section. Also, our good friend Mariana Santos has been developing some work there as well, so, overall, this is really a step backwards for the development of the field in the region.

As seen in this post, Tableau had a huge fourth quarter and year in 2013, nearly doubling its year-over-year revenues for both periods, and putting it on a collision course with its larger r business intelligence vendor competitors in a few years’ time.

ThoughtSpot, a company that aims to provide businesses with intelligent search and data visualization, has raised $10.7 million in Series A funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. ThoughtSpot’s search and computation platform pulls in business data, and allows companies to visualize this data in search and visual formats.

New York Times’ Ron Nixon will be running an investigative course at Wits Journalism, which will take each journalist participating from idea to publishable article, preferably a story with a data element to it. The course will start on 17 February, with three days of data training skills at Wits Journalism in Johannesburg.

Plotly is another free data analysis and graphing web app, built on d3.js, and therefore, a good alternative if you’re not a coder, but want some of the flexibility and richness that d3.js affords. Plotly charts can be downloaded as SVG, EPS or PNG, so they are simple to import into Illustrator, Photoshop, AfterEffects, or Keynote.

One of the charts available on
(One of the chrts available on



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

In this post, Andy Kirk talks about the increasing popularity of a specific type of interactive feature in news portals, ‘participative’ visualizations, a trend that culminated with The New York Times’ project ‘How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk’, developed by Wilson Andrews and Josh Katz. As we mention in a previous edition of Data Viz News, this project was the most visited page across the entire New York Times’ website throughout 2013 – in just 11 days.

I think the main takeaway from this is how people love to participate: we are enthusiastic about anything that will result in a new understanding of where our views or attributes fit in the world.


Data visualization has recently made its way into the mainstream by the way of infographics, business intelligence dashboards and, in some cases, statistical graphics. An article by Michael O’Connell and Eric Novik looks at three different types of visualization, each with potentially different objectives and different demands that are placed on the consumer of information.

Ben Jones shows us that visualizing history using a gantt bar chart is a useful way to spot overlap in time – overlap of people with events, people with key dates, and people with other people. It’s also a useful way to spot patterns and identify impossibilities in a list of dates.

Written by Mushon Zer-Aviv, Disinformation Visualization: How to lie with datavis, is one the most recent additions to Alberto Cairo’s recommended infographics and visualization resources. Alberto also shares his opinion on this matter, as a teaser of part of a chapter he wrote for a book that will be published by Springer this year, and that will be made available publicly soon.

We should also point out the responsibility we have to educate ourselves to overcome our own biases, shortcomings, and knowledge gaps. We must work hard to eliminate or, at least, to minimize ambiguity, confusion, and potential errors of interpretation in our graphics.


In her Master Project at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany, Lisa Charlotte Rost is designing the 3rd, 4th and 5th issue of dotview, a magazine that brings the web into a magazine. Here, she talks about Francesco Franchi‘s well-known book, “Designing News”, and why it is somehow important for her Master’s Thesis.

Kimberley Mok showcases the work of Venezuelan artist Rafael Araujo, who its down at a traditional drafting table to render his amazing, nature-inspired works. His illustrations break down the logarithmic progression of shell formation, and the step-by-step flight of butterflies – like in the example below:

One of Rafael Araujo's work
One of Rafael Araujo’s work



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

A fantastic set of maps, completely produced using the R software program with just a 3 lines of code. James Cheshire presents this amazing work by Robin Edwards, a researcher at UCL CASA, who explained how he created these maps here.

Topographical map, by Robin Edwards
Topographical map, by Robin Edwards


An interesting use of the popular tool ColorBrewer, often mentioned as one of the top web apps for cartographers. One of the areas where color coding is used in Speech and Language Pathology is AAC and symbols, as we can see in this post by the Speech Dudes, Russell Cross and Chip Clarke.

Taking inspiration from Nikita Barsukov, who mapped running traces in some European cities, Nathan Yau mined the public data on RunKeeper and put together a series of maps.

Where people run, by Nathan Yau
Where people run, by Nathan Yau


Outerra, based in Slovakia, is a “3D planetary engine” that purports to be able to render a world in full detail, from space all the way down to pebbles on the surface. Well, Steve Edwards and Carl Lingard created the ME-DEM (Middle-earth Digital Elevation Model) Project in 2006, with the ultimate goal of rendering the entirety of Middle-earth in open-source data, and last year, they exported their data into the Outerra engine for the first time. Now, Peter Rubin shows us the resulting set of renders.

A Madrid-based painter and illustrator, Fernando Vicente uses delicate vintage maps as canvases in his “Atlas Series.” The artist illustrates human faces, animals, and skulls on the maps, like the one below:

Illustrated maps by Fernando Vicente
Illustrated maps by Fernando Vicente



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

Josh Stearns walks us through The Verification Handbook, a free online resource produced by the European Journalism Centre with contributions from an all-star cast of journalists.

A long featured article about Ezra Klein, known by many as the former founder and editor of “Wonkblog” – arguably one of the most-read blog s at The Washington Post. The article was written by Benjamin Wallace, and in it you’ll find lots of details about Klein’s transition from The Washington Post to his new “Project X”.

This is an edited version of a chapter Andy Dickinson contributed to a new book Data Journalism: Mapping the Future, published by Abramis academic publishing. Here, Andy discusses several key points on the evolution of data journalism, taking examples from some of the most relevant projects in the past years.

Thinking about ways to make the data we find and the data journalism we create physical, closes a loop on a process that starts with real people in the real world.


After showing last week, the staff memo from The Washington Post’s Marty Baron, it’s time to see what Jimmy Orr, L.A. Times’ managing editor/digital, had to share about the newspaper’s online presence in 2013. And apparently it’s all good news.

Data journalism is an increasingly prominent part of the journalistic toolkit. But as Damian Radcliffe points out, it’s also a concept that can sometimes be a little hard to understand until you start to see examples, especially at a local level where datasets are typically smaller and the stories potentially less obvious.



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

Relying on big data about job candidates doesn’t make for a good hiring process, says Nick Corcodilos in this article. He expresses his concern with the new ‘trend’ of relying only on “people analytics” as the solution to the challenges that American companies face when hiring.

America’s employment system is getting even more automated and algorithm-ized by applying “big data” to process you.


Stephanie Castillo shares a list of 15 tools and websites that help those working with social media management take on the complexity of the job. It includes several of’s infographic tools in the mix.

Lots of good points in this post by Ted Driscoll, a Director at Digital Healthcare and Claremont Creek Ventures. It focus on the “Confirmation bias” – the tendency to favor information that confirms our preconceived beliefs, and to ignore data that contradicts those beliefs -, and how the massive volume of information out there transformed it “from being a useful survival tool to a source of increasing polarization and disharmony”.

You can find support for almost any crazy belief, even if the vast majority of the information in an unbiased search might contradict your preconceived notions. Humans are good at ignoring stuff they don’t agree with.



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

Although not so ‘data-visualization’ related, this conversation with Kevin Kelly is definitely worth reading. He helped launch Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor until January 1999. He is currently editor and publisher of the popular Cool Tools, True Films, and Street Use websites. His most recent books are Cool Tools, and What Technology Wants.

Dean Meyers talked with’s co-founder and chief content officer Lee Sherman, about the collaborative business proposition that favors the creative directors and designer members of that online community.



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

Seen‘s mission is to connect people more deeply to the world and our collective stories by making events visible and their stories permanent. If you don’t know this service, be sure to give it a try. Here’s the results for Visualized – the first big data-viz event of the year, as we mentioned in the introduction.

Buzz from Visualized |
Buzz from Visualized |
The Buzz from  Visualized |
The Buzz from Visualized |


Another mention to Alberto Cairo‘s The Functional Art blog, here with a recommendation to a series of video-tutorials about D3.js. These videos were made available online by Robin Lindeborg, a Swedish data journalist.

A step-by-step guide by the data projects and computer-assisted reporting team at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, showing how to scrape data using Notepad++.

Autodesk Maya (commonly shortened to Maya), is 3D computer graphics software originally developed by Alias Systems Corporation and currently owned and developed by Autodesk, Inc. It is used to create interactive 3D applications, including video games, animated film, TV series, or visual effects, and if want to give it it a try, this post is a good place to start.

An alternative to WTFViz, inside Reddit. Data Is Ugly is a sub all about butchered statistics, misleading charts and unlabelled axes.

Giorgia Lupi, design director at Accurat, presents a series of exploratory data visualizations as part of MFA Interaction Design’s lecture series.



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

Data Viz Calendar
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.