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Data Viz News [59]

The DJA 2014 winners and all the other news you need to know, plus the usual bundle of resources

June 14, 2014

Again, a sports event took over the news, at an even bigger scale than the Sochi Olympics or the Superbowl. Last Thursday (12/06), Brazil’s victory against Croatia in the opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup was pretty much the only thing being commented on social media sites – and it’s been like that ever since.

We have already talked about this edition of the World Cup for several times, gathering the best information graphics (print and online) from around the world, and dedicating a special spot to the works coming from Brazil (see here and here). We’ll keep doing it as the competition unfolds.

So, apart from all that buzz surrounding the 2014 FIFA World Cup – admittedly not the best time for those who don’t care much about football -, what else happened in the data viz community? Well, a lot, actually. For instances, two great events, Eyeo Festival and the GEN Summit (including the Data Journalism awards ceremony), which will surely result in lots of excellent materials in the upcoming weeks, both from their official websites/channels as well as from those who attended.

Also, a mention to new tools, such as WordPlay, a freeform NLP tool that lets you search across various bodies of text without having to know how to code, presented by Jer Thorp, or Fathom’s Mirador, that provides an overview of large datasets, by visualizing their underlying dependency structures and identifying groups of explanatory variables.

And that’s just a small sample – we’re talking about 40+ links, after all! Here are this week’s recommended articles, interviews and resources:


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

Last night (13/06), the winners of the Data Journalism Awards 2014 were announced, at the GEN Summit. The Best Story on a Single Topic went to; Best Data-driven Investigation for The Washington Post, and Best Data Visualization for The New York Times, with “Reshaping New York“; La Nacion took home the Best Application or Website award, and Chad Skelton won the Best Individual Portfolio, while NZZ left Bracelona with the Best Team or Newsroom Portfolio trophy. The Best Entry from a Small Newsroom went to Kiln, and ProPublica was the Jurors’ Choice. You can see most of the 75 finalists in a previous post here on Visual Loop

Partial screen capture of the interactive map The Migrants Files |
(The Migrants Files, by, won ‘The Best Story on a Single Topic’ award, at the DJA 2014)


This looks like a good opportunity: GOOD Magazine seeks an Infographics & Data Visualization editor.This key editorial position will develop, enhance, and execute editorial graphics and content for data driven journalism for GOOD Magazine, website, and related media—all central platforms for this multimedia lifestyle brand for the global citizen and creative change-maker.

Jer Thorp presents WordPlay, a freeform NLP tool that lets you search across various bodies of text without having to know how to code or to learn any kind of strange syntax. Whatever you type into the query box will be used as a pattern to search across the current corpus.

About a month and half ago, the folks at held our annual dashboard contest. This time the theme was to visualize state to state migration in USA, and you can now explore all the 49 entries online, including comments on each and every entry. Oh, and did we mention you can download every dashboard? Yep.

SiSense, a leader in big data analytics for business users, today announced $30 million in new financing led by prominent venture capital firm DFJ Growth, with participation from existing investors Battery Ventures, Genesis Partners and Opus Capital.

SelfieSaoPaulo” is a new project by Moritz Stefaner, Jay Chow and Lev Manovich created for 2014 SP_Urban Festival. The work will run every evening for the duration of the festival: June 9 to July 7, 2014. The media facade is located at the building FIESP / SESI and Alameda das Flores (Avenida Paulista 1313). The project develops further the ideas from Selfiecity published early in 2014, thet Moritz explained to us in detail in this interview.



A selection of recent articles published by experts in different fields of data visualization:

A series of tips and recommendations by Nathan Yau, on how Government Data Sites should handle the data they make available. Also read Jon Schwabish‘s take on this, in this recent interview.

The most frustrating part of the process is knowing how useful the data could be if only it were shared more simply.


Also on the topic of Public Data, Jeff Knezovich showcases four data visualization projects that illustrate the type of application one can make using this sort of data. One of those projects is Mapping Arms Data, by the Igarapé Institute.

Global arms trade - Google
(image: Igarapé Institute and Google)


Lat month, Harvard and MIT released data on their first 16 edX MOOCs, and in this article Jonah Newman and Soo Oh breakdown that data to take a clearer picture of who’s attending this relatively new type of course.

The Pew Research Center has released a new report about political polarization in the U.S. The report includes an embeddable chart which combines animation and interaction, but Alberto Cairo points out that “it’s hard to know what the chart is showing, as it isn’t properly labeled —and it lacks a y-axis”.

Now, in this case, Alberto praises the visualization developed by Eric Sagara and Charles Ornstein for ProPublica. The full story about Medicare and Ambulance Companies in New Jersey is here.

Article by Shane O’Neill, Managing Editor for InformationWeek, who talks about his personal experience with the Nike+ app, and how the analysis of the data collected helped him to improve his overall performance

Our good friend and talented information designer Tiffany Farrant-Gonzalez, talks about BoxOfficeQuant’s visualisation, depicting the colors used in over 300 movie trailers. This visualization was created by Edmund Helmer, in 2013.

(image: Edmund Helmer for BoxOfficeQuant)



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

Back in 2012, Moritz Stefaner, in collaboration with Studio NAND, Medienfabrik and Jens Franke have designed “a truly abstract globe to act as a container for thematic detail relating to FIFA’s football related educational activities worldwide”. We featured that project here, when it was launched, and in this article Kenneth Field talks about what impressed him the most in it.

Partial screen capture of the FIFA Development Globe interactive website
(image: Moritz Stefaner, Studio NAND, Jens Franke | FIFA)


A weekly selection of articles, news and apps that merge cartography and public health issues. Special attention to the App to document the fight against Dengue in Pakistan – hopefully we’ll see this kind of effort spread to other regions where Dengue is still a major cause of death.

A tutorial by Jonathon Morgan on how to use D3 to create a choropleth map, with data retrieved from 1.700 Facebook pages and YouTube accounts associated with militant groups and humanitarian organizations working in Syria.

Since Esri detailed how you can add Flickr sets to story map tours, there have been some changes to Flickr. Sets have now become albums, and while the steps are slightly different you can still embed albums in your story map tours, as explained in this tutorial by Bern Szukalski.

Ezra Klein and Susannah Locke gathered these examples of maps, charts, and graphs that show where U.S. food comes from – and how you eat it. It opens with this 1922 vintage map published by the meatpacking firm Armour and Company.

(image: Armour and Co)



The most recent articles with tips, insights and best practices around data journalism and information design in newsrooms.

Tom Hawking wrote here one of the most radical rants against the infamous Washignton Post’s op-ed article by W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson, in what we can all agree to be the latest of a series of bad data journalism examples – or, like Alberto Cairo (and others) calls it, “Datum Journalism”.

GIJN’s weekly round up of Data Journalism Links on Twitter (for May 29- June 6), including items from DatenBlog, the Tow Center, and the London School of Economics, among others.

Journalist Sandra Crucianelli talks about her experience developing data journalism initiaves. One of the latest ones was in Panama, where four groups of journalists participated in a series of three workshops in February, March and April.

One of the videos of the “How to Start a News Site” series, this one with Jeff Jarvis, professor of entrepreneurial journalism at CUNY. He talks about the business of journalism, and what it takes to do sustainable in a financial point of view.



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

Twitter’s coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup is, arguably, one of the best so far – and yes, we also mean the gorgeous CartoDB maps Simon Rogers has been delivering consistently – , and in this post you’ll see some of the “data highlights” of that coverage, published right after the opening match between Brazil and Croatia.

Brazil v Croatia: how the inaugural match played out on Twitter, interactive map by Simon Rogers using CartoDB
(Brazil v Croatia: how the inaugural match played out on Twitter, by Simon Rogers using CartoDB)


Overfitting leads to public losing trust in research findings, many of which turn out to be false. In this post, Gregory Piatetsky and Anmol Rajpurohit examine some famous examples, “the decline effect”, Miss America age, and suggest approaches for avoiding overfitting.

This is Phil Bradley‘s keynote presentation to the BIALL 2014 Conference,.


MasterCard Inc, the world’s second-largest debit and credit card company, sees business booming from selling data to retailers, banks and governments on spending patterns found in the payments it processes, a top executive told Reuters. MasterCard does not give figures for its information services products but “other revenues”, which include the sale of data, grew 22 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to $341 million, outpacing the growth of total revenue dominated by payments processing, which rose 14 percent to $2.177 billion.

Recently, Burtch Works released a report with salary information for data scientists, Big Data professionals and market research professionals (available for download here). The Managing Director of Burtch Works, Linda Burtch, talks about the study and its impacts, particularly in the Healthcare industry.

Speaking of Big Data and Healthcare, researchers at IBM, Berg Pharma, Memorial Sloan Kettering, UC Berkeley and other institutions are exploring how artificial intelligence and big data can be used to develop better treatments for diseases. Article by James Temple.

Big data means many things to many people, but how broad is its impact? Consider these figures on big data and the gurus who splice it. A slideshow presented by Jeff Bertolucci.

Daniel Castro is a Senior Analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Director of the Center for Data Innovation. In this article, he speaks of how to use data to build more sustainable communities, i.e. communities that use data to minimize their environmental impact.

A panel of experts discussing the concept of Big Data and the role of data scientists in today’s entrepreneurial context.



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

Last week, the Boston Globe launched a new broadsheet section, Capital, that pairs bold visuals and graphics with in-depth political coverage. Courtney Kan talked with Design Director Dan Zedek and designer Kim Maxwell Vu, about the design philosophy that’s driving them and some highlights of the new section.

A Q&A with Abraham Thomas, co-founder and head of data at Quandl – a search engine for numerical time series data., conducted by Sarah Spickernell.



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

For this first Eyeo 2014 presentation available online, Stamen‘s Eric Rodenbeck shares some of the (hard) lessons he learned during his 14 years in business.


Mirador is a tool that provides an overview of large datasets, by visualizing their underlying dependency structures and identifying groups of explanatory variables. The best way to get started with it is to read this manual and open one of the examples after downloading the app from the homepage.

Several keynotes presented at PyData Silicon Valley 2014, that was held at the Facebook Headquarters, on May 2-4.

The usual selection of interesting reads about journalism, from the team at  Nieman Journalism Lab. This week, recommended reads include the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s online news consumption study, Ken Doctor on Time Inc.’s strategy, and The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal on method journalism.

Rasmus Bååth has admittedly a weak spot for publications that try to introduce statistics in an accessible and pedagogical way, and in this post he reviews four of those books.

This time, Andy Kriebel‘s “Makeover Monday” tackles a chart comparing the performance of various Chromebooks. Simple details that make all the difference here include adding labels for the bars, removing the unnecessary legend and including additional metrics, for comparison purposes.

More data visualization makeover, this one by Robert Rouse, a Business Intelligence Consultant, using Tableau Public to better visualize geopolitical comparisons in the U.S. Energy Mapping System.

Useful list from the folks at Python2Web, that includes both well-known applications as well as less familiar tools.

This article lists five text elements and how they can be used to enhance the meaning of any data visualization, including chart captions, data labels and legends.

A keynote delivered at the Data Visualization Summit in Boston, September 12, 2013, by Kim Ducharme and Garron Hillaire.



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

Data Viz events


Time to close another Data Viz News. As usual, feel free to let us know if we missed some interesting resource, and don’t forget to join us on our Facebook Group, 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.