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Data Viz News [71]

Our weekly hand-picked selection of articles, interviews, tutorials and other resources

October 4, 2014

It’s been now a week since the Online News Association announced the winners of the 2014 Online Journalism Awards winners, and in case you haven’t had the chance to browse trough some of the top investigative journalism projects of the year, it’s sure worth the time – and ONA’s YouTube Channel is being updated with the conference videos.

Another great event of 2014 had next year’s edition officially launched. OpenVis 2015 will take place in April 6th & 7th of 2015, and we even had the opportunity to interview one of the persons behind this event, Irene Ros, so check it out.

And while were at the events topic, were beginning to prepare our 2015 events calendar, so feel free to let us know if there’s a conference, workshop, seminar or meeting related to data visualization that you think our readers will appreciate. We’ll have all the big ones, of course, but we’re also interested in local/regional events – even if they’re in a language other than English.

As for today’s recommended links, well, what can we say? More than 60 suggested articles, presentations and resources, ending up a week that was packed with news – including here on Visualoop, with a glimpse at our new logo:

The first draft of our new logo

Hope you enjoy the links of the week:


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

Like we mentioned in the introduction, the 2014 Online Journalism Awards winners were announced a week ago, with The Seattle Times and Calgary Herald dominating the Breaking News categories.The two newest OJA categories, the $7,500 University of Florida Awards in Investigative Data Journalism, were won by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s examination of screening programs for newborns with rare diseases and MPR News for the cover-up of sexual abuse within the Catholic church. At the 14th annual awards dinner, ONA also announced a new award for 2015, the James Foley Award, honoring work by reporters in conflict zones and named for the Global Post freelancer killed in Syria in August.

Also mentioned in the introduction, the third OpenVis Conf will take place on April 6th & 7th of 2015, in Boston. The Call for Speakers is now officially open, and this year they’re adding a little extra twist: not only can you submit a talk, but you can also suggest a topic OpenVis Conf should cover or even a specific speaker you’d like to see.

A stellar panel of experts was announced as the 2014 Kamtar Information is Beautiful Awards jury, with names like Alberto Cairo, Giorgia Lupi, Stefanie Posavec, and Nathan Yau getting ready to evaluate the entries from all over the world.

In this age of post-legacy media, local reporters, activists, ordinary citizens—and traditional foreign correspondents—are all now using digital technologies to inform the world of breaking news, and to offer analysis and opinions on global trends. These important changes are documented in the Tow Center’s report The New Global Journalism: Foreign Correspondence in Transition. Available for download here.

The Instituto Internacional de Ciências Sociais has launched its 2014 program on data jourrnalism and visualization. The course will take place 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Nov. 24 to 28 in São Paulo. Among the instructors are former ICFJ Knight fellows Mariana Santos (Fusion, Chicas Poderoas), Gustavo Faleiros (InfoAmazonia, Earth Journalism Network), Sandra Crucianelli (SoloLocal), Alberto Cairo (University of Miami), Marcelo Soares (Folha de S. Paulo) and others. For more information (in Portuguese), click here.

Twitter and MIT announced last Wednesday the Laboratory for Social Machines, a new group that will study human behavior and events on social media.The group will be led by Deb Roy, associate professor at the Media Lab and co-founder of Cambridge startup BlueFin Labs, which Twitter acquired in 2013.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announced the selection of 14 Moore Investigators in Data-Driven Discovery. These scientists will catalyze new data-driven scientific discoveries through grants to their academic institutions totaling $21 million over five years. The selected Investigators are listed here.

2014 is the first year for the UN’s International Day to End Impunity, and is helping UNESCO run an infographic contest to help raise awareness of the cause. Submissions should highlight the data that UNESCO has compiled on the killings of media workers worldwide from 2006-2013. The goal behind this contest is to create original visual material that will heighten global awareness of the issue of impunity, and its devastating effect on journalist safety and freedom of expression.

Collaboration between investigative site The Detail and Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action will see 30 major data projects and training in the community over three years. Alastair Reid tells the story.

Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza has launched a digital data journalism platform to offer more interactive and visual content to its paying subscribers. The priority of, which launched this week, is data visualisation, and the website allows users to explore the data and engage with it by clicking on the visuals or using sliders.

The Insight Centre for Data Analytics has appointed Oliver Daniels as CEO. Oliver Daniels will lead the €75 million SFI Research Centre as it firmly positions Ireland at the heart of global data analytics research. He joins Insight from Avaya, where he has served as R&D Leader of Research & Development for Contact Center Applications at Avaya for the last five years.

Originally founded in the Czech Republic but now based in San Francisco, GoodData, a cloud-based big data analytics firm annunced a $25.7 million round of funding led by Intel Capital, with participation also from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Tenaya Capital, TOTVS, Next World Capital, Windcrest, and Pharus Capital. This is a Series E round for the company, which has raised $101.2 million to date, and comes as the company is reportedly eyeing up an IPO in 2016.

In recent months, the Urban Institute begun to use data visualization, video, graphics, multimedia, and magazine-style features to convey insights from research. Now they unveiled a new logo, under the tagline “Elevate the debate”



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

Infographics, at their best, are elegant, streamlined visual capsules of information that help us process complex data at a glance. In Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks by Steven Heller and Rick Landers, out in October, more than 50 leading graphic designers and illustrators from around the world share their creative processes behind the art and science of data visualization.

An infographic by Jan Hartwig for the book Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks by Steven Heller and Rick Landers


One of the top data visualization blogs has completed another year. Robert Kosara’s insightful – and sometimes harsh – posts are a regular presence in these weekly round ups, and we’d like to extend our congratulations to him for keeping up this space up to date.

In this article, Scott Klein shares his experience with an exercise he first heard about in this Data Stories episode. Here’s how he describes it: “After I’d gotten the preliminaries done — jibber-jabber about myself, point at the syllabus, ask them about themselves, hold up the assigned reading, any questions? any overtallies? — I’d take out a few carefully-chosen examples of data visualizations and show them to the students. One of them would be a classic, one of them would be terrible, one would be really good, and etc. During the exercise, they were to gather into groups, talk for a little while about the visualizations, and then present their ideas to the class.” The outcome might surprise you.

Mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, The Graphic Continuum is a poster taxonomy of different types of charts, and how they all relate to each other, authored by our friend Jon Schwabish and Severino Ribecca (who created and runs The Data Visualisation Catalogue). Here, Jon tells a bit more about how the project came to reality.

The latest contribution by Andy Cotgreave on The Huffington Post is all about collaboration and conversation between practioners.

Humans are social creatures. We learn through conversations. Our opinions sway and change with the ebb and flow of these conversations. Imagine being able to have this conversation with data.


In this post, Alasdair Rae focuses on some fundamental open data questions and offers two concrete examples where open data has increased transparency, improved access to information and helped places begin to understand and solve problems.

Another amazing animated “gifographic’ by Eleanor Lutz. Enough said.

Flight videos deconstructed



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

“Web mapping is beginning to show signs of getting beyond the infantile and maturing from its pubescent phase and this example shows what can be achieved when you consider the entire user experience.” Impressive, if we take in consideration that it’s Kenneth Field saying these words about a mapping project. One of the highlights of the latest Digital Cartography post, Luminocity 3D was created by Duncan Smith of CASA, Bartlett UCL.

Partial screen capture of the interactive map Luminocity 3D
(image: Duncan Smith)


The project ReMap Lima applies new technologies to older ideas of participatory mapping, with the hope of uncovering otherwise ‘invisible’ change and engaging communities with problem solving in their local areas. It is a collaboration between several different units at UCL, working alongside a Swiss NGO, Drone Adventures, Fora Ciudades Para La Vida (Cities for Life Forum, Peru), and local community organisations in Lima.

The folks at Vox seem to be enjoying their own maps round ups. This week we have two of those, with Ezra Klein signing this first one. The maps and charts featured here cover a wide range of topics – perhaps too wide.

And here’s the second compilation by Vox, co-authored by Sarah Kliff, Joe Posner, and Joss Fong. Here, the terrible Ebola outbreak is at the center of attentions.

Software developer Todd W. Schneider built an interactive Shiny application that uses simulated annealing to solve the famous traveling salesman problem. Here’s an animation of the annealing process finding the shortest path through the 48 state capitals of the contiguous United States:

The Traveling Salesman with Simulated Annealing, R, and Shiny


A couple of years ago the Google Data Arts team released the WebGL Globe as an open platform for geographic data visualization and since then we have seen some great examples of data visualizations built, as showed in this post by Keir Clarke.

The latest issue of CartoDB‘s periodic selection of interactive maps spotted in the wild was also mentioned here on Visualoop. But with such a great selection, we thought it would be nice to bring it here once again.

This animated visualization uses data from Google Trends to show the global spread of the Ice Bucket Challenge over a 30 day period (August 6th – September 7th).



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

Tanveer Ali notes that, while companies started compiling data for profit, resulting troves contain vast storytelling potential. Examples given in this article include Twitter, Facebook, and Nike, and it also mentions Christian Rudder‘s book Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One is Looking) – a book that has been receiving very good reviews.

At the Online News Association Conference in Chicago last week, Meredith Artley moderated a session on “lady leaders” in the media world, and Ashley Nguyen shares the key insights of that conversation with a Storify stream. You can also watch the video at ONA’s website.

Speaking of the Online News Association Conference, this is Amy Webb‘s annual presentation on the most important trends for journalists, given at the event.


One year after the launch of De Correspondent, co-founder Ernst-Jan Pfauth posted his “Lessons from year one of De Correspondent” on Medium and declared the startup a success. 17,000 new subscribers have signed up since the launch, while more than half the total crowdfunding group of 18,933 people have renewed their €60 ($76)/ year subscription. Story by Lene Bech Sillesen .

The Washington Post’s CIO and VP of digital product development, Shailesh Prakash, explains to Catalina Albeanu the challenges of monetizing the mobile web, and the importance of building technology in-house and investing in good design. One of our favorite quotes:

Accept and understand that while journalism and content is still king, design and quality of products is equally important.


It’s always great to hear about data journalism initiatives taking place in less developed regions. Among the organizations doing a great job in places like Africa, the Middle East and Latin America is School of Data. Here, Hannah Williams talks about first local Code for South Africa School of Data workshops in Johannesburg and Cape Town for journalists and civil society.

The African Story Challenge is a US$1 million program of reporting grants to encourage innovative, multimedia storytelling that aims to improve the health and prosperity of Africans. Finalists in the latest round of the contest recently attended a weeklong bootcamp in Marrakech, Morocco to learn about best practices in data journalism and digital media, and Patrick Butler and Kendall McCabe share some of the boot camp’s best tips for journalists in this Storify stream.

This is Trevor Butterworth‘s take on the Washington Post’s Wonkblog story “Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you.”. The source for the controversial chart in question is “Paying the Tab” a book by Phillip J. Cook, published in 2007.

The risk for wonk journalism is that you either lose in audience as you expand in analysis, or you dumb down and end up dumb. The rub is, you can’t tell good data from bad without doing analysis.



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

As organizations seek to not simply corral data, but apply it strategically across the business, analytics experts are making their way into the C-suite. Long post by Rob O’Regan, who spoke with several acting Chief Analytics Officers about the challenges and opportunities this new position brings with it.

It’s a fact: these days employers are resorting to big data analytics and other new methods to help make the fraught process of hiring and firing more scientific and effective. For job hunters, this means success is now as much to do with your online data trail as your finely crafted CV, as BBC News’ Business reporter Matthew Wall explains in this article.

To make highly informed decisions quickly, organizational leaders need to be able to access and interpret data in real-time. Here are the top five benefits that data visualization offers to decision makers and their organizations – a list pulled together by Brian Gentile, Senior VP and General Manager, TIBCO Analytics Product Group, TIBCO Software.

“With the Centers for Disease Control now forecasting up to 1.4 million new infections from the current Ebola outbreak, what could “big data” do to help us identify the earliest warnings of future outbreaks and track the movements of the current outbreak in realtime?”. This question by Kalev H. Leetaru comes after Harvard’s HealthMap service made world headlines for monitoring early mentions of the current Ebola outbreak on March 14, 2014, “nine days before the World Health Organization formally announced the epidemic,” and issuing its first alert on March 19. The problem is that this story isn’t quite true: By the time HealthMap monitored its very first report, the Guinean government had actually already announced the outbreak and notified the WHO.

Silicon Valley is obsessed with data collection, including personal data. But for David Carr, when it comes to health and fitness monitoring technologies, the real goal must be meaningful health results.



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

“It’s All Journalism” podcast producers Michael O’Connell and Megan Cloherty are joined by Jeff Jarvis, media pundit and professor at the City University of New York’s Journalism School, and Mandy Jenkins, the open news editor at Storyful, live on the Midway floor at the 2014 Online News Association annual conference in Chicago on Thursday, Sept. 24.

With interconnectivity rising as an economic and cultural ideal, the way we see the ever-growing number of data points around us becomes more crucial as analytics becomes a core business activity. In this context, the guys at Data Informed spoke with Datawatch Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Ben Plummer about his thoughts on the forces shaping data visualization today.

Data visualization expert Stephanie Evergreen recently visited New Zealand and caught up with Jane Davidson to talk about helping people totally transform their reporting. This 14-minute podcast is the third of a series of four from Jane and Stephanie.

In preparation for the INMA European Conference in Tallinn, Estonia, thge organization spoke to one of the featured speakers, Anthony Hamelle, director at Applied Works, a London-based digital and technology studio helping media and other companies tell stories with data.

And yet another mention to this week’s top interview here on Visualoop, with developer and data visualization expert Irene Ros. We managed to ask Irene a few questions about OpenVis Conference and all the other great stuff she’s been doing at Bocoup, her career in programming and data visualization, and how she thinks the field will evolve in the next years.

Irene Ros Featured



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

You’d assume that with so much data journalism going on out there that we have record amounts of data curated ready to be downloaded and used. But that’s not always the case. This is a work in process by Simon Rogers, and the idea is pretty straight-forward: gather the links to all the places where the major data journalism websites make the data used in their stories available.

Presentation by Mikko Jarvenpaa , COO at, making the case for data literacy as the social responsibility of the data industry.


Back in 2009, Aaron Bycoffe inspired Joe Germuska to write a thirty-line Python script called “csvcut” for making it easy to select a subset of columns from a CSV file. For the next two years the two of them went back and forth forking and making small revisions to this tool. In 2011, csvcut evolved to csvkit with the addition of other tools, and now, to celebrate the latest release, Christopher Groskopf shares eleven of his favorite things you can do with csvkit.

In this session, Angela Bassa, Manager of the Data Science Team at EnerNOC, covering design concepts, narrative structure, and the principles of good quantitative data visualization.


This tutorial by Tomomi Imura is a quick showcase of what can be done with D3 and PubNub. The bubble chart demo shows the current activity by regional data center of all of the global communications across the PubNub Data Stream Network.

Tableau’s JavaScript API enables interactivity with different parts of a web page. In this post, Robert Rouse shows some examples of data visualizations and dashboards that combine D3.js and Tableau.

And more D3.js, with this keynote delivered by Kristina Durivage at Midwest JS 2014.


One of the many interesting sessions of Tableau’a latest annual conference was the one about data blogging, with Andy Kriebel, Jewel Loree and Peter Gilks. Here, Andy shares the video of the full session.

Visualization is one of the best ways to tell stories from data, but visualizations can also mislead and confuse. In this presentation, Libby Hemphill, Assistant Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, introduces a few exercises you can use with your students to help them learn to design effective information visualizations.


Jeremy Stucki on the principles and different techniques of animation, at The Graphical Web 2014 conference.


A summary guide to data visualization design, including key design principles, great resources, and tools (listed by category with short explanations) that you can use to help design elegant, effective data visualizations that help share your message & promote the use of your information.



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. 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.


    Designed properly, a good business dashboard is an indispensable tool that informs with a glance. SQIAR is a leading Business Intelligence Consultancy; provides Tableau Software consultancy in United Kingdom and USA.