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Data Viz News [6]

Our special selection of weekend reads, interviews, resources and videos.

May 11, 2013

Among all the interesting stories, articles and resources that came across our way this week, there’s one we have to mention before anything else. It was a great pleasure to see Randall Hand getting back to his activity with VizWorld. After some months dealing with a lot of changes (see Randall’s “I’m Back“post for more on that), we can now expect a constant stream of news related to computers graphics, visualization and science. If you don’t follow VizWorld yet, just go ahead and subscribe to the RSS and join the community on Twitter and Facebook.

Now, here’s the list of recommended links for the weekend:



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

One of the top stories of the week was this Presidential Executive Order about Governmental Open Data, issued by the White House.

The National Design Awards program celebrates design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world, and the 2013 winners were announced earlier this week.

Partial screen capture of the National Design Awards website
(image: National Design Awards winners)

Dr Bernhard Haslhofer (University of Vienna) and Dr Robyn Adams (Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, University College London), were the winners of the this competition, that challenged humanities academics and technologists to see if they could come up with innovative ideas for small technology projects that would further humanities research by using open content, open data and/or open source.

Google will be providing training on how to use Google fusion tables, Google forms and Spreadsheet, Advanced Search 2.0 application, Google Earth Maps and Crowd Sourcing with the Social Media, to enhance news gathering by Nigerian journalists.

A new project that aims to improve the use of data in this region where data sets too often fail to show up where they should, and when they do, are scattered about the web at governmental repositories and multiple independent repositories where the data is removed too quickly.

Chosen by Popular Vote, the cover of the 34th annual SND Best of News Design book was announced by the Sociaty of News Design. It was crated by Osama Aljawish.

Cover of the 34th annual SND Best of News Design book, by  Osama Aljawish
(image: Cover of the 34th annual SND Best of News Design book, by Osama Aljawish)

Splunk, which has been on a partnership tear of late, forged a partnership with Cloudera so the two enterprise Hadoop players can easily swap data between platforms.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the journal Science created the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge to celebrate the grand tradition of science visualization and to encourage its continued growth. You can submit your project until September 30, 2013.

MapBox Earth is a free and open source iOS app, and it includes beautiful preloaded layers based off of MapBox Streets, MapBox Terrain, and MapBox Satellite.

The latest data visualization challenge from is focused on the removal requests in Google’s Transparency Report. The deadline for submissions is June 27 and the winners of the $5,000 in prizes will be known a few weeks later, July 11. More information here.

Professor Peter Bol describes in this video his Hauser Grant project (Geospatial education at Harvard: A new course in mapping and spatial perspectives) where he plans to develop a new course on spatial reasoning, cartography, and geographic analysis.

Over 2.700 people from 47 countries have signed for the new Knight Center’s Data Journalism MOOC in Spanish. It’s a five-week course, and will be ministered by the Argentinian journalist Sandra Crucianelli. You can still register here.



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

A straight-to-the-point post by Stephen Few, about quantitative data presentation effectiveness.

After the release of the Presidential Executive Order mentioned above, Simon Rogers compares how do the US and UK approaches on this matter differ.

An analysis on how the British news industry presented the data of the Local Council elections in England and Wales, and how they used data visualization to enhance the media coverage.

The history behind the famous “hockey stick” climate change graph, that has been used to alert about the impacts we’re creating with our human activity.

This post by Andy Kirk generated some interesting comments, about an issue that is present in the daily lifes of those working especially with visual journalism and information design.

The inside scoop on Column Five’s work for the USA Today, refreshing its infographic style and visual language to coincide with a rebranding that was already underway with Wolff Olins.

We’ve already mentioned the PBS video, The Art of Data Visualization, and this is the post where Stephen Few criticizes the lack of consistency displayed in the message. You can why Stephen was so upset in the PBS video below:


Daniel Huffman talks about the changing role of cartographers, as well as the challenges and opportunities brought with the constant development of new tools and technologies.

Freelance cartographer Hans van der Maarel, of Red Geographics and Cartotalk, wrote this article about what has to be done to promote maps as a legitimate and valuable form of communication.

Our own Tiago Veloso was invited by Randy Krum to contribute to his new series of guest posts, about what makes an infographic ‘cool’.



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

The tech talent shortage in the US and the newly released Big Data Jobs Index the object of this article by Todd Nevins, Co-founder and Director of Marketing & Business Development of icrunchdata.

Big Data scientists need to have a wide range of skills that until now did not even fit into one department, and in this post you’ll find out which of are the disciplines you have to be familiar with to be successful in such a career.

A guest post on Visualising Data by Johanna Morariu and Ann Emery, on how data visualization can help all kinds of business reports, regardless the type of company or content you’re dealing with.

Since Tom Davenport and D.J. Patil said in their Harvard Business Review article that being a data scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st century, a reasonable amount of articles have been published with arguments both favorable and against this statement. Here’s another one by Bernard Marr.



The latest insights from well-known names in the data visualization field, collected from interviews published during last week.

The latest episode of Moritz Stefaner and Enrico Bertini‘s podcast, this time with a great conversation with Mike Bostock and Shan Carter, from The New York Times.

Colleen Macklin, John Sharp and Heather Chaplin answer a few questions bout the Data Toys project, a Knight-funded prototype, which allow people to play with information as a way to reveal the complex systems underlying news and trends.

Claire Miller was recently been appointed as senior data journalist for the Trinity Mirror, and talks in this interview about new role and the developing field of data journalism.

Again from the folks at Interhacktives, an interview, this time with Nick Scott, data manager at, an award winning platform that aims to make extracting data from the internet simple.

The Italian branch of Wired magazine published an interview (in Italian) with “The Functional Art”‘s author Alberto Cairo. English translation, via Google Translator, here.

Former investigations executive editor of The Guardian David Leigh was at #dataharvest13 to discuss his participation in ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks project.



Ranging from tutorials and presentations to lists of tools and practical guidelines for creating effective data visualizations, here’s where you’ll find all the latest resources to keep improving your information design skills.

Written by Tony Hirst, this tutorial explains how to refine search queries based on information about a website’s architecture, on the format of documents we desire to find, or simply by knowing the address of the website we are likely to find the information on.

After Shan Carter, Kevin Quealy and Joe Ward published the ‘making of’  of one of the NYT’s latest visualizations – the one about the rise of strikeouts in Major League Baseball -,  Ben Jones used Tableau Public to illustrate the differences between scatterplots and dual axis line plots.

Lisa Williams continues her series of data visualization tutorials, this time showing how to create a sortable and searchable table of data.

A list of simple and common tools that are particularly useful for data journalism.

A much bigger list than the previous one, with some apps and services that are being used for years now, while others are still new in the business.

Map Icons Designer is a set of 200 Map icons in PSD Vector Shape & PNG format. They can be used as Google Map Icons, Location Markers, Point of Interests (POI) on any Maps.

Nathan Yau shares a chapter of his recently launched book, Data Points: Visualization That Means Something.

Alberto Cairo‘s presentation given earlier this month at the Complexity & Context Data Journalism Symposium, in Berkeley.


At the International Journalism Festival in Perugia late last month, a tutorial was delivered by freelance information visualizer Gregor Aisch, on three key tools for building data visualisations “on a shoestring”. These tutorials are now available on YouTube:



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


The 22nd International World Wide Web Conference will happen in Rio de Janeiro, and it includes several keynotes and workshops about data visualization. We talked about this event here.


Captura de tela parcial do site do WWW 2013
The WWW 2013 Conference starts May, 13th in Rio de Janeiro


The speakers of this new conference will discuss best practices for data processing, storytelling, visual design, code structure and implementation. It will happen in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and you can get more info here.

Open Viz Conference
A new conference will discuss best practices for data processing, storytelling, visual design, code structure and implementation.


We close here 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.