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Data Viz News [11]

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June 15, 2013

Ranging from freshly released Social Media activity visualizations, new tools and amazing job opportunities, to exciting new data visualization competitions – not to mention the dozens of articles and resources -, this Data Viz News round-up is guaranteed to keep you busy for hours.

Besides the list of links that we picked for you, you might also want to check out this week’s Interactive Inspiration post, as well as our selection of favorite entries submitted to the’s Visualizing Meteorites Challenge – lots of inspiring interactive visualizations on both posts.

Moving on to the links of the week:


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

Waterloo-based startup Polychart was presented at Extreme Startups Demo Day by one of its co-founders and CEO, Lisa Zhang. According to her, the company has raised about $135,000 in seed funding, and it will be seeking a second round of funding at the end of the summer.

GitHub announced the latest addition to its visualization family – geographic data. Any .geojson file in a GitHub repository will now be automatically rendered as an interactive, browsable map, annotated with your geodata.

Partial screen capture of the example of Geographic data on GitHub
(image: GitHub)

With 4 billion check-ins on Foursquare, the company just made available a new visualization tool that allows any user to re-live their check-ins. If you want to give it a try, you can access the Foursquare Time Machine here.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Foursquare Time Machine
(image: Foursquare Time Machine screenshot, via Mashable)

Twitter is seeking an experienced BI Tools Specialist to join the Analytics team. The responsibilities include integrate Tableau and other third party BI tools with Twitter’s stack of homemade and open-source frameworks, lead internal training efforts for Tableau usage inside the company and “Partner with managers and tech leads from different parts of the organization to develop the product roadmap for offerings that leverage Tableau reports, our infrastructure and create awesome insights for our organization”,

After the success of its previous edition, the 2013 Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards was just announced, and it’s open for submissions until August, 30. Visit the competition’s website for all the info.

A new visualization challenge launched by, this time partnering with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Health 2.0. There are $30,000 in prizes, but you can only participate if you’re a U.S. Citizen and you’ll also need to pre-register at Health 2.0. The deadline for submissions is August, 25, and you’ll find all the details here.

Vizify, a data driven graphical biography service, has partnered with Twitter to roll out a new feature that allows the user to create a short video biography automatically. According to The Next Web, the service looks at the last 3,200 most recent tweets and up to the 800 most recent mentions and replies for any particular user. And we can expect more visualization awesomeness from Vizify, now that Santiago Ortiz has joined the team for a short period.


Another great job opening, this time from the World Bank. The Data Visualization Graphic Designer will design and produce static and interactive data visualizations using World Bank Open Data to be used in social media and on websites. Read the details here.

The organization of the 2CO_COmmunicating COmplexity conference announced the guidelines for those interested in submitting their papers. Abstracts will be about 400 words long and must be submitted until July, 15t. Authors of accepted papers will be notified by August the 30th. The submission procedure will be available soon here.

In our latest edition of Digital Cartography, we mentioned this post by Nathan Yau, where he talks about Map Stack by Stamen. The idea behind this tool is to make it radically simpler for people to design their own maps, without having to know any code, install any software, or even do any typing.



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

In this article, Shazna Nessa explains visual literacy and why it’s critical for data visualizers to take it seriously, featuring some case studies applied to data journalism.

Sheila Pontis takes on one of the most discussed topics in the data visualization field today: The Definition of Information Design, something that seems to be spread through many different fields of expertise.

Definitions of information design are varied, but they tend to be too narrow, too broad, too vague, or unclear. An agreed and integrated definition of information design which fully determines its goals, boundaries, processes, skill sets, rationale, and range of problems it can solve, is hard to find.

Information Design definitions
(image: Sheila Pontis)

In the midst of the rumors that Google is deep in negotiations to buy Waze, a social mapping service used by millions of drivers around the world, for more than $1 billion, Vindu Gowl shares his thoughts on what the acquisition could mean.

Dr. Wibo Bakker is based in Utrecht and works an educator, researcher and consultant with a special interest in design history, standardisation, information design, branding. This paper provides an historical perspective to the evolution of pictogram standards between 1963 and 1986.

Randy Krum continues his series of guest posts on Cool Infographics, this time with Matt Siltala, the President of internet marketing firm Avalaunch Media.

This month on, the topic of exploration is being featured, and this post revisits some of the infographics published in partnership with folks like Column Five Media, Part & Parcel and Graham Roberts.

The social network between characters in Homer’s Odyssey is remarkably similar to real social networks today. That suggests the story is based, at least in part, on real events, say researchers from the Federal Technological University of Paraná, in Brazil.

Luke Clum writes about the rise of interactive infographics and microsites as the way for designers, marketers and businesses to keep taking advantage of this form of visual communication.



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

Among all the new words added to the 2013 Oxford Dictionary (like “Crowdsourcing,” “mouseover,” “big data,” “redirect” and “geekery”), you’ll find ‘Big Data”, defined as:

big data n. Computing (also with capital initials) data of a very large size, typically to the extent that its manipulation and management present significant logistical challenges; (also) the branch of computing involving such data.


Also related to the NSA/Prism scandal, Antonio Regalado tries to explain why Google fears the totalitarian connotations of the buzzword big data.

Two opposite points of view on the ‘DIY data science’ growing trend, by Francesca Louise Fenzi in this article for She quotes blogger and venture capitalist Fred Wilson and Shrikant Narasimhan, a data scientist and author of the blog TechSwamp.

Businesses have been trying to crack sentiment analysis and social reach metrics for years withour great success, and John Burn-Murdoch uncovers the challenges of turning social analytics into the gold mine it was always meant to be.

Elite Traders Are Getting Access To Data Before Everyone Else | Business Insider

The controversial behind Thomson Reuters’ service called “ultra-low latency,” which allows premium customers to get privileged access to reports and numbers seconds before they’re released to the general public. The impacts on the stock market can be huge.

A deep and quite interesting article by Forbe’s regular contributor, Gil Press. In it, Press alerts to the lack of discussion around “the wisdom of collecting all phone call records and lots of other data in the fight against terrorism or other threats to the United States”.

Faith in the power (especially the predictive power) of more data is of course a central tenet of the religion of big data and it looks like the NSA has been a willing convert.

A general overview of how one of the world’s biggest companies has been incorporating Big Data into its business analytics starttegies, way before the term even became popular.



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

An interview with Benjamin Wiederkehr, founding partner of and of the design studio Interactive Things, about everything a data journalist should know about tools, trends, dos and don’ts in data visualization.

Our latest interview, with information design expert Jan Willem Tulp. Jan shared his thoughts on a number of topics with us, including his work and career, the current and future state of of data visualization and more.

Jan Willem Tulp
(interview with Jan Willem Tulp)



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

The creator of d3, Mike Bostock, published in his website a transcript of his talk at Eyeo, earlier this month. A great opportunity to see some of many data visualization examples he has been developing for the past years.

Another one of Eyeo 2013’s speakers, Sha Hwang published the notes used to prepare the presentation. Includes references and useful links.

In this session, presented at the State of the Map US – San Francisco 2013, Andrew Hill demonstrates how CartoDB can be used to store, manage, and sort OSM data, and then be used to combine dynamic data with OSM layers to create real-time maps.

Andrew Hill - Using OpenStreetMap Data to Build Your Dynamic Maps

Ralph Starumman shares some details detail about what led to the Swiss cantons (states) and their population numbers (in German or in French.) and what conceptual thinking went into the design.

Thanks to the recent release of RStudio of their “0-cloud” CRAN log files, Tal Galili was able to put together a list with the top 100 (most downloaded) R packages in 2013.

Another ‘behind the scenes’ article, this one by Martina Frantzen, an intern at Interactive Things that submitted a visualization to’s Visualizing Meteorites Challenge.

Partial screen capture of the interactive data visualization, Extraterrestrial Impacts
(image: Martina Frantzen |

Signed by Dr. Genie Stowers (San Francisco State University) this is an interesting report(pdf) from The IBM Center for the Business of Government, about the best ways to visualize data. It presents case studies on how visualization techniques are now being used by two local governments, one state government, and three federal government agencies.

Tapestry’s blog was updated with two more ‘short story’ presentations, from the inaugural Tapestry Conference in February 2013. Bryan Connor of The Why Axis presented the talk “Critics, Critique and Critical Visualization”, and Hannah Fairfield presented “The Art of Honest Theft”. The slides are also available for downloading here..

An explanation about Nutiteq 3D maps SDK for Android, a quick and simple way to publish your CartoDB data to mobile devices as a native Android application. Basic Nutiteq SDK usage is available in tutorials in the wiki page.

[email protected] is the Tufts University instance of OpenGeoportal, a great open source repository of geospatial data. Users can view any of the geo-data layers directly on the map by selecting the layer or save the selected layer for download.

A recent presentation to analysts in public policy, government, economics and related fields about how to give better presentations. An expanded version of the handout that was circulated with this presentation can be found on Jon’s website.

A re-writing of Shutterstock’s Rickshaw tutorial, made with slidify and rCharts.

A couple of recommended graph digitizing tool to help you extract the data from an image of an existing chart.

Jon Schwabish takes on some alternatives to present the values on a chart without compromising its readability. The comment thread is also worth checking.

Emiland de Cuber found a clever way to promote her services by re-designing the infamous NAS/PRISM Powerpoint presentation. continues to invite data visualization experts to feature their favorite data visualization projects. The latest one was put together by the folks at Density Design.

Partial screen capture of the Visualizing Cultural Data infographic gallery



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

Data Visualization Events calendar
(Our updated Data Visualization Events calendar)


EuroVis 2013 is the 15th annual Visualization Symposium organized by the Eurographics Working Group on Data Visualization and the IEEE Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee. The conference will be held in Leipzig, Germany. More details here.

E2 highlights the new choices and challenges organizations face as a result of the ongoing shifts in technology, providing the audience of decision makers in IT, marketing and other lines of business, a progressive forum to engage in discussions about the future of software, and how to mold their strategies for business success. It will happen at the Boston Marriott Copley Place.

GEN has an exciting lineup of prestigious keynote speakers, sessions, and innovative programme highlights including the Editors’ Lab International Hackathon, the Data Journalism Awards and the Drone Journalism Bootcamp. The event will take place ion Paris, France.

This one-day workshop provides a well-rounded overview of the field of data visualization and the tools and strategies you need to create better graphic visualizations. The instructor is Jonathan Schwabish, and it’s held in Washington, D.C.


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.