by Infogram
Create infographics

Data Viz News [12]

Dozens of links to fresh data visualization resources, articles and interviews

June 22, 2013

This was an intense week at a global scale, and we’re not just talking about major events, like the NBA Finals, Edward Snowden’s situation, the terrible floods in Canada or the massive protests in Brazil.

For the data visualization community, this was the week when we got the meet the 2013 Data Journalism Awards winners, during the Global Editors Network annual summit. New amazing interactive visualization projects were released, The New York Times took on Big Data in a special section of the website – not to mention the set of maps with geotagged tweets that MapBox posted.

Speaking of Twitter, after releasing its web analytics tool a week ago and the presentation by Deb Roy, Chief Media Scientist at Twitter, during Cannes Lions 2013 (included the TV x Twitter data visualization video), the company seems to have decided to move towards the online mapping business, with the acquisition of Spindle. Interesting to see what this will bring to the digital cartography world, considering that Google just bought Wase, a real-time social map network based in Israel, for US$ 1 billion.

A final note to Manuel Lima, who announced on Twitter that he will be leaving his position at Microsft to join Code Academy‘s team. Congratulations to Manuel – who we’ve interviewed recently – , and we wish him the best of lucks!

Here is this week’s full list of recommended links:



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

Another breaking story by The Guardian with new revelations from the Edward Snowden’s documents. This time, the focus of the scandal is the British intelligence agency GCHQ, who has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic and started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information, sharing it with the National Security Agency (NSA).

The sheer scale of the agency’s ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.

Twitter has acquired Spindle, a social startup focused on the location and check-in space, and discovering local places of interest nearby. The Spindle team will be relocating and joining the Twitter team in San Francisco and the service was already suspended.

Facebook reported recently a bug in its system “that may have allowed some of a person’s contact information (email or phone number) to be accessed by people who either had some contact information about that person or some connection to them.” According to the company, there’s no evidence that this bug has been exploited maliciously, and they’re are now in the process of notifying affected users via email.

Information management software developer Datawatch closed the acquisition of Panopticon Software, a supplier of data visualization and discovery tools, in a deal valued at $31.4 million. According to the release published on both companies’ websites, “by combining the Datawatch Information Optimization Platform’s ability to access virtually an data source, regardless of its structure, with Panopticon’s ability to deliver real-time data through a visual discovery paradigm, customers and partners will be able to deliver applications that utilize the greatest variety of data, delivered at the speed of business, in an impactful visual environment.”

The geojournalism platform InfoAmazonia just completed one year and as part of the celebration, they created a small promo video to show the features of tool. Congratulations to Gustavo Faleiro and team for such a great job.

In his blog, the head of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, Daniel Sinker, announced the opening of applications to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow. The project places developers and technologists with news organizations for 10 months of hacking, experimenting, and building new open-source tools for journalism.

Nonprofit organization Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) made a partnership with Tableau Software, maker of Tableau Public, to provide Tableau Desktop free to IRE Members.

The Guardian’s James Ball and The Times social media editor Nick Petrie will be among the judges evaluating the data interactive category in the Guardian’s annual Student Media Awards. The closing date for all entries is 28 June, other useful information about the competition is available here.

The Guardian's Student Media Awards 2013
The Guardian’s Student Media Awards 2013



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

Enrico Bertini shares his thoughts about three research papers that deal with automatic annotation of data visualizations.

An interesting – and practical – read from Steve Wexle, a Certified Tableau Trainer who walks us through some of the chart types that have proven to be helpful for him, and yet are not so well-known by a lot of data visualization beginners.

By enabling massive amounts of information to be quickly understood by any interested party, crisis mapping increases public awareness on a exponential scale and, if properly put together, allows for quicker responses to crises. Saskia Rotshuizen talks about one of those tools, the LRA Crisis Tracker, created back in 2011 as a response to the Makombo Massacres in DR Congo.

In this article, Moran Barkai talks about the logic that led to the creation of Safecast in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, and how the team,
 emboldened by the success of their radiation measurement devices, is working on developing tools to measure air pollution and air quality.

After President Obama’s statement that ‘nobody is listening to your calls’, John Naughton points out the true value of metadata, illustrating it with an example from 4 years ago, when German Green party politician, Malte Spitz, sued to have Deutsche Telekom hand over six months of his phone data that he then made available to Zeit Online. The result was an animated reconstruction of a day in his life:

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Tell-all telephone
(image: Zeit Online)

For Brent Tully’s 70th birthday, a group of his friends and collaborators teamed up to throw a conference celebrating his work. They released a video of his cosmic map in 3D, showing not only all the visible structures but also the unseen dark matter, and illustrates the dynamic behavior of the whole universe.

Data visualization expert Michael Babwahshsingh‘s thoughts on what the visualization space should look like and how it should get there.

After a thrilling week for sports fans, Twitter released some data about the number of messages published around the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup games. Includes this fun Vine data-video:

In this post, Rani Moll looks at the lessons designers should learn from Edward Tufte‘s stone structures in his sprawling Connecticut sculpture park. With the help of stone worker Dan Snow, Tufte assembled hundreds of tons of native rock into towering sculptures for Continuous Silent Megaliths: Structures of Unknown Significance.

Tiffany brings up a few key points about the rise of ‘bad info-posters’, created by agencies without any notions of what data visualization and infographics should be used for.

Data visualisation and information design is so incredibly useful and powerful when done right. It frustrates me that these bad examples have unfortunately become the norm, subsequently resulting in the condemnation of infographics as a whole.

The co-founder and CEO of, John T. Meyer, talks about the use of infographics as a communication tool and why they’re so efficient.



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

Venture capital firm Accel Partners announced that it has dedicated $100 million for a new investment fund called Big Data Fund 2. The fund is the same size as Accel’s first big data focused fund, which launched with $100 million back in November 2011.

As reported by Venture Beat’s Julie O’Dell, SpaceCurve, a startup founded in 2009 by J. Andrew Rogers “that lives to suss out massive amounts of location, social, sensor, and timeline data”, has just raised $10 million in investment in its second institutional round of funding.

An article by Darrel Etherington, mentioning two crowdsourcing weather data startups (SkyMotion and Weddar) as the next in line for a possible acquisition by a tech giant.

This is just one of the articles available in NYT’s new section about Big Data. It was written by Steve Lohr, and includes this graphic about the estimated growth of the volume of information:

(image: The New York Times)
(image: The New York Times)

The Globe’s columnist Farah Stockman shares her thoughts on the NSA/PRISM scandal, and the power of pattern in collective human behavior.

It’s important to remember all the good things that can be done with Big Data at a time when so many are focused on the bad. Since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden exposed secret US government programs that collect information about phone calls and websites, metadata has become a dirty word.

Another opinion article about the NSA/PRISM leaks, this time from independent investor André Mouton, who points out the impacts for US companies operating overseas and other larger implications of the scandal.

Interactions Marketing, a consumer engagement marketing firm, has conducted a big data test case using point-of-sale transactional data and regional weather information data from multiple sources to gain fast insights into shopper behaviors. Jeff Bertolucci explains how the company did it.

Mark Anderson explains why China’s new top-ranked supercomputer Tianhe-2 (“Milky Way–2”) isn’t prepared to deal with vast data sets – ate least according to the alternative supercomputer benchmark called Graph 500.

A retrospective of Hadoop’s astonishing success, written by Nick Heat. Includes several quotes from Doug Cutting, the creator of the platform.

Vincent Granville presents three key insights from the latest TDWI research that help organizations understand how they can use data visualization, visual analytics, and visual data discovery to improve decision-making, collaboration, and operational execution.

A list of key points to consider about data storing, analysis and privacy, by Bob Tennant, CEO of Recommind.

The use of business analytics to ‘tell a story’ and how that’s important in the current age of Big Data, by Justin Kern, senior editor at Information Management.

How Hollywood looks at data visualization, and the three people you meet in the data visualization suite, by Saul Sherry.



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

An insightful interview with Cole Nussbaumer, from Storytelling with Data, about her teaching work and the current state of data visualization in the corporate level.

Part of the challenge is that data visualization is a single step in the analytical process. Those hired into analytical roles typically have quantitative backgrounds that suit them for the other steps (finding the data, pulling it together, analyzing it, building models), but not necessarily any formal training in design to help them when it comes to the communication of the analysis.

In this episode, Moritz and Enrico talk with with Prof. Georges Grinstein from UMass Lowell and Celste Paul from NSA, about the VAST Challenge, a visual analytics contest organized every year co-located with the IEEE VIS Conference.

Designer and co-founder of the interaction design lab Accurat, Georgia Lupi shares a bit of her background and references in data visualization.

Kim Rees, the head of Information Visualization at Periscopic, took upon the challenge of answering the 8-Ball artist questionnaire, by the Walker Art Center.

The transcription of a conversation between Jonathan Berger and Sarah Nahm and Ian Johnson from Lever, about the current state of Data Visualization.



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

A great list prepared by the folks at Datalicious, with suggestions of online courses ranging from web analytics over big data to statistics and predictive modelling.

Ben Jones compiled a number of interesting data visualization contests and challenges going on, including a couple from, Tableau’s Civic Data Viz Contest and the 2013 IEEE Scientific Visualization Contest.

Using highly detailed vegetation index data from the VIIRS sensor aboard the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP, scientists at NOAA generated some animations highlighting our ever-changing planet:

A behind the scenes post by infographic designer Luiz Chumpitaz, showing us the creative process of one of most impressive works of 2012, recognized with an award of excellence from the Society of News Design.

Jukka Niiranen, a Microsoft Dynamics CRM specialist, shares an interesting YouTube video tutorial created by Ed Martinez that walks you through the steps needed in order to connect your Excel 2013 to a Dynamics CRM Online OData feed:

A fresh detailed tutorial by Lisa Williams, this time on how to use TileMill – a free-to-download application for Windows and the Mac – to build beautiful, data driven maps.

A personal list with tools to analyse and visualize data, compiled by Robert Dempsey, Director of Engagement at Intridea.

A resource sheet provided by Randy Krum of InfoNewt and, who spoke on the topic of leveraging the power of infographics at the E-Learning Symposium, in Austin.

This set of 30 videos as originally recorded for the NUStats DVD which accompanies the module MAS1403, Quantitative Methods for Business Management, from the Newcastle University Maths.

Nanocubes are a fast data-structure for in-memory data cubes developed at the Information Visualization department at AT&T Labs – Research. It was developed by Lauro Lins, Jim Klosowski and Carlos Scheidegger, and the research paper describing nanocubes is available for download (pdf).

Several links to infographic vector elements kits, with graphics either in EPS or in PSD format.



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

The 8th World Conference of Science Journalists provides excellent opportunities for science journalists and communication professionals to meet and to engage in international dialogue with researchers, decision makers and citizens. It will take place in Helsinki and the details are available here.

WCSJ 2013
WCSJ 2013

AIGA San Francisco continues its series of evening events that focus on interactive design topics, this time with Eric Rodenbeck, CEO of Stamen Design. More here.

A two-hour conference that will take place at the KPMG Auditorium in Sydney. AIMIA and Datalicious will host the event and you can get all the details here.

xCoAx is designed as a multi-disciplinary and nomadic inquiry on arts, computers, computation, communication and the elusive x factor that connects them all. It will be held in Bergamo, Italy, and here’s the event website.

Learn to exploit public data and powerful infographics to tell untold stories in this Master Class, that will take place in Geneva. More here.

Organized by the London Information & Knowledge Exchange, this event is aimed for those interested in down-to-earth solutions to real-life information management issues. Details here.


That’s it for another Data Viz News. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to let us know if we missed some interesting resource. Also, feel free to join us on our Facebook Group or follow us, 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.