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Data Viz News [13]

Every week, a fresh list of links to news, articles and resources about data visualization

June 29, 2013

Besides the fresh interactive visualizations and amazing infographics published during the past week, we’ve also seen several product launches and announcements quite relevant to the data visualization community – like’s new New Marketplace Project Center, for example. Our list also includes several articles, videos and resources that we collected, and a couple of data visualization competitions that came to an end, from Tableau and GitHub.

In addition to this week’s list of recommended reads, we’d like to also suggest the interview with Jorge Camões, from ExcelCharts and this guest post by Roxana Torre.

The first one doesn’t really need an introduction, if you’re in the field of data visualization. In this interview, Jorge shared some interesting insights about the use of Excel for data visualization and even some of his future projects – including a book.

Roxana Torre’s Macrometeorites visualization won the Meteorites Challenge, and she was kind enough to gives us an inside look on how she produced this work. This wasn’t the first guest post by Roxana here on Visual Loop. Earlier in 2012 she presented another one of her data visualization projects, How livable are cities.

Here’s our  list of other interesting links:



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

The new Visually Project Center is an online platform that allows teams of creators to collaborate on the production of data visualizations and features an activity feed, threaded discussions, in-line previews, and a timeline of project milestones.

Fractal Analytics is a company that provides advanced Big Data analytics, with almost all of its revenue coming from Fortune 500 companies. It has now received a $25 million investment from TA Associates, which is taking a minority stake in the San Mateo-based company.

As reported by Sean Ludwig, from Venture Beat, Business Intelligence app-maker MeLLmo has launched a new cloud-based version of its popular Roambi service that is calls Roambi Business.

Voices is a new tool from IntelliResponse (which sells virtual agent technology), that translates common customer queries into theme-based bubbles with labels like “credit limit” or “online banking.” Prior to Voices, IntelliResponse would analyze data coming from virtual agents and generate reports for bank clients. Here’s a short video on the making o Voices:


The Eric & Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good summer fellowship is a new University of Chicago program where 36 aspiring data scientists will work on machine learning and data science projects with social impact.

Posted by Jen Kovnats, this announcemente introduces a new way for developers to visualize and interact with data hosted in Maps Engine: DynamicMapsEngineLayer. This class performs client-side rendering of vector data, allowing the developer to dynamically restyle the vector layer in response to user interactions like hover and click.

The first international GEN News Hackathon, hosted at the third annual GEN News Summit in Paris, gathered 11 media teams from around the world. The competition was won by the team De Volkskrant, from the Netherlands.

The three winning entries of the second annual GitHub data challenge were presented in the company’s blog. The winners received gift certificates to the GitHub Shop for $200, $100, and $50, respectively.

Another data visualization contest that came to an end, this time from Tableau. The Civic Data Viz Contest winner was James Wahl for his dashboard Volunteerism in America. He will receive a trip to TCC2013 and a spot in Tableau’s Iron Viz competition.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Volunteerism in America
(image: James Wahl)



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

The best data visualization/information design related links published during the month of May, as picked by Andy Kirk in his monthly recap.

In this article, Sarah Sherman talks about two of the most popular mapping services out there, Mapbox and OpenStreetMap, and how the Open-source mapping movement is evolving.

In this article, Simon Rogers presents another data visualization project that uses the geotagged information gathered by Twitter: an incredible interactive visualization of billions of Tweets, developed by Nicolas Belmonte.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic The topography of Tweets
(image: Nicolas Belmonte | Twitter)


Ole Munk, a graphic designer, design & communication consultant and lecturer, based in Espergaerde, Denmark, talks about Alberto Cairo’s book, ‘The Functional Art’, and why it should be read by everyone who seeks a deeper understanding of what they are actually dealing with when producing visual communication.

Name analysis takes a list of names, and outputs guesses for the gender, age, and ethnicity of each person, and in this post Pete Warden explains why this could be useful to a number of scenarios. It also includes a list of tools.

A visual breakdown of the 2013 Data Journalism Awards (that we mentioned here) created with Tableau and published in the company’s blog by Ben Jones.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic 2013 Data Journalism Awards
(image: Tableau Public)


Andy Kirk shares his thoughts on the different, many times unique, interpretations we all create in our minds when looking to a particular data visualization project, and how that should be taken in consideration when you create your visualization. He uses examples like Moritz Stefaner’s Notibilia, among others, to illustrate his point.

A post by Dan Sinker around the importance and value of having code-skilled people inside newsrooms. He uses as an example the work done by the Texas Tribune team covering one of the most highlighted news of the week, when State Senator Wendy Davis successfully stopped an anti-abortion law from passing by filibustering in the statehouse for 11 hours.

Recently, the New York City Department of Transportation introduced WalkNYC, a new program of pedestrian maps that makes it easier to navigate the city streets. Pentagram helped create the graphic language of the maps and this post takes you into the backstage of that work.

A new guest post on Randy Krum‘s blog, this time by Pete Sena, the founder of Digital Surgeons, a digital-first creative agency that specializes in combining design and technology to connect brands and consumers.

An inside look at a personal data visualization project by Jed Carter, a London-based graphic design student. By linking 64 public-access web cameras across Europe, Jed recorded images of the colour of the sky. This post explaining his creative process comes with a video showing the final results:


Mark Davis, an Emmy-​​winning pro­ducer and director of sci­ence and tech­nology doc­u­men­taries for PBS, National Geo­graphic, and the Dis­covery Channel, spoke at a day­long sym­po­sium at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity titled “Infor­ma­tion Design and Data Visu­al­iza­tion: Boston 2013.” This article sums up the key points of that presentation, reminding that North­eastern will launch a Master of Fine Arts in Infor­ma­tion Design and Visu­al­iza­tion, a two-​​year inter­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­gram focused on the ana­lyt­ical com­mu­ni­ca­tion of infor­ma­tion, this fall.

A post by Drew Skau with tips on how to get a color scale that both looks good and displays data effectively. The follow-up comments are also worth reading.

Sarah Werning introduces the topic of ‘paleodata’ and the many options available out there for a paleontologist who wants to share data, something she will be exploring in future posts (the second one is already available here).

Because paleontology is so interdisciplinary and draws on so many types of information, our data can be found in a number of repositories (in addition to supplemental information hosted on journals’ sites). There so many options for a paleontologist who wants to share data that it might be hard to keep them straight


In his blog, Jorge Arango takes on the Information Architecture for the World Wide Web book published by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville fifteen years ago, to express his concerns about the rising questioning of the relevance of information architecture in a multi-channel world.

A list of ‘reasons’ why infographics used by marketing and SEO agencies must disappear. The article was written by Walter Wickey, who contributes on this topic regularly for Business Insider – this post with The 27 Worst Charts Of All Time is an interesting read as well.

Infographics have a long, noble history that began the moment William Playfair invented the chart and ended roughly five minutes after marketers learned how little you could get away with paying a visual designer to make an infographic for a brand.

A detailed explanation about an interactive visualizations created to cover the massive wave of protests in Brazil. This visualization was created by Gustavo Miller and the Infographics Design Team at G1, one of the top news portals in the country. This visualization was featured also in our weekly Digital Cartography round-up.



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

An effort by Yali Sassoon to distinguish different sources of complexity, in the business analytics context. This post is a response to a blog post by Tim Wilson called Web Analytics Platforms are Fundamentally Broken, authored back in August 2011.

This article by Justin Kern looks at the report entitled “At the Big Data Crossroads: Turning Towards a Smarter Travel Experience.” To create this report, Thomas Davenport, research director for the International Institute for Analytics and visiting professor at Harvard Business School, had extensive conversations with nearly two dozen airlines and online travel sites.

At the recent Whitehall Media Big Data Analytics conference in London, Bob Harris, CTO at UK broadcaster Channel 4, set out his take on a list of preconceptions that bedevil Big Data. This post, breaking down Harris’ insights, was written by Toby Wolpe.


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

Enrico Bertini gets to ask a few questions to the industry and government track chairs Danyel Fisher, David Gotz, and Bill Wright. They explain how the system works and why everyone that’s somehow involved with data visualization in their day-to-day jobs should participate.

An Interview with Prof. Matthew Waite, who established in 2011 the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication.



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

A list compiled by Hrishi Mittal with dozens of links to books, tutorials, screencast videos and courses for learning D3.js, the wildly popular JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data.

In the video game WATCH_DOGS, the city of Chicago is run by a Central Operating System that uses data to manage the city. Because this isn’t that far from happening in real life, specially in big cities, WATCH_DOGS WeareData was developed to be the first website to gather publicly available data about Paris, London and Berlin in one location. Watch the following video:


An online gallery with the works created at the Multiple Stories with a Singular Dataset workshop, given by Giorgia Lupi at EYEO 2013.

A quick helper to convert the data from JSON to CSV, developed by Zack Hunter – who’s blog is always worth checking, if you code.

In this article, Gavin McLeod presents 15 Chart Libraries which will suit a variety of tasks from simple charts to high complex visualizations.

A demonstration video on the use of Altmetric Explorer to track the conversations around articles online. The Explorer app pulls data from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, newspapers & magazines and more, and lets you discover interesting new papers while conveying a broad sense of research impact through multiple metrics. It’s free for librarians.

This Scipy 2013 talk by Gael Varoquaux focuses on simple Python patterns to process efficiently large datasets using Python.



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

The 25th International Conference on the History of Cartography begins tomorrow (30/06) in Helsinki, Finland. All the details are available here.

ICHC 2013
ICHC 2013


And we’ve reached the end of another Data Viz News. As always, 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.