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Data Viz News [17]

The top news, articles and resources from throughout the Internet

July 27, 2013

We had it all, during this week in the data visualization world: huge career moves, fascinating discussions, product launches and important milestones, all gathered here in another fully-packed Data Viz News.

Nate Silver leaving the Times was probably the  most surprising  news, but Slideshare’s oprimized features for infographics and’s new integration with Excel were equally very much mentioned around the Internet.

As far as resources, we can’t help mention Andy Kirk’s Best of the visualisation web… June 2013 and the huge collection of sites and services for accessing data he prepared, amazing work. Also, Alberto Cairo’s Adobe Illustrator video lessons are now available, and are highly recommended for those who want to develop their data visualization skills with this software.

Here’s the full list with this week’s recommended links:



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

In what has become a surprise move for many, Nate Silver, the statistician who attained international fame for his projections about the two last U.S. presidential elections, is leaving The New York Times and moving his FiveThirtyEight franchise to ESPN.

Slideshare, the social hosting and sharing platform bought by LinkedIn in 2012, announced the launch of a new player specifically for infographics. Though infographics were far from being new on Slideshare,  the new player optimizes the viewing experience and uploaders can see how many views, downloads and embeds their infographics have garnered.

To celebrate the 1 million graphics created milestone, our friends at released a Microsoft desktop app that pairs its service with Excel. According to The Next Web, other spreadsheet software integrations are planned, but the company hasn’t released any timetables for its execution. If you’re not familiar with, here’s an interview with one of the co-founders, Uldis Leiterts, that we published last year.

After three years hosting his blog at the American Copy Editors Society website, visual journalist Charles Apple will continue his posts at a new ‘digital home': Charles as become a reference in the field of infographics and visual reporting, and is currently the Focus page editor of the Orange County Register.

This week, users of noticed some changes to the service’s front page, more precisely in the maps controls. As well as re-arranging things, users can now use browser geo-location to locate the map where they are (geolocate-icon), and the map layers picker (layers-icon) now gives a preview of the different map styles on offer.

The San Mateo, California-based startup DataStax known for offering a commercial version of the Apache Cassandra NoSQL database, has raised a $45 million series D round led by new investor Scale Ventures. GigaOm reports that for its commercial version of the database, called DataStax enterprise, DataStax has more than 300 customers, including 20 companies in the Fortune 100.

In its latest effort to push the boundaries of massive online training in journalism, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas has brought together five experts, including practitioners from The New York Times, ProPublica, NPR and the Houston Chronicle, to teach the Massive Open Online Course (or MOOC) in English, “Data-Driven Journalism: The Basics.”. This new, free MOOC will start on August 12 and end September 16, 2013, and you can still register here.

As the preparation to the 2013 Tableau Customer Conference continues, the company launched another data visualization competition, to see who will be the third and final champion to join Ryan Sleeper and James Wahl in the Tableau Public Iron Viz competition. The topic in hand is Social Media data (see the example below, using Instagram data), and submissions must be sent until Monday, August 5th, 2013. All the details here.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Instagram Viz
(image: Tableau)


An impressive demonstration of imMens, a system designed to support interactive visual exploration of large data sets with billions or more elements. The team behind it published a full paper at EuroVis 2013, available here, and shared the video below:



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

Using as a reference a recent post by Pete Warden (Why you should never trust a data scientist), John Burn-Murdoch shares his view on the topic, emphasizing that “Data presented in any medium is a powerful tool and must be used responsibly, but it is when information is expressed visually that the risks are highest.” This post has caused several reactions, like this one.

Robert Kosara shares his thoughts on the GED Viz, an interactive tools funded and run by the Bertelsmann Foundation (featured on one of our recent Interactive Inspiration posts).

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Global Economics Dynamics Visualizer
(image: GED)


Eric Fischer is well-known in the mapping community for the work he has been doing for the past years with geotagged data from services like Flickr and Twitter. In this post, Eric shares some of the lessons he learned during one of his most recent projects, the set of maps using 3 billion geotagged tweets that we featured here.

Partial screen capture of the interactive Map Mobile Devices
(image: Mobile Devices – Tokyo | MapBox)


Chris Pudney is a visualization specialist with more than a decade’s experience working in both industry and academia. In this post, he talks about the latest Data Stories podcast (we’ve mention it last week), in which Moritz Stefaner and Enrico Bertini interviewed Dominikus Baur, a mobile data visualization expert.

Way before he became’s Creative Director, Jess Bachman gained some popularity thanks to his annual ‘Death and Taxes’ visual depiction. In 2012, due to lack of time, the poster was not released, but the 2014 version is up and Jess explains a bit of the history behind the project and the new developments that will assure the future editions of the ‘Death and Taxes’ poster, thanks to a partnership with the folks at TimePlots.

Death and Taxes 2014, infographic by Jess Bachman
(image: Jess Bachman )


In this article, Joe Ringenberg takes three common problems that can compromise the creative process, and how diagrams can help solving them.

Treat your diagrams as a design tool. They can help you break a bad case of writers’ block, clear up your thinking, and communicate your great idea.


With the intent of bringing data science and social issues together, thirty-six young data scientists have descended upon Chicago to partake in a first-of-its kind program headed by The Data Science for Social Good Fellowship (DSSG), a University of Chicago program sponsored by Google chairman and wife Eric and Wendy Schmidt. Sean Thorton walks us trough the project in this article.

This is actually an update to a post originally published on Dec. 4, 2012 by Theodoric Meyer and Peter Maass, now including the New Jersey Supreme Court’s recent ruling on location data.

A long review by Markus Mechnich about the ✳UrbanSensing Project: The Urban Pulse, a two-year initiative developed by a consortium of three SMBs and three research performers, all from Europe.

A new tread on CartoWalk, initiated by Hans van der Maarel, in hope to start a discussion about the misuse of cartograms as a data visualization representation tool. It has already several contributions from users.

A collection of ‘bad infographics’, prepared by Timo Elliot. Most of these ‘Infauxgraphics’ fail in their mission by concentrating on graphic design rather than information design, becoming ugly, silly, misguided, and even misleading.

In this 4th blog post in a series celebrating “The Week of the Author”, the spotlight goes to the top developers, also known as Tableau Zen Masters. The Tableau Zen Masters are a very select group of Tableau users who have demonstrated a mastery of the product at the highest level, and in this post you’ll meet some of them – although most are already very familiar, if you’re into data visualization.



The most recent articles with tips, insights and best practices around data journalism.

Data visualization and tech consultant Nick Diakopoulos breaks down the several aspects that should be considered, as a journalist, when assessing a piece of ‘data PR’, as well as how can you improve your own data journalism by ensuring the argument you develop is a sound one?

BBC News specialist in FOI and executive producer in BBC Political Programmes, Martin Rosenbaum, alerts newsrooms to the challenges of dealing with rapidly growing flow of data issued by public authorities, by showing a practical example that illustrates some of those problems journalists are already having.

The story of the next 90 years as predicted by the United Nations Population Division demographic data and explained in nine interactive charts, by the Post’s foreign affairs blogger Max Fisher. The charts were created with Datawrapper, a tool that is gaining some interesting momentum in the news industry.

An inside look at one of the most recent interactive data visualizations created by the Al Jazeera graphics team, Mapping Syria’s Rebellion (we mentioned it here). Sarah Marshall talked with Mohammed Haddad, interactive producer at Al Jazeera English, about this and other visualizations created by the news company.

Mike Allen‘s deep behind-the-scenes look at how ESPN and ABC News fought to lure data-whiz Nate Silver away from The New York Times is arguably one the best articles available about this topic.

“Are the students we are training in our classrooms ready to take on the workplace they enter in tomorrow?”  This is the core question in Amy Schmitz Weiss‘ recent post about the role of educators in preparing students to be able to manage these two worlds of data science and digital media together effectively and accurately.

A new post by Simon Rogers on how media organizations and public institutions use Twitter to inform their audience in a variety of situations. This time, Simon looks at how the National Transportation Safety Board (@NTSB) responded when Asiana Flight 214 crashed on the runway at San Francisco International Airport, earlier this month.

Again, a blog post from “The Week of the Author” series, promoted by Tableau. In this 3rd post, you’ll meet some of the talented journalists from different parts of the world that are using Tableau in their work.



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

According to a new report by McKinsey & Co., a leading management consulting company, improved education and infrastructure will have a much bigger impact than Big Data for the economy. A summary of the report “Game changers: Five opportunities for US growth and renewal” is available online.

Rudy Karsan is the founder of Kenexa, an IBM company and provider of recruiting and talent management solutions. Here, he explains the wide range of possibilities for organizations “to study potential candidates and pinpoint with amazing accuracy those who have the capability to do the job, the capacity to learn new skills that may be needed in the future, and who are a good match with the culture of the company”.

While different companies will always have different talent needs, Matt Ariker, Tim McGuire, and Jesko Perry defined five important roles to staff on an advanced analytics bureau.

Greg Satell writes regularly about the intersection of media, marketing and technology, and in this article he makes an analogy with the career of all-time best basketball player, Michael Jordan, and how ‘predicting the future’ using data can be the difference between success and failure.


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

Bronson Taylor from invited co-founder and VP of Product at Visually, Adam Breckler, to discuss how the company uses their marketplace to promote the growth of the Visually platform and outline some general techniques for using infographics to promote growth in any business.

Conducted by Kyle Ellis, this interview with Mark Johnson – the 35-year old CEO of Zite, a personalized magazine app acquired by CNN – has some interesting points about the relationship between journalists and technologists.

I believe that journalists should partner with technologists to reimagine how they can tell a story. Some of this is already happening in the form of data journalism, but I’m imagining something much bigger. It’s amazing to me that with the web, mobile devices, and especially the iPad, journalists tend to write stories in a format very similar to newspapers and magazines of a century ago. Surely we can be more creative!

A quick interview with designer Stephen Wildish, as a part of the Visually Marketplace Designer Spotlight series, in which a new infographic designer is featured on a weekly basis.



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

We’ve mention this post by Andy Kirk in the beginning of this Data Viz News, and there’s really not much to say about it that hasn’t been said already by the data viz community. Just bookmark it and feel free to contribute with additional data sources.

Andy’s monthly compilation of links, always filled with inspiring articles, visualizations and dozens of resources. It includes a couple of mentions to Visual Loop, so we’d like to thank him again for that.

For the past six months, Alberto Cairo has been working on video lessons that teach how to use Illustrator to infographics, and it was just made available through a monthly subscription to Creative Edge (around $20,00).

One of the goals that led to the launch of MapLab blog (covered here a few weeks back) was the challenge of produdcing maps from scratch. This post by Greg Miller is the first step in that journey, which is being tagged ‘Adventures in Mapmaking’.

A summarized version of one of the most exciting session proposals for SXSW Interactive 2014, related with data visualization. Public voting runs from August 19-September 6, 2013.


FastCoLabs called in Andy Kirk, Robert Kosara of Eager Eyes, and Matt Stiles, the data editor of NPR, to produce a list of the most iconic data graphics of all time. Andy also wrote a blog post explaining his picks.

With all of the different kinds of tools for creating interactive maps at your fingertips, the folks at Bashooka pulled together a list of resources to help you navigate your way.

In one of the most well-received Eyeo talks of the year, Giorgia Lupi shares her personal story and describes a self-taught method which enables her imagination to wander through the world and find visual inspiration in everyday life and experience.


A useful tutorial by Jon Peltier, a well-known Excel developer, that answers a question posted in the Super User forum, whose author wanted to Get Excel to base tick marks on 0 instead of axis ends (with fixed maximum or minimum).

Tom Marshall and Michael Gonchar present this set of 10 activities for teaching about geography using The New York Times content, all related to the National Geography Standards, which were produced by the Geography Education National Implementation Project.

In this OpenNews Learning special, Jonathan Stray presents an equation-free statistics talk on data and the shape of randomness. This lecture was given as part of the 15th Annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists at the Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting, Rhode Island.



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

Visual loop's calendar with data visualization related events
Our updated calendar with data visualization related events


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.