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Data Viz News [18]

A list of recommended links for a fully-packed data viz weekend

August 3, 2013

Despite all the news, articles and visualizations (both print and online) that caught our attention this week, it’s not hard to consider the selling of the Boston Globe to John W. Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, as the top one. According to the Times’ announcement, the deal was settled in $70 million,  “returning the paper to local ownership after two decades in which it struggled to stem the decline in circulation and revenue”. A huge contrast to what happened in 1993, when The Times paid $1.1 billion –  the highest price paid for an American newspaper.

The week was also particularly interesting for those who are just taking their first steps in information design, with several articles about the development of effective data visualization and infographics by the likes of Alberto Cairo and Tiffany Farrant-Gonzalez, among others – not to mention the online gallery published by The Guardian with examples of what to do, if you want your visual representation to fail miserably.

Hope you enjoy this selection:



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

As we said i the introduction, arguably the top story of the week in journalism – and considering that we’re talking about two of the most creative, groundbreaking and dynamic graphics teams in the world, a top story also in data visualization.

This was one of those announcements everybody loved. Tableau named August the ‘Data Month”, and what a way to start! Users can now use Tableau Public to connect to data sets with up to 1 million rows of data, and the storage space went up from 50 MB to 1 GB. Nice!

Tableau one million rows
(August is the data Month at Tableau Public)

An outstanding initiative from the data team at the L.A. Times, especially if you’re somewhere in Southern California. Mapping L.A. Boundaries API is a site that allows anyone to quickly browse, download and reuse dozens of different maps covering the region. Ben Welsh, a data­base pro­du­cer at The Times since 2007, explains that this project was inspired by similar sites for Chica­go, Ok­lahoma, Canada and New York City.

And another news related to the L. A Times. As reported by Charles Apple, “longtime Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel visual journalist Len DeGroot — who left newspapers in 2010 for the Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism” — has been named director of the Times’ data visualization division.

Chartbuilder was developed by Quartz as an in-house tool that made it relatively simple to turn a data set into a chart that fit the website’s visual aesthetic. The tool is now open source, available here.

The next Knight News Challenge, which opens Aug. 19, will offer a share of more than $2 million for innovative ideas to harness information and data for the health of communities. Fort all the details, visit the website.

After two years since it launched real-time reporting in Google Analytics, Google finally launched the beta of its real-time API for Analytics, which will allow developers to work and create upon the real-time data they get from the service.



A selection of recent articles published by experts in information design, cartography, programming and development, among other topics.

Andy Kirk is one of the regulars in this space, and this week wasn’t different. This time, Andy released his collection of some of the most significant developments in the data visualization field. We’ve actually mention this article previously in the week here.

Mona Chalabi, from The Guardian, presented “an exciting gallery of infographics that tell you nothing”. And kudos for the balance between humor and data visualization criticism in the comments below each of the examples.

16 useless infographics
(16 useless infographics gallery | The Guardian)


In this article Martin Krzywinski and Alberto Cairo provide useful tips on how to communicate effectively in science reporting, especially if you’re aiming for a general audience. Includes practical examples and its perfectly recommended to anyone interested in visual storytelling.

Joseph Rickert takes on a somewhat controversial article written by the ASA President Marie Davidian and featured in July’s issue of the AMSTATNEWS, the monthly magazine of the American Statistical Association.

The fact that President Davidian overlooked the value of R to Big Data and data science is unfortunate but probably reflects the relatively low status accorded to software development in statistics departments

A guest article by Tiffany Farrant-Gonzalez, with precious advises on how to create infographics that actually convey information in a visually effective way.

Jon Schwabish shares his presentation technique of layering as an alternative to the traditional ‘bullet points + text’ combination, so commom in powerpoint slides. As John explains, “Layering lets the presenter show everything they want, but it helps focus the viewer’s attention where they want it.”

Using several analogies to support his argument, Adam Crimble believes that creators of academic visualizations would benefit from being more open to ask for reviews about their work, including during the drafting process – all to avoid (or at least, minimize) the “I don’t understand this graph” comment by those who lack the proper data visualization background and expertise.

An article about the growth of available tools and frameworks to create interactive visualizations, as well as the challenges posed by it, like working with time and revealing stories.



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

An article by one of the members of the Quartz team that created Chartbuilder, the crat cretion tool that is now open source. David Yanofsky tells the story about how Chartbuilder came to be and how Quartz use it.

Friedrich Lindenberg, a Knight-Mozilla Fellow working as a technologist in the newsroom of Spiegel Online, makes the case for hackatons and hackdays, and how a closer contact between coders and newsrooms can led to the development of interesting software solutions, as opposed to the fading away that usually happens after those intense days of creative programming.

Miguel Rios makes a summary of the research paper he and Jimmy Lin published recently, looking at three causes of synchrony around the globe: natural, routine and cultural.

A featured post by Elisabetta Tola, founder of and director of, explaining the process behind Wired’s campaning #scuolesicure, an investigative effort to tackle the lack of safety against earthquakes in Italian schools.

Flink Labs is a Data Visualization studio based in Melbourne, Australia. Ben Hosken, one of the founders, published this presentation with the following question: Can robot journalism help automatically annotate and describe what a viewer is seeing on data visualizations?



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

A quick guide to help understand the main tools and technologies behind big data, for those who are less familiar with it. The post was written by Chuck Rivel, a Principal Architect with RDA Corporation.

The long term impacts of technology advancements such as predictive search, machine learning and the growth of personal assistant apps are some the subjects of this piece by the Times’ reporter Claire Cain Miller.

The folks at Big Data Startups created an ‘ABC of big data’ that is also a valuable resource both for those who are just starting to explore the field as for those working within it. Some of the definitions refer to a corresponding blog post and you’re welcome to contribute to the improvement and expansion of this tool.

RetailNextEuclidBrickstreamNomiWirelessWerxMexia Interactive, and ShopperTrak are just a handful of services that provide brick-and-mortar stores with analytics by tracking customers movements. In this post, Sarah Kessler talks not only about the current gorwth of this type of solutions, but also about the concerns around the potential of this technology.



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

An overview of the present and future of the infographic market by Column Five Media‘s co-founder Ross Crooks, in this interview conducted by Brad McCarty. The TNW Academy is promoting an online course with Ross (Infographics: Build Trust Through Visualization) about the use of infographics for marketing/branding purposes.

Artist, designer, and educator Christian Nold shares his experience with mapping projects such as as Bio MappingGreenwich Emotion Map, and SanFrancisco.

Gastón Roitberg, La Nación’s multimedia editor, will be speaking at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Latinoamérica 2013, and this interview is actually a prelude of what Mr. Roitberg will talking about in his presentation.

In La Nación, we consider data journalism a priority project, not only because it’s a trend for innovation in our profession, but also because we believe that citizens should be able to exercise the right of access to public information.



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


A hand-picked selection of Tableau-related content from across the Internet, curated by Andy Cotgreave. You’ll find useful tips, and the best use cases and hacks of the month.

Healthcare data communication expert Kathy Rowell explains why gauge charts are far from being the ‘go-to’ solution for data representation.

Another ‘best of’ post, this time from, with a set of outstanding visualizations uploaded during July by the Visualizing community.

Visualizing Highlights


A panel of data viz experts (New York Times Graphics Editor Amanda Cox, Facebook Data Scientist Tye Rattenbury, and Data Solutions Architect Chris Whong) discussed several topics related to data journalism and its future, open data, big data, and the intersection between qualitative and quantitative data, at a panel moderated by Huge’s Analytics Lead Dylan Spencer.

One of the most prestigious references in the academic world, the Parsons Journal for Information Mapping (PJIM) is a quarterly journal and online forum to promote research, writing, and digital execution of theories in the field of information mapping and its related disciplines. They just made available the latest issue, with articles by Sergio Peçanha, Michael Lawton, Jerry Beilinson, Kristie Bailey and Paul Blickle.

This is the second part in the series Google Maps API for Designers, a continuation of a previous tutorial, in which Emily Bennett showed how to add markers and customize the colors and menus of a Google map using the service’s API. Now, you’ll see how you can create your own custom map and overlay it.

Jonathan Lansey used Google maps to measure the time it takes to get from Cleveland circle to anywhere in Boston, both by bike and by the T, and has just published a post explaining how he created it.


Bret Victor gave a talk at Dropbox’s DBX conference last July, called The Future of Programming, and has now shared the links and quotes from some primary sources he used, as well as additional resources where you can learn more.


Ray Daly, of The Washington Post, spoke in May at JSConf about “JavaScript journalism”. The video of his talk was just posted to YouTube and the slides are available here.




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

This year’s edition of the Data Management Conference Latin America will take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, featuring several keynote speakers that will address issues related to the use of data for businesses. Details here.


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.