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Data Viz News [26]

In case you missed the latest articles and resources from around the web

September 28, 2013

We cant’ say this was a very exciting week, in terms of news related to the data visualization field – which is not the same as saying that there wasn’t enough interesting content published. After all, the ‘News’ section of this post is usually the shortest one, and this week wasn’t different.

Well, we could include Resonate 2014 as a ‘news’, or Alberto Cairo’s tweet about the new book he’s writing. Or Michael Agar’s new website. And even NewsNerdJobs is new, another place to submit and check out job openings for developers in newsrooms.

And we’ve also talked about the latest infographics, digital maps and interactive visualizations, so, what we have here today is just another list with resources like tutorials, keynotes and presentations, interviews and articles not only about data visualization, but also data journalism, cartography and big data.

Just another list…with +30 links:


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

As expected, the International Herald Tribune will be formally renamed the International New York Times on October 15, ushering in a new era for the 125-year-old newspaper. The date was announced by publisher Stephen Dunbar-Johnson in a letter to readers, stating that the daily “will be marking the occasion with special content in the newspaper and online”.

Timeline.JS will be “moving” from Zach Wise personal website to the Knight Labs domain at While Timeline.JS isn’t under active development, future bug fixes, new languages, will be added to the new site and the new embed system, while the old one will not be updated.

Google Ideas supported the Comparative Constitutions Project to build Constitute, a new site that digitizes and makes searchable the world’s constitutions. It enables people to browse and search constitutions via curated and tagged topics, as well as by country and year.

Constitute, a place to browse the World's constitutions
Constitute, a place to browse the World’s constitutions



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

The 2013 edition of the OkCon, organized by the Open Knowledge Foundation and Lift, was held in Geneva this September. It raised several questions as how to broaden and deepen open data but also connect its ecosystem, offering the view of many experts in various fields as science, culture, governance, technology or business, all concerned by open data. This overview of the event was written by Estelle Hary

Moritz Stefaner created a whole new kind of election map for the German Bundestag elections 2013 for ZEIT Online – one that we’ve featured here. Instead of showing the electoral districts results on a geographic map, or in a table, he decided to use the data to map a new land: Electionland, where all the districts which vote in a similar way are located nearby, allowing to see a Germany grouped by lifestyles, preferences and attitudes. This is the post where Moritz explains the project.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic The card of selection country
(image: Zeit Online)

With election time in Germany, Gregor Aisch created a data visualization using the polling data of the last 14 years from and used Python and Dataset to convert the data into a R-friendly structure, resulting in a nice colored scatterplot showing all the polls, on all the political parties in the country.

“Looking at good examples of data visualization is certainly a great way to learn, but equal value can be found in examining visualizations that didn’t work so well”, said Drew Skau in this post on Blog. He talks about his website WTFViz.

And speaking of data visualizations that could be improved, Kaiser Fung analyses a recent Mother Jones´ graphic that aims to illustrate where the House stood on authorizing force in Syria.

In this article, Cyrille Vincey talks about the evolution of data visualization and points out the differences between them and the so-called infographics. Lots of comments in this one.

As part of the new editorial boost at SND, they’re asking designers to share their sketches of published works. This one for a recent New York Times interactive comes from freelance designer and illustrator Larry Buchanan.

Allison McCartney states that teachers can find infographics useful classroom tools in a number of ways, mainly because a good graphic makes information easily accessible, as it feeds into many students’ natural tendency to learn by seeing and interacting.

Guest post by Vandana Desai, a research scientist at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IRSA). The IRSA is part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at Caltech. They curate the science products of NASA’s infrared and submillimeter missions, including Spitzer, WISE, Planck, 2MASS, and IRAS. In total, IRSA provides access to more than 20 billion astronomical measurements, including all-sky coverage in 20 bands, spanning wavelengths from 1 micron to 10 mm. Visit the IRSA IPAC YouTube channel or the IRSA Tutorials Page for additional IRSA Viewer tutorials.



Ranging from ancient charts to modern digital cartography and GIS technology, here you’ll find the best links of the week:


David Fraser, former Chair of the ICA Commission on Education and a retired professor of RMIT University Melbourne, brings us another edition of the eCARTO News, with the latest cartographic news and developments from around the world.

Ok, we almost didn’t posted this one, but it’s just too funny and odd to skip. The Fairbanks International Airport, in Alaska, has closed an aircraft access route because of a flaw with Apple’s Maps app. They told a local newspaper that in the past three weeks two motorists had driven along the taxiway and across one of its runways.

We mentioned this post from Google Maps Mania a few days back. It contains some of the interactive maps created about the 2013 German Election.

Jenny Beorkrem, a graphic designer, began Ork Posters with just a few sales on Etsy, back in 2007. It now offers 26 maps, with the Bronx just added recently.



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

The interactive data journalist at the Financial Times, John Burn-Murdoch, presented a run down of tools and techniques to turn data sets into maps and visualizations, at the news:rewired conference, in London. Here’s the full presentation:

Art Market for Dummies is a data visualization made by Jean Abbiateci, French freelance journalist and teacher at Lannion School of Journalism, and one of the winners of this year’s Data Journalism Awards – as we reported here. And here’s a look behind the scenes of this project, written by Jean himself.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic The Art Market for Dummies
(image: Jean Abbiateci | Quoi)

In the age of big data, journalists increasingly tell data-rich stories on topics but when data are trapped in a PDF, extracting and analyzing them so they can be presented in a user-friendly way for news consumers can be a headache. To fix this problem, Manuel Aristarán, web developer and Knight-Mozilla Open News Fellow in Argentina, began to develop a web app late last year that extracts data from tables in PDF files: Tabula

Our friend Gustavo Faleiros talks about The Geojournalism Handbook, a free, online guide to mapping and visualization technologies. It explains environmental data such as satellite imagery and even shows you how to build your own balloon to take aerial pictures.

Mark Horvit, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), recently shared his thoughts on how data has changed investigative reporting and how IRE fits into the future of journalism. Here’s the short video:



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

Two out of five software engineers working on big data solutions say that government agencies are tracking the data they’re collecting, creating, and analyzing. And if you only ask those who are confident they could tell if the government was indeed spying on their data, that number goes up to 59 percent. Numbers put together by John Koetsier.

This past July, Econsultancy issued a report which made reference to the fact that Big Data is causing big frustrations for those who make their living in the marketing world. In this post, Steve Olenski shows how companies such as Pursway, Comcast and Sony are working with those who make their living in the marketing world to tap into the connection of real-life relationships that go well beyond the boundaries of Facebook friends and Twitter followers to drive 2-5x higher ROI for marketing campaigns.

Posting in his ‘Numbersense’ blog, Keiser Fung talks about companies that sell your data for marketing purposes. What data? Read it and you’ll find out.

A draft “Code of Conduct” that seeks to provide guidance on best practices for resilience building projects that leverage Big Data and Advanced Computing. Authored by Kate Crawford, Patrick Meier, Claudia Perlich, Amy Luers, Gustavo Faleiros and Jer Thorp.

Oracle is doubling down on “big data” with a number of new products and enhancements to existing ones, in hopes that customers looking to analyze massive amounts of information for business insights will in turn invest further in the company.

James Cattermole, founder and CEO of Hexigo, outlines the importance of the human element in data science for business: deciding what to analyze, what data to use and how to translate results into a business practice.



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

The founder and CEO talks to NBC News’ Kate Snow about the latest Amazon Kindle, the future of newspapers and how he decides to split his time between his many projects.

Another one of the awesome Setup-interviews, and this time with Santiago Ortiz, who tells what are his personal choices when it comes to hardware and software.

In this interview, Nate Silver talks about his book, The Signal and the Noise, that explains the power of statistical modeling to improve our predictions about everything from the weather to sports to the stock market. Far from counseling that everyone must major in statistics, in this edited conversation he advises students and executives alike to roll up their sleeves — no matter their statistical literacy — and get their hands dirty with data.

Wilson Andrews of The Washington Post shares the ‘secrets’ behind the creation of ‘The Black Budget‘ (featured here) which visualizes never before seen data about secret funds for national intelligence agencies.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Funding the intelligence program
(image: The Washington Post)



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

The 45th issue of the‘s Weekly Newsletter is filled with interesting links to articles, videos ad resources related to data visualization.

Data science involves Obtaining, Scrubbing, Exploring, Modeling, and Interpreting data. Jeroen Janssens shares seven command-line tools that he uses in his day-to-day work to help out in these tasks, and ads an uncurated list of tools and repositories that others have suggested to him. Altogether, a great resource.

Jon Peltier dives into heatmaps with Excel, after a reader asked him how to arrange a particular dataset to display a variable on a grid.

Although not dated, this compilation of interactive visualizations and resources with d3.js by University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Professor Karl W Broman is worth checking out.

A nice practical explainer of the differences between a normal and a fat-tailed distribution. Made in d3.js by Lewis Lehe and Victor Powell.

Kin Lane is currently assisting with the inventorying of open data assets at the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as across numerous other federal agencies. In this article, you’ll see how Kin deals with some of the biggest bottlenecks, when it comes it comes to building applications within the federal government: File Conversion and File Storage.

Another one of our longtime Brazilian friends, Gabriel Gianordoli wrote this tutorial on using Processing for data visualization. Gabriel is currently enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts – Design & Technology program, at Parsons The New School for Design, New York.

Cool tutorial by the great Scott Murray, author of Interactive Data Visualization for the Web, demonstrating how to visualize data using D3.js.

This dictionary (created by Philip Hoehn and Mary Lynette Larsgaard) decodes abbreviations and acronyms found in various publications, including maps and websites. Although not so data visualization-related, it might be useful for a number of circumstances.

The folks at Ordnance Survey have created a Minecraft world made with digital map products – freely available as OS OpenData. Here you’ll see how it was done.

Another post by Jon Peltier, in which he’s asked to produce a bar chart of percentages with a line chart showing a goal on the secondary axis. After answering it, John decided it made a good standalone tutorial – and so did we.



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

(Partial view of the data Viz events calendar)
(Partial view of the data Viz events calendar)


That’s it for another Data Viz News. 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.