by Infogram
Create infographics

Data Viz News [49]

The top data visualization news, articles and resources of the week

April 5, 2014

For us here on Visual Loop, this was a week pretty much consumed with the Malofiej22 awarded projects, both in print and online categories. We managed to dig into our archives to find many of the infographics and data visualizations that received the ultimate international acknowledgement in visual journalism, and made those two massive posts that you can read here and here.

In today’s Data Viz News, we do have a couple of links about Malofiej22Johnatan Corum‘s presentation recap is a must-see -, but we honestly expected to see more. Perhaps it is still a bit too soon for that. It was, compared to previous editions, a “slow” week for the data visualization community, in terms of blog posting, so hopefully more people that attended Malofiej will soon share their views and experiences.

If we had to single-out a top story, it would be the announcement by the New York Public Library that more than 20,000 old maps are now available as high resolution downloads. Actually, it was not hard to choose this one to open our list, since we do post a lot of examples of vintage information design every week.

Other recent contents related to data journalism, visualization, cartography and big data are listed below, and let us know if we missed any particularly interesting article, video or presentation published in the past few days.

Enjoy this week’s recommended links:


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

The Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division announced the release of more than 20,000 cartographic works as high resolution downloads. NYPL is distributing these images under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. The maps can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page, and downloaded, through the Map Warper.

Sanitary and social chart of the Fourth Ward of the City of New York, to accompany a report of the 4th Sanitary Inspection District. 1864
Sanitary and social chart of the Fourth Ward of the City of New York, to accompany a report of the 4th Sanitary Inspection District. 1864


Unique opportunity: this spring, Jonathan Corum will be speaking with Bret Victor, Mike Bostock and Edward Tufte at a one-day course: See, Think, Design, Produce. The event will take place at the San Jose Airport Garden Hotel, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, from 10.00 am to 4.15 pm.

Synthicity has released a free public beta version of GeoCanvas, its 3D spatial data visualization tool. The software provides a streamlined toolset for exploring geographic data, lowering the barrier to learning and using geographic information systems. GeoCanvas combines ease of use with fast handling of large data sets, enabling both novices and experienced data scientists to create compelling 2D and 3D visualizations quickly.

An interesting data project, launched by WNYC this week. Clock your sleep aims to shed light on thge state of the New Yorker’s sleeping habits.If you’re interested in participating, after you create a login on, you just have to check in each morning and evening and answer a couple more questions about your sleep habits.

Zeit Online, the digital sister publication of Germany’s most widely read weekly paper, launched new maps in a completely custom branded design, seamlessly integrating into the website’s look and feel. The new maps use German labels, all sourced through OpenStreetMap. Heres one of the maps made with the new platform:

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic How doctors concentrate in affluent neighborhoods
(image: Zeit Online)



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

One of those top “post+comments combos” that everyone should read. Enrico Bertini speaks from the heart about his fear that the standards for which one should uphold to create visualizations are being lost, or at least diminished in importance. The comments following his post are also worth reading.

In this post, Bryan Connor talks about Visage, the new tool presented by Column Five that we mentioned here before. Visage can create multipage reports with a growing library of standard chart types. It can also support custom chart types on client request as well as custom fields within a chart for things like graphics and styling details.

During the Second EMBO Conference on the Visualization of Biological Data, over 180 biologists, computer scientists, designers and artists gathered at the EMBL Advanced Training Centre in Heidelberg, Germany. A further 40 registrants attended virtually to watch the three keynotes, 18 invited talks, 70 lightning talks from poster presenters, and 15 breakout session reports. This meeting, which took place in the first week of March, 2014, was the 5th VIZBI. Since its beginnings in 2010 as an EMBO Workshop, VIZBIs have taken place annually at EMBL Heidelberg and as an NIH & NLM funded meeting at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT in Boston, USA.

Business crosses cultural divides constantly, and as a result it is important that people understand cultural differences and how to communicate effectively across cultures. Gus Lubin shares a set of practical charts, taken with permission from “When Cultures Collide“, a book by British linguist Richard D. Lewis. Here’s a couple of those charts:

Communication patterns around the world, infographic by Richard D. Lewis
(image: Richard D. Lewis)



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

James Wan, the senior editor for Think Africa Press writes about misleading geographic conceptions, the current domination of Google Maps as a cartography tool, and some age-old conventions, such as the Mercator projection versus the Gall-Peters equal projection, and the “north-is-up” convention, all showing how small cartographic decisions can make huge differences in how we see the world.

For those not familiar with it, the Atlas of Prejudice is a book series with funny maps and essays about bigotry, paranoia, politics and prejudice by Yanko Tsvetkov. In this particular example, taken from Volume 2, Yanko made 20 maps organized as small multiples, to illustrate different aspects of the European society.

20 ways to slice the European continent, infographic project by Yanko Tsvetkov
(image: Yanko Tsvetkov)


As we mentioned before, Zeit Online has now followed the trend set by many other digital publishers in moving away from Google Maps and towards using OpenStreetMap. This is a favorite topic for Google Maps Mania‘s Keir Clarke, who has been pointing out how he thinks that Google has been very slow over the last two years in developing the Google Maps API – including in this interview he gave us, a little over a month ago.

One of the “viral” projects of the week was, without question, Google Naps, a user-generated, Google Maps-based site/parody that lays out the best places to take naps across the world. The site allows people to designate their favorite napping grounds — from park benches to grassy knolls — with the click of a button, and was featured on our weekly Digital Cartography round up.

A set of new map animations from a team of researchers at NYU’s Stern Urbanization Project tracks the history behind decades of geographic expansion in three major world cities. The visualizations show successive booms in the physical footprints of Paris since 1800, São Paulo since 1881, and L.A. since 1877 – you can see this one below:



The most recent articles with tips, insights and best practices around data journalism and information design in newsrooms.

Freelance infographic designer Lulu Pinney attended Malofiej22, last week, and shares in this post her general impressions of the the event.

In all, no earth shattering revelations were delivered at Malofiej. But like the core values of good infographics Malofiej’s core values don’t change either from year to year. And that’s why it’s the right place to go to recharge any flagging infographic batteries.


There’s been a lot of talk around Venezuela’s social and political problems in the last couple of months. In the midst of all the tension and popular uprisings, new data journalism projects are starting to appear, mainly thanks to initiatives like the one described in this post by Phillip Smith.

A good example of the use of public data to highlight an issue of social importance is Oakland Police Beat, a new project created by the non-profit news outlet Oakland Local in California. After investigating police brutality during the Occupy protests, they decided to harvest 22 years of court data to create a database of alleged police misconduct and has made it free under a Creative Commons license.

Another post with a harsh tone towards Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, this one written by Elisabeth Donnelly. She points out that, despite being in its initial state, FiveThirtyEight has failed to be “expansive, or generous of spirit” so far, at least according to the general expectation.

FiveThirtyEight’s approach reduces the world to numbers and data. It makes everything into a Fantasy Baseball League death march of statistics, above human error and above human stories


For Quartz, the Atlantic‘s mobile-first business news site launched in September 2012, the future seems as bright as ever, according to this piece by Ben Cardew. Besides explaining the current situation and short-term future plan, Cardew highlights the way Quartz’ editors search for what they call “the atomic” – that nugget of data that is maybe being ignored by other media -, digging deep into reports for the one surprising fact that will make a dynamic, unusual piece.

This interactive visualization of rain patterns in Hong Kong, designed by Jane Pong for the South China Morning Post, caught Alberto Cairo‘s attention. In this quick post, he also mentions the recent recognition and awards Adolfo Arranz has been getting, for his work also at the Hong Kong-based newspaper.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Here comes the rain again
(image: South China Morning Post)



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

Timo Elliot shares this presentation he gave recently at the SAP Innovation Forum Big Data Track in Stockholm, Sweden.


The author of The Visual Organization, Phil Simon, writes about one of Santiago Ortiz‘ most popular works, Twitter Conversations, in which he mapped and visualized thousands of real conversations and relationships between the company’s employees.

Visualization is being incorporated into more and more BI strategies, but as Brad Peters says in this piece, “without a strategic approach to obtaining answers for the day-to-day challenges facing organizations failure is imminent.” Peters is a big apologist of the Chief Data Officer role as the person with ultimate control over the flow of all data inside the company, and also as a way to make sure the visualization needs are perfectly aligned with the true real context of that particular company.

The video of a presentation by Zhicheng “Leo” Liu, research scientist at the Creative Technologies Lab at Adobe Research.



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

The folks of Russian website Advertology interviewed Alberto Cairo recently, about the role that infographics can play in advertising and Public Relations. The interview is now available online (in Russian, Google Translate link).

KDnuggets talks with Sriram Sankar, Principal Staff Engineer at LinkedIn about LinkedIn’s “Economic Graph”, Entity-Oriented Search, and the biggest challenges towards delivering relevant, personalized search results.


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

The folks at Visualized are still updating the event’s video page with the talks of the 2014 edition, that took place a couple of months ago. The latest ones include Peter Olson, Rachel Binx, Audrée Lapierre & Sébastien Pierre and François-Xavier Fringant & Caroline Goulard.


This is a summary of Jonathan Corum‘s talk lat the 22nd Malofiej conference at the University of Navarra, Pamplona – one of the most praised ones of the event, at least for what we could sense from Twitter.

On what may become a weekly or bi-weekly feature, Alberto Cairo pulls together a list of recommended reads about science and journalism. As he explains, the first section of his next book will deal with data and science, “something written in a conversational style that may be useful not only to journalists or infographics designers, but to anyone interested in rational thinking.” For that, he’s been collecting articles and blog posts to quote from, and decided to share them in what we hope is just the first post of many to come.

Speaking of lists with recommended reads and resources, Andy Kirk just published the latest of his monthly collections, referring to February 2014. As usual, lots of great content.

Posted by Biomedical Sciences Information Specialist at Oregon Health & Science University, Jackie Wirz, this long presentation is part of OHSU’s 2014 Research Week, that will take place next month.


For those still using Tumblr, this might be interesting: a bot that posts GIFs generated from the reblog network of posts that you submit, created by Code and Theory. (Thanks to Andy Kirk for sharing this one on Twitter).

Where Did My Post Go



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

Data Viz 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.