by Infogram
Create infographics

Data Viz News [65]

All the news, articles and resources that caught our attention this week

August 16, 2014

While with not as many announcements as usually happens, this past week was very rich in terms of quality, in-depth articles about data visualization. Ranging from a set of rules for data visualization dated back to 1915, to Andy Kirk‘s significant visualisation developments of the first half of 2014, and Simon Roger‘s explanation of how Twitter and Periscopic developed Twitter Reverb, the set of links we pulled together today is filled with interesting reads – not to mention some inspirational pieces as well, such as National Geographic’s Food by the Numbers video-infographic series.

In addition to the articles about data visualization, cartography and data journalism, we have fresh interviews, recent presentations, new resources and much more, so, without further ado, sit back and enjoy episode 65 of Data Viz News:


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

Last Thursday (14/08), Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism announced the 2014 winners of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes for outstanding reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean; Frank Bajak, “Associated Press”, United States; Tracy Wilkinson, “The Los Angeles Times”, United States; Paco Calderón, “Grupo Reforma”, Mexico; Giannina Segnini, “La Nación”, Costa Rica. The Maria Moors Cabot Special Citation was awarded to Tamoa Calzadilla and Laura Weffer, from “Últimas Noticias”, Venezuela. The Cabot Prizes honor journalists who have covered the Western Hemisphere and furthered inter-American understanding through their reporting and editorial work. Founded in 1938, they are the oldest international journalism awards.

Amplifon, the hearing aid specialists, has created Sounds of Street View, a new platform which allows you to experience 3d sound with Google Street View. Sounds of Street View has three example Street View locations which you can explore with full 3d sound: the Place du Palais in France, Hapuna Beach in Hawaii and Balboa Park in San Diego. You can explore each of these locations in Street View just as you would on Google Maps, using the arrows to navigate around a location. However with Sounds of Street View you also get to listen to the stereophonic sounds of each location.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Sounds of Street View)
(image: Sounds of Street View)


The History of Cartography Project, in the UW–Madison Geography Department, has received a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Beginning September 2014, the funding will facilitate editorial preparation of “Cartography in the Nineteenth Century“, Volume Five of the award-winning reference book series “The History of Cartography“. The six-volume History provides a comprehensive account of the development of mapping as a cultural and scientific endeavor across all periods and human cultures. The University of Chicago Press publishes the series in print, e-book, and free online editions.

Not so much data-visualization related, but this one seems interesting for all journalists out there. The new book by Anya Schiffrin, Global Muckraking: 100 Years of Investigative Journalism from Around the World (New Press, August 2014), is the first anthology of journalism from developing countries that goes back to the 19th century and includes 46 pieces of iconic reporting, each of which is introduced by a journalist, scholar, historian or activist who explains why the piece was important and what kind of impact it had (or didn’t) after it was published.

And while we’re at it, Berlin-based Gestalten, publisher of books on art, architecture, design, and photography for adults, will begin distributing books in the U.S. market this month under the “Little Gestalten” imprint. This follows the publisher’s April debut of Kleine Gestalten, a German-language children’s imprint, whose publishing program will closely align with the English-language books released by Little Gestalten. The inaugural list will be published under both imprints simultaneously, and will be distributed in the US by Prestel Publishing.

Earlier in the week, Chris Roush shared Forbe’s staff hire announcement, released by managing editor Bruce Upbin. Former PBS NewsHour‘s interactive developer Frank Bi is joining the team “as a news developer to produce highly shareable data journalism” content.

Although this is not quite “news”, this SXSW 2015 panel proposal deserves a shout-out – and hopefully, your support. Cole Nussbaumer will be joined by Jon Schwabish, Kaiser Fung and Ben Shneiderman to discuss a much-needed topic: teaching data visualization. You are invited to vote for this session here.

This was one of the highlights of the latest issue of Digital Cartography. Twitter has launched “a beta version of an interactive inspiration tool” for brands and advertisers in the UK that makes use of its collated ‘Everyday Moments’ data to show exactly how often, where and when people interact when talking about certain topics. For the time being, while the tool is accessible globally, the data is currently only from the UK.

Partial screen capture of the interactive map Everyday Moments
(image: #EverydayMoments Beta, by Twitter)



A selection of recent articles published by experts in different fields of data visualization:

Doing some research in the National Archives in Washington this summer, Ben Schmidt came across an early set of rules for graphic presentation by the Bureau of the Census from February 1915. Just a year after the 1910 census’s atlas was published, the Census bureau circulated this memo to their advisors as sort of style guide for the Census in particular – but they are obviously transferable to the general case. Besides the list, Schmidt also shares the comments made at the time, possibly by Joseph Adna Hill, about each one of these guidelines.

New post by Andy Kirk in the Seeing Data Project Blog. He talks about emotional data visualization and the differences between “reading data” and “feeling data”, a key concept to take in consideration when analysing the intent and audience of a data visualization project.

As mentioned in the introduction, Andy Kirk still managed to find time to pull together and share his list of major developments during the first six months of 2014. These are the main projects, events, new sites, trends, personalities and general observations that have struck him as being important to help further the development of the data visualization field.

Sara Sundqvist is a Marketing Manager at Two Toasters, a mobile product development firm that works with companies like Airbnb, ModCloth, Birchbox, Jackthreads, and others. In this article, she shows how some of the major online players have been using interactivity in their mobile apps, and shares some precious tips that, in our opinion, can be easily transposed to visualization.

Be mindful of why you are using an animation or interaction in your app before devoting precious resources to it. Do this by asking yourself if an animation is for usability, personality, or delight. If it doesn’t naturally fit into at least one of those categories, it’s probably not worth the effort.


After attending the Association of Medical Illustrators Conference in Minnesota, the art director of information graphics at Scientific American, Jen Christiansen, reflects on the convergence between classic scientific anatomical illustration and modern data visualization techniques to depict and inform health issues and overall scientific knowledge.

“We wanted to create something to help highlight the way a story explodes on Twitter. Something non-coders could use to interrogate an API and create a visual—Users like me.” That’s how Simon Rogers sums-up the idea behind Twitter Reverb, a visualization tool that Twitter and Periscopic developed recently and that has been regularly featured in our Interactive Inspiration series. In this post, you’ll see what were the challenges the team faced to reach its objective.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Tweets mentioning Neymar
(One of examples of the use of Twitter Reverb | Twitter)


According to this post by the Butler Analytics team, you have basically two types of visualization tools out there: Dumb and Smart. “Dumb” visualization technologies support the representation of any data a person may wish to analyse, while “Smart” data visualization tool will advise the user on the quality of the features a visualization is showing, and not simply display them without any guidance. Guess which type the majority belongs to…

A set of practical tips and advices from Drew Skau, on how to create effective charts for keynotes and presentations. Key points include the proper use of color contrasts, labeling and the scale of the presentation.

Back in April, National Geographic started Food by the Numbers, a monthly series of video animations around our eating habits and food-related issues. They’ve just released this month’s video (about eating insects), and since we haven’t mention this series yet, we thought it would be interesting to share it here.

 Partial screen capture of the Food by the Numbers page
(image: National Geographic)



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

In 1883, U.S. Census Superintendent Henry Gannett published the massive Scribner’s Statistical Atlas, which included maps of each presidential election. The series ended with an unprecedented attempt to map the returns of the 1880 presidential election not just at the state but the county level. Susan Schulten stresses out the importance of one of those maps, that showed for the first time a nation organized not according to railroads and towns, or mountains and rivers, but Democrats and Republicans.

(image: Henry Gannett | US Census Office )


There’s a lot of new features to explore in the CartoDB Editor, and the company continues to unveil more details in the blog. This one covers the variety of features to mobilize your map and add responsive design to it.

In this post, Jenifer Hanson talks about her recent passion for maps, and how that passion has led to a reflection about her own lifestyle and state of mind. She quotes the Where You Are: A Collection of Maps That Will Leave You Feeling Completely Lost publication by Visual Editions that we mentioned in this space back in 2013.

In 1933, Harry Beck introduced abstraction and simplicity to the world of transit cartography with his diagram for London’s underground system. Ignoring everything above the tunnels except for the Thames, Beck’s concept continues to influence subway diagrams to this day. But what about maps for travel 30,000 feet above ground? This is the question Mark Bryant poses, showcasing non-conventional flight maps from the late nineteenth century.

It’s not only flight maps that haven’t changed that much, in the past decades. The maps inside most tourist guides are also very much similar all over the world, but Kenneth Field bring in this post a good example of “out-of-the-box” and at the same time successful example, Nancy Chandler’s maps of Bangkok.

A quick overview, in form of a presentation, of the history of cartography, highlighting the most important events and the intrinsic relationship between math and the field.



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

Data journalism has tremendous potential to drive transparency and reveal corruption in developing countries and many donors are funding data journalism as a means to good governance and transparency. This was the central theme of Eva Constantaras‘ session at the 2014 Open Knowledge Festival, that we talked about here. In this article Eva shares her impressions of this session, and some of the overall conclusions that surfaced among the 50+ participants.

Mark Schlack talks about the recent $50 million funding of BuzzFeed, the implications for journalism as a field and the future of newsrooms.

In my experience, ditching the genius model of publishing for pseudo-scientific interpretations of complex data by people largely disconnected from both the topic and the audience is not much of a step forward


Posted by Jenna Buehler, this article gives an overview of some of the projects the third class of Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Fellows is developing in seven newsrooms: Internews in Kenya, La Nacion, The New York Times, ProPublica, The Texas Tribune and The Washington Post.

Andrew Fogg discusses using for data journalism and walks through 3 journalism use cases.


One of the most well-praised visualizations/data journalism projects of the week, this set of maps from the New York Times Upshot team gives a perspective on migration patterns within the US. Kaiser Fung points out what he appreciated and what changes he would try.

Few weeks ago, Jayadevan Pk, journalist at The Economic Times, gave a talk at The St Joseph’s College in Bangalore on the changing media landscape. Here’s the presentation.



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

As marketers chase information about mothers-to-be, growing embryos are tracked with genetic precision that will change pregnancies forever, as Natalie Holt shows in this article.

Part of the paradox of Big Data is that the more data we have, the more overwhelming it can be. Now, with the rapid rise of sensor-collected data, applied to pretty much everything in our daily lives, the data levels we have seen so far could pale in comparison to what we can expect as soon as we start adding sensors to the world. Story by Ron Miller.

Recorded at the Privacy Laws & Business 27th Annual International Conference, this session featured a panel of speakers that included Tanguy Van Overstraeten, Partner, and Annamaria Mangiaracina, Partner, Linklaters, Belgium; Thomas Zerdick, Head of the Reform Sector, Data Protection Unit, European Commission, Brussels; Christian D’Cunha, Policy and Consultation Unit, European Data Protection Supervisor, Brussels



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

Clement Valla, a Brooklyn-based new media artist and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) professor, explores the underlying processes that produce contemporary maps. Ben Valentine conducted this interview.

On January 24, 2014, the Center for Data Innovation hosted Data Innovation Day 2014, with a variety of talks and panels that invariably focused not only on innovative applications of data (big or not), but with the subtext of open data threaded throughout nearly every talk. To highlight aspects of the use of open data in data visualization, for this video interview Dean Meyers spoke with three participants in the conference, one a panelist and two exhibitors.



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

Visualization is a ubiquitous technology, just like telecommunication. However, unlike a telephone system, humans play an integral part inside the “box” of visualization. This poses a significant challenge in establishing a theory of visualization – the central topic of this session.


One of the most interesting tutorials published recently by Purna Duggirala – better known around the Internet as If you’re an Excel user, this will certainly make your day.

Thanks to the work of Graham MacDonald at the Urban Institute there is a tool that allows for the combination of the Before/After plugin with a slippy map (the kind that lets you zoom and pan). In this post you have a walk-through of the code, to help you develop your own applications of this technique.

Huge list of both useful and eclectic references, articles and guides to data journalism, in no particular order. Worth bookmarking.

During this talk you’ll see a few examples of powerful javascript libraries that can be used to load, manipulate data in the browser and turn it into beautiful visualizations, easily accessible on the web.


It’s almost time for TC14 – Tableau’s annual conference, that will take place in Seattle, at the Washington State Convention Center. The company just made available the raw data sets of TC14’s session information, so you can visualize the sessions exactly the way you want to see them.

One of those galleries to keep an eye on. “See, also” is a collection of visualization projects built on Wikipedia data, curated by Hatnote.

Partial screen capture of the See also data visualization gallery
(image: See, also | Hatnote)


And another new online gallery that came to our attention this week: Circular World is a collection of circular migration plots, organized by Nikola Sander and Ramon Bauer.

How does our brain process stories and does it like data? What about the combination of both? Uldis Leiterts, co-founder of, elaborates on the question of bringing the information — and the stories to the people while capturing their attention on content with the help of infographics.



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.