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Data Viz News [76]

The top news, articles and resources about data visualization, infographics and data journalism

November 15, 2014

Two big events took place this week, and we’re not talking about the celebrations involving the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall or the landing of the Philae probe Comet 67P. No, the events that we are refering to are very much visualization-related and today’s Data Viz News includes several links about them. IEEE Viz 2014, arguably the last of the great conferences of this year, and the 2014 Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards ceremony, that happened last Tuesday (11/11) in London.

But of course, our list of recommended reads for the weekend is way much richer than all the links we have about those two events. Announcements from the main companies, acquisitions and new hires, plus lots of articles about data journalism, infographics, cartography and business analytics. All perfect to pair with our best print and interactive visualizations and maps of the week.

Hope you enjoy the read:


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

As mentioned in the introduction, we finally met the winners of the 2014 Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards. A special mention to our friend Moritz Stefaner, who was part of two awarded projects, and RAW, Density Design‘s free data visualization tool, that was took home the awards for the Best Tool and the Most Beautiful categories. Yesterday, we also presented some of the interactive visualizations that won this years edition.

The Guardian just announced Xaquín González Veira will guide the new Guardian Visuals team as editor. Guardian Visuals is the publication’s next effort blending the “raw materials of visual journalism” by combining its graphics, picture and interactive teams as well as drawing some members from its digital design and multimedia departments. Currently a senior editor for National Geographic’s interactive team, González Veira has been responsible for producing and coordinating their data visualizations and multimedia narratives.

The School of Communication at the University of Miami is launching a new Data Journalism and Visualization track within our MFA in Interactive Media. It will begin in 2015, after it receives all required approvals. Alberto Cairo shares the details in this article.

CORRECT!V and the Rudolf Augstein Foundation have agreed on a strategic cooperation to further education in data journalism. Starting in January, we will initiate a year-long fellowship program for data journalists. As part of the “Rudolf-Augstein-Fellowship for Data Journalism at CORRECT!V”, at least ten journalists will receive the opportunity to realize a data-driven research project. The fellows will work at the CORRECT!V offices and have access to the entire resources of our newsroom.

HERE has agreed on a cooperative relationship with the University of Applied Sciences at Potsdam (FHP) to fuel innovative new work in data visualization. Funding from HERE will aid the creation of a proposed research lab, which will be an open, creative and innovative space devoted to visualizing cities. HERE and FHP have already agreed to jointly participate in the EIP-SCC (the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities), which “brings together cities, industry and citizens to improve urban life through more sustainable integrated solutions.”

Over recent years, mapping services have been busy counting and charging for map views. CartoDB wants to go against that trend, and just announced free and unlimited map views for all user accounts.

In October 2013, Tableau ran the first Tableau Design Month featuring great posts about best design practices and how-to’s. Now, they’re taking of where they stopped, with more guest contributions and lots of tips from some of the top practitioners out there.

Rocketgraph is a marketplace launched in September where developers and designers can create and offer cloud powered reports.The company just announced that Google Analytics is now part of the Rocketgraph connectors.

Business app marketplace AppDirect announced this week that it has acquired Leftronic, a data visualization startup that launched four years ago. Leftronic allows businesses to build custom dashboards visualizing important data. AppDirect co-CEO Daniel Saks told me that by integrating Leftronic’s visualizations, AppDirect can give its customers a dashboard for monitoring the status of their apps.

In early September, Severino Ribecca and Jon Schwabish released a poster-sized version of The Graphic Continuum, a collection of the wide array of visualization types. In it, they plotted over 80 different graphics across six main categories: Distribution, Time, Comparing Categories, Geospatial, Part-to-Whole, and Relationships. Now, you have it also available in desktop version. And by the way, congratulations to Jon and Severino for winning the bronze at the Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards, Infographic category.

The desktop version of The Graphic Continuum, by Severino Ribecca and Jon Schwabish



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

Robert Kosara made an excellent daily coverage of VIS 2014, sharing his views on the many sessions that took place in Paris between the 9th and the 14th. This article tells what happened Friday, the conferences last day, but you should most definitely check all thew posts of this series.

Information designer Valentina D’Efilippo developed Poppy Field, a visualization that reflects on human life lost in war. To observe Remembrance Day and commemorate The Great War’s centenary, the project visualizes the timing, involvement and death totals for individual wars since 1900. We featured this project yesterday, on our Interactive Inspiration round up.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic The Great War Centenary
(image: The Great War Centenary)


An issue that should concern all of those working with information design and especialy those that develop projects for the Internet. We first heard the expression #Diugital Dar Ages” from our friend Manuel Lima, referring to the increasing difficulty in finding contemporary visualizations for his first book, Visual Complexity. In this article, Andy Kirk talks about this issue, using a series of tweets from The Upshot’s Derek Willis as the starting point.

Post by Kevin A. Taylor, telling us how he felt about a Prudential Retirement commercial in which people are asked to place a sticker on a chart to mark the age of the oldest person they’ve ever known. By the end of the commercial you are made to believe that people are living longer so you should invest more in your retirement.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa is one of the most well-known Japanese prints of all time. It’s also a great metaphor for better understanding the diverse nature of data visualization, as Manuel Lima explains in this article.

In a time where visualization tools are becoming increasingly popular and democratized, we should always be aware of the danger of tunnel vision and the overreliance on a single snapshot, as the only viewpoint on a given subject.


For John Weathington, “most people don’t care about data as much as you do, so don’t confuse them with an interface that looks like a logic puzzle. Your graphics should represent information, knowledge, or wisdom if possible but not purely data. Make conclusions explicit and suggest actions for your users to take based on the analysis.” He’s speaking in the corporate context, but we can easily extrapolate these recommendations for other areas.

Natural Recall is a non-profit international communications project organized by and GTower. Several artists were invited tocontribute, an this one is Jan Willem Tulp‘s entry. ‘Edible or Medical’ is a visualization of the Plants For A Future dataset that contains data on more than 7000 edible, medical and otherwise useful plants for humans. The visualization gives an impression of the edible and medical uses of plants that have a edible or medical rating of at least 4 out of 5.

(image: Jan Willem Tulp)


In this Data Visualization 101 series, the folks at Column Five cover each chart type to help you sharpen your data visualization skills.This particular post is about the infamous pie chart, and was written by Benjamin Starr. Another post about the same issue was published by Bernard Marr on LinkedIn.

These are the slides from Twitter’s Data Visualization Scientist, Krist Wongsuphasawat, talk at the IEEE VIS 2014 Conference on Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST) 2014 in Paris, France.



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

The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong looks like a beehive, with cramped quarters stacked haphazardly on top of one another. It grew up organically, clearly constructed without the input of a single architect. Before its demolition in 1993, the city buzzed with life. It harbored drug kingpins, prostitutes, and gangsters, along with fish ball makers, mailmen, and hawkers. These hyper-detailed maps illustrate the true density of life in the city. They come from a Kowloon large illustrated , a rare book released in 1997, shortly after the colonial government decided to demolish the city and relocate the residents to public housing complexes, and were produced by Japanese researchers led by anthropologist Kani Hioraki, writes artist Johnny Strategy on his design blog.

(Map of Kowloon Walled City | Kowloon large illustrated)


All maps are to some extent political, and rarely more so than in divided Berlin. As the world marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, C.J. Schüler looks at the ways map-makers responded to the partition of the city – and to the rapid changes that have occurred since the Wall came down. And on’t forget to check out our Pinterest board with visualizations and infographics about the Berlin wall.

Just in time for the amazing landing of the Philae probe, a great selection of vintage visual gems by Michael Benson. These illustrations and maps reflect our ongoing attempts to visualize the cosmos, and our place within it.

Post by Adam Smith, honoring video game cartography, from cloth maps to digital records of procedural worlds. This article was first published in 2011, and was revisited recently.

Daniel Gross is publishing a special series over at Slate, titled Seven Wonders of the Modern World, a quest to identify the top technological marvels of the contemporary age. The second part is dedicated to dynamic mapping.

Some places attract young singles, whereas others attract married couples and families. Nathan Yau was curious how this varied across the United States, so he produced this special post breaking down the figures. Inspirtaion came from The Information Capital, a book of maps and charts about London by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti.

(Relationship Status Geography | Flowing Data)



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

Investigative Impact showcases the impact of investigative journalism around the world. It focuses on the critical contribution made by in-depth, systematic reporting to fighting corruption, promoting accountability, and fostering transparency. Despite its often dramatic results, the field receives relatively little support and is routinely under attack.


Recently, Paul Bradshaw spoke at the “BBC Data Day”, an event bringing together people at the BBC interested in data-related issues, techniques and tools. During the question and answer session following his talk one person mentioned a common reason why he wasn’t using data journalism techniques: “I haven’t got the time.” But increasingly when someone says “I don’t have the time” what they really mean is “But we’ve always done it that way”. Slides of this talk below:


Is data journalism more networked and open than computer-assisted reporting (CAR) and computational journalism? The differences are examined in a journal article in Digital Journalism by Mark Coddington of the School of Journalism of the University of Texas at Austin. He has developed four dimensions in his typology, based on his analysis of about 90 texts (academic and professional) about these forms of ‘quantitative journalism’. Story by Jonathan Hewett.


Another useful post by Paul Bradshaw, about one of the simplest ways to get started with data journalism techniques: search for – or better yet, write about – ‘Get the data’ articles.

One of the latest Kaiser Fung‘s praises went to this NYT graphic published on the eve of the Senate elections. The main differential of this visualization represents the best of data visualization: it carries its message with a punch.

(image: The New York Times)



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

Conservationists have been gathering big data for years, and new technology is allowing them to better analyze it. Lyndsey Gilpin shares 10 of those awesome projects happening around the world, and that use big data technology.

While the big data revolution presents immense opportunities, there are also profound implications and new challenges associated with it, including how best to protect privacy, enhance security and improve data quality. And for many agencies just getting started with their big data efforts, these challenges can prove overwhelming, as Ted Girard puts it in this article.

Article by H.O. Maycott, who believes that, amid all of the net neutrality debates in the U.S., the right to be forgotten debates in the E.U. and general public distrust of big data the world over in cities and countries in which internet usage is prevalent, it is the Living with Data series on Al Jazeera’s website, written by Sara M. Watson, a technology critic and fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, that anyone with any interest in data should read.

Paul Krill states in this article that statistical languages do offer a great fit for big data, but due to their specific use cases, they’re unlikely to catch to up to generalized stalwarts like Java and C. However, this month’s edition of the Tiobe index, which assesses language popularity based on data from search engines, has the the open source R language ranked 15th, after being 12th last month and 31st a year ago.

Post by Nuria Oliver, a scientific director at Telefonica looking at how the use of big data can help to fight pandemics such as Ebola and bird flu. She gave a talk at WIRED 2013​ on how anonymous and aggregated mobile phone data can be used to understand and combat the spread of infectious diseases.

Fun tip by Nathan Yau, about Big Data Pix, a “one-off tumblr that catalogs stock images that depict the tumultuous, rising sea of big data”.

This discussion aims to dissect the revolution of personalized medicine, and more specifically how big data and our decoded genomics will change the nature of disease, healthcare diagnoses, treatment, and regulation.



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

This week Matt Francis and Emily Kund are joined by Zen Master Jonathan Drummey. Along with the usual chat about Viz of the Day Jonathan tells how he wants everyone to get better Tableau.



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

A useful one hour session where you’ll run you through a variety of quick methods to enhance your mastery of Tableau through advanced chart types, workarounds, calculations, and combinations of features you’ve never thought possible.


This page provides arguments and reading material to explain why it would be beneficial for HCI and Infovis to switch from traditional null hypothesis significance testing procedures (NHST) and the dichotomous thinking they entail to reporting clear graphs, effect sizes and confidence intervals, and by offering more nuanced interpretations of our results. Work by Pierre Dragicevic and colleagues.

The D3 Deconstructor is a Google Chrome extension for extracting data from D3.js visualizations. A great new tool developed in the VisLab at UC Berkeley.

The monthly round up of articles and resources collected by Visualising Data‘s Andy Kirk. This one refers to September, 2014.

Telling a story, reporting news is a challenge, and in this presentation Gerald Holubowicz, founder of Chewbahat Storytelling Lab, covers some of the tools out there that make that process more effective.


What a great initiative: the Visualization Literacy website was created to help measure visualization literacy through a series of tests. The team that is involved in this project: Sung-Hee Kim, University of British Columbia, BC, Canada; Jeremy Boy, INRIA, Telecom ParisTech, EnsadLab, France; Sukwon Lee, Purdue University, IN, USA; Ji Soo Yi, Purdue University, IN, USA; Niklas Elmqvist, University of Maryland, MD, USA.

Referenced by Nathan Yau, Corpora is a collection of small datasets that are potentially useful in the creation of weird internet stuff. Developed by Darius Kazemi.

DataDraw is a JavaScript library for the Google Maps API which can be used to visualize and animate large amounts of data on a Google Map using a canvas layer. You can view the library in action on this impressive Wind Visualisation map.

Presentation by Steve Jennings, founding Partner at NordicDEi:

There are many different ways of telling a story, but everything starts with an idea. So to help you get started, the folks at Creative Bloq have rounded up some of the most awesome data visualization tools available on the web.

The guys over at Silk have developed a visual spreadsheet – a super convenient platform to host your crowdsourced data. At this webinar, you’ll learn how to create your very first silk and export data to create your final infographic with about the most expensive things ever sold.

More data fondness: Data.TheThirdPole is an open source geospatial database: a simple, searchable catalog of water-related datasets sourced from leading organization monitoring water in Asia. All data hosted on this site is available — with attribution to the data provider—for download in multiple formats.

While the selection of chart and graph plugins for WordPress is relatively small, there are still enough options available to make it easy to add a range of graphical representations of your data to your posts and pages. Here you’ll find most of them.

Keynote presentation by Eric Carlisle, a UI/UX Architect based in Baltimore, MD.



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

Dataviz 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. And next week, exceptionally, we won’t have this weekly column, as we run with the final touches for our revamped website. Stay tuned!

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.