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40 must-watch keynotes of 2014

Our favorite videos with presentations held at the top data vis events and at local meetups

December 27, 2014

As we continue our series of posts looking back at the best content shared here on Visualoop throughout 2014, more and more we are convinced that this year was, indeed, a remarkable one for visualization. Take for instances, the many events that took place all over the world, with stellar panels of keynote speakers and thought provoking discussions taking place on and off the venues.

These events are key to understand what are the trends and practices shaping not only the traditional fields of cartography, journalism and infographic design in an somewhat academic level, but also the application of visualization in the corporate levels, where secrecy obviously rules and the access to real success stories is limited- yes, we’re referring to big data success stories here.

So, the information and insights you gather from these events are invaluable. And even if for the majority of folks out there it’s virtually impossible to attend all the big conferences, we’ve also seen the rise of local meetups and workshops, many of which filled with interesting people and unique perspectives as well.

And thanks to the Internet, and specially places like YouTube and Vimeo, plus the hard work of the folks behind these events, you have many of these keynotes available in video, as it happens with interviews, another type of high-value content that we looked at here and here. Today’s post looks back at some of our favorite presentations recorded on video, that we highlighted at some point in our Data Viz News round up.

Hope you enjoy the hours of knowledge ahead:

Soo, most of the big events have made available the full presentations for free. Representing all the 2014 Eyeo Festival keynotes available here, Visualizing Algorithms by the brilliant Mike Bostock, and our good friend (and Visualoop editorial board member) Santiago Ortiz. In his presentation, Santiago shares the story on why the last 6 months of 2012 happened to be the most stressful and creative of his life. Also, don’t miss Santiago’s presentation at Visualized , available here.

In academic institutions such as universities, many of the lectures that are given on a regular basis are also shared in the Internet. In t5his example, Giorgia Lupi, design director at Accurat, presents a series of exploratory data visualizations as part of MFA Interaction Design’s lecture series.

The team behind Tapestry 2014 also made all the talks available online, in the official YouTube Channel. It’s your chance to watch Aron Pilhofer, Alberto Cairo, Jon Schwabish, Santiago Ortiz, Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg, just to name a few of the high-level keynote speakers of the second edition of this event.

Nitesh Chawla, a computer science professor at Notre Dame and self-proclaimed “dataologist,” argues that Americans’ health and wellness would improve if we paid more attention to the facts and circumstances of people’s daily lives. Tracking personal data on a large scale, he says, can help us move from insufficient healthcare to abundant health.

One of the top keynotes at this year’s Strata Conference, that took place in Santa Clara (CA) last February, was Ben Fry‘s, principal of the data visualization agency Fathom, and the video of his presentation is now online:

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

More data visualization overdose from a major conference: The folks at Visualized have a great video page with the talks of the New York 2014 edition (still being updated), that took place a in February. Representing all the videos there, the presentations by François-Xavier Fringant & Caroline Goulard, and the one by Jan Willem Tulp:

This talk describes some lessons Dean Wampler learned while consulting on Big Data projects. He comments on the strengths and weaknesses of several representative tools and offer guidance for evaluating others, and discusses how to craft integrated solutions that are focused on meeting particular goals.

This presentation, by Heyjin Kim and André Malan, highlights some of the Ember.js hacks that they have found while working with this framework

In this keynote held at the Chalmers Initiative Seminar on Big Data, April 2014, Terry Speed reports on some reflections on Big Data issues, offer some suggestions for statisticians, and summarize some theory which, in his opinion, has relevance to the analysis of data, whoever does it. Thanks to Nathan Yau for sharing this one.

With a distinct panel of speakers, this session of the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship explores how to maximize the “good” promise of the data revolution for social change while managing its potential downsides.

Three of the many videos available on the International Journalism Festival‘s official YouTube Channel, another event that gathered lots of attention in 2014.

Alberto Cairo shared his tips for visualizing data in a more effective and focused way at the Chicas Poderosas conference in Miami, including the four guiding principles to remember when preparing a visualization or infographic. Here’s the full talk, and you should also save time to watch The Journalist, the Artist and the Engineer: The Ethics of Data Visualization, Alberto’s keynote at the Online News Association conference. [Disclaimer: Alberto Cairo is a member of Visualoop’s editorial board]:

Talks by Mike Bostock, Andy Kirk, Robert Simmon and many more, at one of this year’s prime data visualization events. The second OpenVis Conference took place on April 24th and 25th in Boston – and a special mention to the beautiful page they created to share all the videos. Here we share couple of those, by Eric Fischer and Robert Simmon, representing the event – and btw, take a look at the speakers of the 2015 edition. Congratulations to Irene Ros and Bocoup!

For Python geeks: PyData‘s YouTube channel has the presentations held at PyData Berlim 2014. This one below provides an overview of the various data sources and data formats that are relevant for self tracking as well as strategies and examples for analyzing that data with Python.

What is data journalism? Why does it matter? How has the maturing field of data science changed the direction of journalism and global investigative reporting? The speakers in this session discuss the implications for policymakers and institutional accountability, and how the balance of power in information gathering is shifting worldwide, with implications for decision-making and open government.

This was a talk given as part of the HasGeek Fifth Elephant event on Data Journalism at India Today Mediaplex office, Noida. (Note: Sound stops at 9.29 and resumes at 12:34).

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.

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. [Disclaimer: Uldis Leifert is CEO of, the company behind Visualoop]

The author of The Visual Organization, Phil Simon, gave this presentation recently at Zappos, in which he talks about his book and big data.

In this talk, Dr. Anu Acharya of MapMyGenome project outlines the challenges and opportunities that big data presents for the field of genomics.

The Graphical Web Conference 2014 is another of the 2014 events that also has a great volume of interesting video keynotes available, thanks to the videos produced by John Wilson of Winchester University School of Journalism. Representing this event, the
speech by BBC News‘ Editor, Amanda Farnsworth, on Visual Journalism at The BBC, and the presentation by Nicolas Garcia Belmonte, on how Twitter does data visualization.

Are infographics clever teaching tools, or misleading clickbait? How has coverage of state and local politics fared in the digital age? And has data journalism really deepened our understanding of policy issues? Those were some of the questions addressed in “The Impact of Data-Driven Journalism on Public Policy Discourse,” a lively panel discussion presented in Washington, D.C. as part of the Chicago Harris Public Policy Lecture series, in conjunction with the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. Michael Scherer, Washington bureau chief for TIME Magazine, moderated the discussion among Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle, Twitter data editor Simon Rogers, Washington Post opinion writer E.J. Dionne and founder Ezra Klein.

Recently, Alberto Cairo pointed us to a new TED talk published in Gapminder’s website. This time, Rosling shares the stage with his son, Ola, responsible for many of the graphics and interactive visualizations used in these talks.

Self-driving cars were just the start. What’s the future of big data-driven technology and design? In a thrilling science talk, Kenneth Cukier looks at what’s next for machine learning — and human knowledge.

In this session, Angela Bassa, Manager of the Data Science Team at EnerNOC, covering design concepts, narrative structure, and the principles of good quantitative data visualization.

Todd R. Johnson, professor at The University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics, explains Data Governance and Visualization in this presentation.

As information visualization methods mature, we see a growth of information visualization integrated with traditional linear text narrative. This is especially important, as showed in this keynote by Elijah Meeks (Stanford University Library), in the development of research and publication methods for humanities scholarship, where scholars have traditionally relied entirely on text narrative without even static figures or maps.

A full presentation by our friend Randy Krum, of Cool Infographics and InfoNewt.

Peppered with several real-world case examples, this session by Prof. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger also provides concise strategic ideas how to succeed in the Big Data age.

In this talk, Dominikus Baur presents a quick run-through of all the relevant aspects of mobile web-based datavis: What graphics technology (Canvas, SVG, WebGL) to choose? How to include all the neat HTML5-supported sensors to do cool stuff (GPS, device orientation)?What amazing things can be done with multi-touch input? What changes for information and chart design? How to best debug mobile visualizations?

Information designer and journalist Nigel Holmes was one of the several guest speakers of the Places&Spaces lecture series, that took place in the University of Miami’s Fall semester. Also shared here is the one with Stephen Few and John Grimwade. Yes, together.


Time to close this special post, but keep watching this space, for more of our 2014 favorites.

Written by Tiago Veloso

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