by Infogram
Create infographics

Data Viz News [80]

Our third-in-a-row bulletin with the best data viz reads

March 4, 2015

If there’s a season of the year when the “best of” type of posts pop-up everywhere, it’s the holidays season, from gift lists (1, 2, 3) to the most important development of the year. In visualization, we had so many of these posts between the last couple of weeks of December and the first ones of January, that it was virtually impossible to catch all of them at that time. So, before we move on to the third epic Data Viz News post in a row (see the first two here and here), we’ll share the links to some of those ‘best of 2014′ posts, in no particular order:

Predictions for Journalism 2015 | Nieman Journalism Lab

And now, here are today’s recommended links:


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

A number of Tableau users already had the chance to try out the beta of the 9.0 version. The company announced this in mid January, and several of the features in Tableau 9.0 were shown at the 2014 Tableau Conference. You can see the keynote presentation from TC14 to get an idea of what’s coming out. Also read this follow-up, with examples of those new featured.

The rise of the data journalist and computational journalism is an unstoppable trend, and Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism has been on the forefront of examining that trend and how it can help newsrooms and educators strengthen journalism. To that end, it has announced it has secured $3 million in additional funding from the Knight Foundation to expand its efforts in digital journalism. The funding will extend Knight’s earlier contribution to the program for another three years.

News from space: the US Department of Energy issued a key approval for construction of the camera for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which will take snapshots of the universe with a whopping 3,200 megapixels — or 3.2 gigapixels — of detail. When the telescope goes fully online in 2022, it will take some of the highest resolution pictures of our universe ever produced.

Belgium-based data storytelling startup Datylon has created a plug-in for Creative Cloud versions of Adobe Illustrator on Mac OS X that lets Illustrator users work with any SVG charts built with javascript. This includes charts built with D3.js, and the Highcharts library, with other sources coming. The video below demonstrates how this plug-in work:

As a project for Andrew Gelman’s Statistical Communication and Graphics graduate course at Columbia, Michael Andreae, Yuanjun Gao, Dongying Song and Jonah Sol Gabry created shinyStan, a package for “R” and an app powered by Shiny. The full version of shinyStan v1.0.0 can be downloaded as an R package from the Stan Development Team GitHub page here, and we have a demo up online here. And the best part is that, if you’re not an R user, the team is working on a full online version of shinyStan too.

Partial screenshot of shinyStan
(image: shinyStan)



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

In “Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks” – a book we mentioned when it was launched, back in 2014 -, Steven Heller and Rick Landers take readers behind the scenes of the creative processes of more than 50 information architects working today. This colorful collection of doodles, drawings, and digital mock-ups offers invaluable insight into how a pile of statistics can evolve into artful diagrams about anything from the shopping habits of American men to the adulteration of olive oil. Article by Carey Dunne.

An infographic of nearly 1,000 Nobel Laureates over 111 years, developed to explore the phenomenon of geniuses and brain drain | Accurat

Back in January, Ben Jones started a periodic series of blog posts entitled “Avoiding Data Pitfalls” where he’ll be suggesting ways to avoid common errors people make when working with data. The pitfalls range from philosophical to technical, and from analytical to visual. Besides this first post, the second is also out, tackling the issue of Small Samples.

While we’re on ‘series’, the goal of this one by Robert Kosara is to describe a few of the most fundamental papers in visualization-related fields, published in the past 30 years. Here’s the first one: Treisman, Preattentive Processing

Twitter is awash with data graphics purporting to show some kind of injustice, anomaly or discrepancy. Before retweeting one of these you may want to consider two things: a)Is the data trustworthy?; and b) Does the data actually support the claim in the tweet? A good tip – with a practical example – by Tim Brock.

In the midst of the worst measles outbreak in decades, a lot of excellent data visualizations and infographics were published. We tried to feature the best ones in both our print an interactive examples of visual journalism round ups – like the one Andy Kirk talks about in this post. Created by the Wall Street Journal graphics team, it portrays data about the impact of vaccines in battling infectious diseases in the 20th Century, and was featured here on Visualoop. The question Andy poses in the title led to a nice discussion in the comments section, so don’t forget to check that.

Partial screen capture of the interactive infographic Battling Infectious Diseases in the 20th Century
(imagem: The Wall Street Journal)

The folks over at Morphocode recently visited the MIT Senseable City Lab at the SMART research centre in Singapore. At SMART, the Senseable City Lab investigates how digital technologies change the way people interact with the city, often producing amazing pieces of visualization. Here you’ll see some of the most recent projects they’ve been working on.

One of the most discussed graphics in the past couple of months was actually presented in 2013 here on Visualoop, when we brought the work of Russian infographic designer Kir Khachaturov. The discussion around the effectiveness of the circular shaped-timeline used to depict the events of the Arab spring came alive after Alberto Cairo’s post “Redesigning a circular timeline,” in which he shares thoughts, responses and an alternate way to visualize the data presented. Following that post others discussed the graphic both in the comments section or in specific posts, like this particular one by Jenn Christiansen.

Infographic for Russian news channel “RBC”, by Kir Khachaturov



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

Five converging global trends may present geography with world attention that may be unprecedented in the history of the discipline. These include geo-awareness, geo-enablement, geotechnologies, citizen science, and storytelling. Each of these recent trends is transforming the audience for geography and how geography is taught, perceived, and used, as you’ll see in this article Joseph Kerski. This post is excerpted from an article that appeared in Geography Compass 9/1 (2015).

Nathan Yau highlights one of interactive visualizations that we picked as one of our favorites in 2014. The Invasion of America allows you to explore how, between 1776 and 1887, the United States seized over 1.5 billion acres from America’s indigenous people

Partial screen capture of the interactive map The Invasion of America

After attending the National Library of Colombia’s 2nd Digital Book Week as a speaker, and where he also gave a workshop on digital mapping tools, Mauricio Giraldo Arteaga thought it would be useful to share the tips and tools he mentioned in that workshop. Great article.

This year marked the first year that the State of the Union address was made available as full text for perusal and commentary prior to the speech. The folks of CartoDB gathered some of the interactive maps produced by news outlets about hot topics such as economy, healthcare and equal opportunity.

During recent workshops in different countries, Juan Velasco has been confronted with a surprising – and shocking – reality: 95% (if not more) of newspapers and magazines (particularly out of the US) still produce maps at a fairly basic level by taking screen grabs from Google Maps and painstakingly retracing them in Illustrator. Line by line, one push of the mouse after another. This article aims to help out, with several tips and tools – and it includes this classic by National Geographic magazine:

All oil and gas platforms, pipelines, leases, wetlands and protected area in the Guld of Mexico, made with GIS layered data. Copyright National Geograpic Society



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

“The wave of bullshit data is rising, and now it’s our turn to figure out how not to get swept away.” That’s how Jacob Harris opened his text for Nieman Lab’s special with predictions for 2015. This article is a follow up to that text.

This past semester, Derek Willis worked with students at West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media on a project that combined public affairs reporting with data exploration and visualization. He shares some of the lessons he took from that experience.

In this session, data journalist Mark Wert gives tips on navigating the numbers for stories.



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

Aggregate data and decision making are being hoarded by a few technology companies with powerful data infrastructure. Does it have to be this way? Or could we create a future in which this data infrastructure is available for use by anyone in the world? A series of reflections by Michael Nielsen.

Dan Hogan is founder, president and CEO of Nashville, Tennessee-based Medalogix, a health care technology company that provides analytics and workflows to home health providers. In this article he breaks down several big data myths.

The rise of big data technology allows marketers to collect a tremendous amount of information about an individual with very little to start with. The challenge with having that kind of power? Keeping discrimination out of the picture. Written by Katherine Noyes.

For Alistair Croll, the Internet of Things and big data are basically two sides of the same coin; building one without considering the other is sort of “a recipe for doom”.

Here are the biggest big data headlines for February 2015. This is the second of what will be a regular monthly Big Data News Bulletin by Bernard Marr.



Insights from well-known names in the above data visualization related-fields:

A conversation with London-based designer and data illustrator Stefan Posavec, who we also had the pleasure to interview a couple of months ago. Interview conducted by Johnathan Openshaw.

Co.Design has partnered with the Brooklyn design studio Hyperakt to bring you Lunch Talks, a video series of conversations with smart, creative people. Here, a conversation with our good friend Manuel Lima.



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

The infogr8 team have been doing their own weekly round ups with infographics, visualizations and other related pieces of content.

This report provides insight and explanation behind the code Brad Boehmke used to produce the following graphic which is formatted to resemble the illustration provided in Edward Tufte’s classic book Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd Ed. (page 30).

Another series of posts that caught our attention recently, this one about D3.js. Peter Crook has already publish three posts of the ten (1, 2, 3).

A simple, straight to the point post by Dan Murray, sharing his personal maxims that relate to Tableau deployments, data visualization and data governance.

Graph-tool is an efficient Python module for manipulation and statistical analysis of graphs (a.k.a. networks). Contrary to most other python modules with similar functionality, the core data structures and algorithms are implemented in C++, making extensive use of template metaprogramming, based heavily on the Boost Graph Library.


That’s it for another Data Viz News. 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.