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Data Viz News [81]

The fourth installment of this special link-fest we've prepared for you this week

March 5, 2015

Big week for journalism and visualization events: Today, the 2015 Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference kicks off, while yesterday, one of the most awaited gatherings of this year took place in Athens, Georgia (USA). According to what we saw on Twitter (#tapestryconf), Tapestry Conference had an insightful set of talks, and since we’re at it, we decided to take a look at some of the recent announcements made about other events that we’d all like to attend – besides Malofiej 23, of course, since we’ll be covering this one.

We also have many more recommended links in this post – the fourth in our special catching-up Data Viz News series we’ve been publishing this week (1, 2, 3). More than 30 new articles about visualization, cartography, data journalism and data science, so sit back and enjoy the hours of knowledge and inspiration ahead:


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

The third edition of OpenVis Conference features, once again, an amazing panel of speakers, and this year they managed to offer three “diversity scholarships” to attend the event. Also, don’t miss this interview with Irene Ros, to know a bit more about OpenVis Conference.

Announced this past week, Visualized 2015 brings together the data science, data visualization, and UX design communities to inspire the creation of better information experiences. The annual NYC gathering will take place October 8 and 9 at the Times Center.

Visualized 2015, one of the must-attend events of the year
Visualized 2015, one of the must-attend events of the year

The Fifth Annual Government Big Data Forum takes place on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. This interactive event will bring together seasoned leaders and experts from both government and industry to discuss challenges and solutions to common Big Data issues.

The GEN Editors Lab programme is a worldwide series of hackdays hosted by leading news organisations such as The New York Times, The Guardian and El País. Editors Lab brings together developers, journalists and designers from top newsrooms to build news prototypes during an intensive two-day competition. The Global Editors Network has already run two successful Editors Lab seasons and the third season (2014-2015) is already up and running.

A one-day event in Madrid, focused on the role of big data in science. The panel of speakers includes our good friend Carlos Gámez Kindelán – who, by the way, has a brand new website that you should check out.

Big Data Science
Big Data Science

The IEEE VIS 2015 Arts Program, or VISAP’15, showcases innovative artwork and research that explores the exciting and increasingly prominent intersections between art and visualization. Through a dedicated papers track and an art show that runs concurrently with the IEEE 2015 VIS conference, the Arts Program aims to foster new thinking, discussion, and collaboration between artists, designers, technologists, visualization scientists, and others working at the intersection of these fields. Submissions to VISAP’15 are due on June 15th and the theme for the Call for Entries and Artworks this year is Data Improvisations.

Cartography is often seen by the public as work opposed to imagination, grounded entirely in established fact. This award is to recognize this work and the perspective it brings to the field of cartography, and the contributions it makes to the world as a whole. It is awarded to a person or group of people and their overall body of work, not for a particular piece of work.

More awards: this one honors the visualization of data to share information in “a creative, sharable and exciting way. Eligible visualizations include infographics, charts, dynamic landing pages, interactive maps, music generators, audio visualizers, projections and more”. The 7th Annual Shorty Awards ceremony will take place in New York City and will be livestreamed on the web in April 2015.

Temple University researchers have assembled the largest and most accurate tree of life calibrated to time, and surprisingly, it reveals that life has been expanding at a constant rate. The tree of life compiled by the Temple team is depicted in a new way – a cosmologically-inspired galaxy of life view – and contains more than 50,000 species in a tapestry spiraling out from the origin of life.

The tree of life compiled by Temple University researchers is depicted in a new way – a cosmologically inspired galaxy of life view – and contains more than 50,000 species in a tapestry spiraling out from the origin of life.



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

Many of the best science infographics from the past 40 years are compiled in Understanding the World: An Atlas of Infographics, a beautiful new tome published by Taschen – including the one below, from Jaime Serra and Lucas Varela for the Argentinian newspaper Clarín. Another book recommendation by FastCo’s Carey Dunne.

(image: A world of sensations Design: Jaime Serra, Lucas Varela | Clarín)

For Jer Thorp, “a large-scale residency program placing an artist in every library, archive and museum would rejuvenate institutions and promote critical engagement with information”. This article includes some successful examples, tips and overall recommendations on how this idea could work.

Ashley Whitlatch, from Prezi, had the chance to attend one of Edward Tufte’s six-hour workshops. In addition to the visualization side of Tufte’s speech, Ashley shares her favorite takeaways on giving presentations.

In the 30th session of podcast, you’ll learn how to uncover fraud in data, and how to apply those techniques in Excel.

A series of articles by Jerome Cuckier that was very well-received by the data visualization community, about the pitfalls to avoid in dashboard design.

Jessica Hagy is a professional writer and illustrator well-known for her minimalist ink-on-index-card illustrations, which are found at her site Indexed. Now, she has a new book out: The Art of War Visualized: The Sun Tzu Classic in Charts and Graphs. ’nuff said.

(image: Jessica Hagy | The Art of War Visualized: The Sun Tzu Classic in Charts and Graphs)



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

Another article that gained a lot of praising as soon as it came out, by Joshua Stevens. It introduces the idea of bivariate choropleth mapping and demonstrates a technique for creating your own.

Utilities need to reassess their practices, particularly in this age of rapid change touching everything from climate and renewable resources to technology. One technology utilities might want to take a hard look at is their GIS. After all, utilities have been using GIS for ages, as Bill Meehan explains in this article.

This tutorial on how to build your own data-driven map was posted originally over on Kimono’s blog, and republished in this guest-post section of CartoDB’s blog.

A collection of maps “so hilariously bad that you may never trust the form again”. Not a surprise, since the bulk of the collection Max Fisher pulled together comes from cable TV news.

This is the latest of the series of QGIS video tutorials that Steven Bernard has been publishing.


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

After Felix Salmon gave some advice to young journalists trying to break into media, our good friend Mariana Santos added her two-cents to the discussion – in a much more positive way that Salmon actually did.

David Carr had already conquered the entwined worlds of Big Media, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley by the time he taught his first course. And yet, argues Molly Wright Steenson, his single syllabus points a way forward for how educators should approach the teaching of journalism.

Data journalism adviser Eva Constantaras, who runs workshops for local media in developing countries, explains to Catalina Albeanu how open data is used in Afghanistan. And don’t miss this exclusive interview we published last year with Eva.

We couldn’t leave this one out of this section: Reeves Wiedeman explains how the “Gray Lady” gets made in 2015. Great piece.



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

Doctors in London have stored 1,600 beating human hearts in digital form on a computer. The aim is to develop new treatments by comparing the detailed information on the hearts and the patients’ genes. Dr Declan O’Regan, who is involved in the heart study, said that this new approach had the potential to reveal much more than normal clinical trials in which relatively small amounts of health information is collected from patients over the course of several years.

Many businesses are producing spreadsheets that track every movement in the company, but management often lacks the ability to interpret the data and present it in a way that supports actionable decision-making. This post – part of a collaboration on the intersection of Data Visualization and Culture by Gavin McMahon and Stephanie Evergreen – tackles this issue.

A few people have come up with jokes about data and analytics, shared in this post by Bernard Marr – with no guarantees they will make you laugh out loud. They might even make you feel more confident that robots will one day make better comedians than people.

Presentation for The Briefing Room by Dr. Kirk Borne of George Mason University, describing the changing landscape of analytics.


Conversations with data visualization experts, infographic designers and personalities related to all these fields.

This in-depth interview conducted by Ezra Klein with President Barack Obama was one of the highlights of Vox’s young existence. And it has a lot of charts.

In this interview, Bruce Sterling weighs in on the concept of the convergence of humans and machines with a rather challenging perspective.

In this episode of the O’Reilly Data Show Podcast, Carlos Guestrin talks about the early days of GraphLab and the evolution of GraphLab Create.



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

Matthew Zeiler, PhD, Founder and CEO of Clarifai Inc, speaks about large convolutional neural networks

Huge list of links to books, articles, posts, and other resources, gathered by Ramon Martinez, who, in case you haven’t seen it yet, has this great blog about health data.

Round up with some best Javascript libraries that you can use to draw charts and graphs on a webpage.Compiled by Henri Wijaya.

SVG comes with several shape elements – rect, ellipse, line, polygon – that can create basic forms. To create a map, streamgraph or other more complicated shapes, path elements are used. Instead of specifying the size and position of a path element with attributes like height, radius or x as we do with the basic shapes, the geometry of the path element is determined by a single d attribute. Handy explanation by Adam Pearce.

Pat Hanrahan talks about data visualization and Tableau at Stanford Journalism, during the Computational Journalism Speaker Series on Feb. 11, 2015.


That’s it for another Data Viz News. Let us know if we missed some interesting resource, and don’t forget to join us on our Facebook Group, 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.