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Data Viz News [82]

Another special post, with the latest recommended reads about visualization, infographics and data journalism

March 6, 2015

And Friday’s here, which means we are almost done with our special series of Data Viz News. It ends tomorrow, and hopefully we managed to bring to you a sample of what happened in the fields of visualization, data science, cartography and data journalism in the past two months. You can read the previous posts here, here, here and here.

In addition to all that accumulated content, this was a particularly busy week, with two major events: Tapestry Data Storytelling Conference and 2015 NICAR Conference. So, it is no wonder that we not only managed to survive the overwhelming avalanche of content, but that we actually feel that there’s still so much that was left behind.

So, please forgive us if we missed some great article or blog post, but feel free to leave us a comment with the proper link – and tomorrow we’ll close this insane sequence, before we prepare ourselves to attend Malofiej 23!

Here are the recommended links for today’s post:


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

In the context of the Cartagena DataFest, the Human Development Report Office (HDRO) is organizing a data visualization competition based on its own human development data. The objective of this competition is to allow a broad cross-section of data users and artists to share with us their interpretation of human development data. The deadline for submission is 20 March 2015. The winners will be announced in Cartagena on 21 April 2015, and finalists will be showcased in HDRO’s data visualization gallery.

Human Development Data Visualization Competition
Human Development Data Visualization Competition

Back in December 2014, Alan Rusbridger announced that he’d be standing down as editor-in-chief of the Guardian after 20 years, leaving the news organisation to become the chair of its ultimate owner, the Scott Trust. Staff of the Guardian and Observer have just voted in favour of Katharine Viner, the current editor-in-chief of Guardian US, in an indicative ballot on who should be the next editor-in-chief. Besides Viner, the other three candidates are Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University and a non-executive director of Guardian owner the Scott Trust; Wolfgang Blau, GNM’s director of digital strategy; and Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of

In case you’ve miss this one, thirty-two of the best Earth Observatory images are facing-off in Tournament Earth 3.0, since March 2 and through April 6. You can vote for your favorite images from the past year, whittling the total from 32 to 16 to 8 to 4 to 2 in a month-long tournament of remote sensing madness. The competition will be stiff in the four brackets — Data, Art, Event, and Photograph — so it is up to you to separate the winners from the losers. Go back each week to vote in each new round.

Next Thursday 12th March, Andy Kirk will be doing a 60 minute webinar hosted by Tableau. The title of the talk is “Fresh Thinking on Communicating with Data” and is based around the theme of some of Andy’s recent talks. For more information and to register for the live (and recorded) webinar, visit this Tableau page.

One of the most active companies that we’ve been seeing lately, in terms of announcements and additional features, CartoDB launched everything, from new plug-ins and data migration tools, to static and heat maps. Follow the company’s blog to keep up with all the news and featured digital cartography projects.

The lists with all the Award of Excellence winners and Medal Winners are available, as well as the one with the 17 newspapers that survived the long weekend of elimination rounds in the World’s Best-Designed™ Newspaper competition. See the judges’ comments about what made the World’s Best-Designed™ finalists stand apart at the SNDDC site. The winner or winners will be announced at the SND Workshop in Washington, D.C., this April.

For the first time, a NASA satellite has quantified in three dimensions how much dust makes the trans-Atlantic journey from the Sahara Desert to the Amazon rainforest. The NASA Scientific Visualization Studio put together an excellent visualization of this geo-phenomenon:



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

Many of our readers are familiar with Moritz Stefaner‘s experiments and workshops mixing food and visualization. In this post by John Metcalfe, you’ll see one of those “gourmet extravaganzaa” for geeks, that took place in Berlin during the last Open Eye Award. Moritz teamed up with experimental-art curator Susanne Jaschko to create this “statistic-spiked dinner” – not only Berlin, but also in Helsinki and Barcelona.

One of the creation s in this ‘data cuisine event’, by Klaas Glenewinkel and Jess Smee

In the last couple of months some very interesting mixes of text and small, interactive graphics explaining quite complex mathematical, statistical and other concepts came into Maarten Lambrechts‘ view. Here he lists some of these new and powerful explorable explanations.

A very polite rant by Kaiser Fung, this time nor directed at some bad chart or misleading graphic, but instead to… a portable cellphone charger. But you’ll understand how it applies so well to visualization.

This post by Tim Brock outlines 7 common “mistakes” in creating all sorts of visualizations, with alternative solutions to avoid them. Here’s the first: “Don’t use a chart when a sentence will do”.

The Wall Street Journal’s graphic piece “Battling Infectious Diseases in the 20th Century: The Impact of Vaccines,” which contains a series of graphs showing the incidence of selected infectious diseased by state and year, was subject of several posts by the data viz community, and featured here on Visualoop. Xan Gregg was interested in getting the data and trying other ways of visualizing it in JMP.

And we close this section with a mention to another of Moritz Stefaner‘s projects: On Broadway, made in collaboration with Daniel Goddemeyer, Dominikus Baur, and Lev Manovich. This interactive installation represents life in the 21st-century city through a compilation of images and data collected along the 13 miles of Broadway that span Manhattan. The result is a new type of city view, created from the activities of hundreds of thousands of people, that you can explore here.



Ranging from ancient charts to modern digital cartography and GIS technology, here you’ll find the best links of the week: provides online resources and training for journalists, designers and developers to dive into the world of data visualization using geographic data. The website was completely revamped recently, so go visit and see all the new resources and tutorials that are available.

Dana Hunter pulled together a huge list of “Women of the Geoblogosphere” that is absolutely amazing, and in this follow-up she explores each one of those blogs.

Easy-to-use mapping tools give researchers the power to create beautiful visualizations of geographic data. Mark Zastrow talks in this article about the recent developments in digital cartography, and new mapping landscape.

Mapping your data can help to provide new insights on your research findings. However, many scholars are put off by the steep learning curve demanded by Geographic Information Systems (GIS) such as ArcGIS from ESRI. Another overview of free tools in this presentation by Shawn Day.



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

The featured entries for our latest This is Visual Journalism round up came from the Times of Oman: the leading English newspaper in Oman just completed 40 years, and they made some nice infographics around the celebration. In this post, Mario Garcia reviews the work the team led by Antonio Farach, under Art Director Adonis Durado, created for the 87th Academy Awards, “which show us why the combination of creativity and hard work can still make print so special”.

(image: Oscars Fashion, one of the infographics by The Times of Oman)


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

A part of Fast Comany’s annual The World 50 most innovative companies, this is the section dedicated to outstanding tech companies that offered data analytics solutions.

Long-form narrative about the work done by Donny Moore, the official “Ratings Czar” for EA Sports’ Madden NFL video-game franchise. Written by Neil Paine, with graphics by Reuben Fidcher-Baun and illustrations by Mike McQuade.

An overview of some methods and principles for big data visualization. The presentation quickly hits on the topic of dashboards and some cyber security uses.

Data can really be anything, including images, geolocation figures, texts, numbers or some combination thereof. Thanks to the Internet of Things, more of that data is actually describing a physical thing. For us sci-fi geeks, that inevitably raises the question: Can data create a virtual world to actually interact with these things? Article by Loraine Lawson.

From answering heath-related questions in its search results to a fitness data platform for developers, Google is becoming increasingly ingrained in the fabric of our daily health-and-wellbeing habits. But, as Paul Sawers reports, behind the scenes, the Internet giant is also working to expedite the discovery of drugs that could prove vital to finding cures for many human ills.

This is a talk by Professor H.R.Tizhoosh at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (January 21, 2015).



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

Social Business Hour co-host Rachel Miller and Pipeliner CRM CMO Eric Quanstrom discuss data visualization – what is it and why should you care?



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

For the past five years, Chrys Wu has been doing a remarkable job with her NICAR Links List, compiling presentations, tutorials and other related reads. Here’s this year’s round up, sure to grow as NICAR 2015 unfolds.

This month, the Tableau community produced tutorials around the upcoming release of Tableau 9.0; dug deeper into what’s possible with Tableau and R; and even produced a handy list of Tableau-approved bloggers – this and much more in Sasha Pasulka‘s latest Best of the Tableau Web.

A huge list with guides and manuals focused on investigative journalism and providing case studies and examples from around the world. Most are available for free.

In this detailed tutorial, Nick Moreton runs through creating three different sorts of charts using both inline CSS and SVG.


That’s it for another special edition of 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.