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Data Viz News [83]

Closing this overwhelming week of hundreds of links to articles and resources about data visualization

March 7, 2015

Well, it was hard, but we really managed to publish one edition of Data Viz News every single day of the week, something that was a first here on Visualoop! As we explained in the first post of this short series, we are also intensively looking for alternatives, and your help would be very much appreciated: just let us know on Twitter (@visualoop) what you think would be the best way to deliver this much amount of articles. Looking forward for your ideas.

Next week, we’ll begin a three-week trip to Europe, to start our coverage of Malofiej 23 and – hopefully – meet some of you. If you’re planning to attend this event, gives us a shout also on Twitter,and let’s see if we manage to grab a beer and eat some “tapas”!

Now, enjoy this final round up, and if that’s not enough, check out the previous posts (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5).


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

Two days ago (5 March), to celebrate the 503rd birthday of Flemish mathematician and cartographer Gerardus Mercator – who in 1569 discovered how to create a flat map that takes into consideration the curvatures of the earth -, Google published this cool this Google Doodle. A nice way to open this post, right?

Google Doodle celebrating Mercator
Google Doodle celebrating Mercator

Just made available to the public, ai2html is a script for Adobe Illustrator that converts your Illustrator document into html and css. Download the latest version of the script here by clicking the link and saving the file to your computer.

The Times and Sunday Times is following in the footsteps of Vox Media and NPR by releasing its own open-source image creation tool. CardKit was inspired by Vox Media’s Meme tool, also open-sourced on GitHub, which allows the outlet’s journalists to easily create socially shareable image cards compromising a picture, a logo and a line of text.

One of the new things about the 2015 Data Journalism Awards is that submissions are being reviewed monthly by a pre-jury. Five to ten projects per month will be shortlisted and submitted to the jury in April. In this
newsletter, you’ll see the first set of projects -all of which are available in this gallery.

IBM has purchased AlchemyAPI, a small Denver startup, as part of its effort to expand its Watson cognitive computing system. The move comes as IBM shifts from hardware to focus on business analytics, cloud computing and mobile services. Last year, the company invested more than $1 billion in Watson, best known for beating human contestants on the “Jeopardy!” game show. That included $100 million for venture investments.

CORRECT!V and the Rudolf Augstein Foundation have agreed on a strategic cooperation to further education in data journalism. The fellowship is targeted towards fully employed as well as freelance journalists from local and regional media outlets. The first fellowships started in January, and until March 15th you can apply for the second round.

Non-profit organisation Media Diversified today launched a directory of experts from ethnic minorities with the aim of promoting a wider range of voices in the media. The directory features professionals in fields from academia to youth culture, which news organisations can hire to comment on stories and better represent their audiences.

Media Diversified's  Directory of journalists
Media Diversified’s Directory of journalists

We close this section with a mention to all the new announcements by MapBox, made during the first couple of months of 2015. Animated heatmaps and grids with Turf, Mapbox Education and the release of Turf 1.4.0 are just some of the many highlights you’ll find in the company’s blog.



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

For its 6th anniversary, the Sid Lee agency in Paris installed Arduino-powered sensors throughout their office, and brought the data together in a single dashboard. The result, shared by Nathan Yau in this post, is a fun look into the inner workings of the agency in real-time.

Because everyone wants to find hidden treasures in the huge mountains of information available out there, new tools for processing, analyzing and visualizing data are being developed continually. This post by Andries Van Humbeeck focuses on data processing with R and visualization with the D3 JavaScript library.

For a musical experiment, programmer and visual artist Brian Foo translated the EEG brainwave data of an anonymous female pediatric patient with epilepsy into a soundscape, creating an auditory journey through a seizure. Nice find by Becky Chung.

So, as most of you know, the Internet was abuzz last week over a picture of a blue and black dress. Or was that a white and gold dress? That was the question. What color is that dress? John Ponte wrote this post with a visual breakdown of the biggest “who-cares?-apparently-everybody-does” of the year so far. here’s also the one by XKCD.

Dress Color | XKCD



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

More about Gerardus Mercator, here in an article by Phil Edwards, and also in The Indepenedent, by Antonia Molloy, with lots of facts about his role in cartography. His Mercator projection map, invented in 1569, was the primary map that navigators used for years, although a few problems with the model have been raised over the centuries. And the name he chose for his massive collection of maps — “Atlas” — is still widely used.

(image: Gerardus Mercator)

Over the last month there has been some great examples of mapped visualizations of weather data. Weather-grid.GL is another great map visualization library, which works particularly well in displaying atmospheric data on an interactive map. Tip by Keir Clarke.

Esri is now curating an enormous and rapidly growing library of ready-to-use maps, imagery, and geo-referenced data for the entire world. This online collection of authoritative content, together with the new Web GIS pattern, is hoped to have a significant impact on the way people use GIS. Article by Esri founder’s Jack Dangermond.

In the first 10 years of OpenStreetMap, hundreds of thousands of people have mapped 25 million miles of roads in every country in the world. Here is a look back at how the most detailed map of the world started, by Eric Fischer.

10 years of OpenStreetMap


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

For International Women‘s Day, March 8, Internews celebrates the contribution of three courageous women journalists, who often work in difficult and dangerous circumstances. Also read Abigail Edge‘s list of 10 women that are paving the way in digital journalism and technology.

The School of Data Fellowship Programme in South Africa was a six-month programme funded by Indigo Trust, managed by Code for South Africa (Code4SA), in partnership with School of Data. The objective of the programme was to recruit two fellows in South Africa – one in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town – in order to promote data literacy in partner organisations in each city. The programme ran from July 2014 to December 2014, and Jason Norwood-Young sums-up what took place during that period. And check out the School of Data 2015 Fellowship Programme here.

At Media Party Miami – a two-day event in Florida that brought together journalists, hackers, academics and students invested in media innovation across the U.S. and Latin America, and organized by ICFJ Knight Fellow Mariano Blejman -, Juan Manuel Casanueva led a workshop, that he now summarizes in this post.



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

Interesting: just as computer users back up their laptops in case they break or are lost, Estonia is working out how to back up the country, in case it is attacked by Russia. The project aims to ensure that even if Estonia’s government is sabotaged it will continue to function over the internet, providing services and enabling payments. The lessons will be valuable to any organisation concerned about disaster recovery.

McKinsey & Company wanted to know how much of the data gathered by sensors on offshore oil rigs is used in decision-making by the energy industry. The answer, as you’ll see in this this article by Susana Gonzalez, is not much at all.

This article is part of a series of “Forbes Insights Profiles” of thought leaders changing the business landscape. Here, you’ll know more about Ion Stoica, Co-Founder and CEO, Databricks. Written by Bruce Rogers.

Talk by Valerio Pascucci, Professor, SCI institute and School of Computing, University of Utah, Laboratory Fellow, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


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

After announcing that he’d be joining the team, the folks at CartoDB published this short Q&A with Paul Ramsey.

One of the interviews we published recently here on Visualoop was this one with journalist and SND-e director Javier Errea, one of the key persons responsible for the organization of Malofiej Summit. In this interview, Javier talks about the event, the state of infographic design and visual journalism in Spain, and more.

Javier errea

Also a must-read, in case you missed it, this exclusive conversation with Robert Simmon. Simmon is a data visualizer and designer currently working with Planet Labs, and previously 20 years at NASA, co-founding the Earth Observatory web site, where he also wrote in the Elegant Figures blog. We had the chance to do some catching up with Robert just before the end of 2014, to talk about visualization, the challenges of scientific communication and his time at the Earth Observatory.

Robert Simmon featured



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

This article is just one of the many written by Kaiser Fung during our Data Viz News’ two-month hiatus. Fungs critical commentary and constructive observations have made him one of the go-to blogs about visualizations, recognized by hiss peers. Other recent posts we recommend at Junk Charts are Three short lessons on comparisons, Boxes or lines: showing the trend in US adoptions, An unsuccessful adaptation of a classic, a startling chart about income inequality, with interpretative difficulties, three axes or none, just to name a few.

“Tree and Network Visualisation using D3 Layouts”, by Peter Cook at London d3.js meetup Feb 2015.

At the end of each month, Andy Kirk pulls together a collection of links to some of the most relevant, interesting or thought-provoking web content he came across during the previous month. Here’s the latest collection from January 2015 – including a couple of mentions to our posts.

February was #Datainthewild month over at Tableau, and in this link you’ll see company’s handpicked list of favorite places to find “Data in the Wild”.

Speaking of lists with references, Lisa Charlotte Rost‘ huge collection was built upon a bunch of syllabi available out there, like the ones by Scott Murray, Tamara Munzner and Alexander Lex, as well as online reading lists by Alberto Cairo and Andy Kirk. And it’s all organized in a useful spreadsheet.

A guide to help you navigate the tool landscape for learning and making data visualization, compiled in this presentation by Amit Kapoor.

Anscombe’s quartet comprises four datasets that have nearly identical simple statistical properties, yet appear very different when graphed. Each dataset consists of eleven (x,y) points. They were constructed in 1973 by the statistician Francis Anscombe to demonstrate both the importance of graphing data before analyzing it and the effect of outliers on statistical properties. Good post by Stephen Turner.

In making complex maps, CartoDB.js makes it easy to work with to your data tables and maps stored in CartoDB. CartoDB.js allows you to connect to your stored visualizations, create new visualizations, add custom interaction, and query your raw data from a web browser. A how-to guide by Santiago Giraldo Anduaga.

In his talk, Colm Mulcahy explored how card tricks provide an entertaining and often surprising forum for mathematics. The talk included demonstrations, and explored mostly new principles in maths and their applications to card tricks.


Time to close this overwhelming week of hundreds of links to articles and resources about data visualization. Like we said before, feel free to let us know if we missed some other great read, and don’t forget to join us on our Facebook Group, where we share many of the links mentioned above. And we’ll be back with more Data Viz news after we’ve attended Malofiej 23.

Written by Tiago Veloso

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