Help shape my training schedule for early 2012…

Having now completed most of my Autumn schedule, I am now turning my attention to plotting my next series of data visualisation training courses for the first half of 2012.

Public Schedule

I still have spaces available on two public training events in Derry (26th January) and London (9th February) but I am looking to line up a number of extra events in the UK, Ireland, Europe and hopefully the US. This is your chance to influence where I go. As I’ve outlined before, my idea is to hold courses in locations as dictated by the level of interest received.

You will already see the range and relative popularity of locations that have been requested to date. Regardless of whether your preferred town or city is listed, just get in touch to tell me about your preferred location. I will log your interest and keep you posted about if or when I am likely to bring my training roadshow to your area.

Private Events

If you are an organisation looking to train up a number of your staff in the art of data visualisation, why not consider a private, customised training event just for your staff. To discuss your requirements or to arrange a possible event, once again please just drop me a line and we’ll work out the best solution for you.

Visit my dedicated training page for more information about the course content and objectives.

Data-design related gift for Christmas?

With just a month before Christmas, the pressures of present shopping are slowly increasing as each day passes. For those of you data-heads with a particular penchant for influential German electronic pop-meisters Kraftwerk, you may be interested in the latest project from London-based ‘Data Illustrator’ Stefanie Posavec – a glossy print showing the length of cassette tape needed to record Kraftwerk’s Computer World.

Stefanie, who has been a prominent name on the data visualisation circuit over the past few weeks and has previously been involved in notable projects such as the Literary Oragnism, the Left vs. Right project with David McCandless and the design for the iPhone app edition Stephen Fry’s latest autobiography.

As you move your eye along the poster’s internal typographical maze, you see the physical representation of the length of tape needed to record the album (51.625 metres), with each individual track’s position similarly encoded along the journey.

I was interested in working with an obsolete technology that we all have fond memories of: the cassette tape. After recording a song, the song becomes an object with a specific length. Through this conversion to an object, time and sound become tangible. I chose to work with Kraftwerk’s ‘Computer World’ album because it praises the future of technology in a way that seems dated now. This album seemed an appropriate way to represent the lost feeling of excitement of the cassette tape as a new technology.

If the path is cut from the poster, and left to hang in an tangled strip to the floor, one is able to touch a tangible representation of the length of tape needed to record the album.

Posters can be purchased now for £35 + P&P. A signed edition of 200 prints are available. 25% of all profits will go to Ganet’s Adventure Fund, a registered charity that benefits a small primary school in Northern Malawi.

[Incidentally, you can see other design-related gifts that might trigger some ideas via this collection from Wired Magazine.]

Reviewing the London data visualisation marathon

As you will have seen from previous posts, I was very grateful to be invited to contribute to the data visualisation marathon in London. This was a 24 hour visualisation contest where students from across the UK (as well as a few teams from France and Belgium) competed to take a fresh and interesting dataset of certain relevance to London and produce compelling visualisations that tell a story.

The event commenced with a brief session of opening talks from the organisers, sponsors and guest speakers (such as David McCandless below) to help launch the event, introduce the challenge and give the participating students some inspiration and guidance on how to go about the challenge.

The challenge involved a really interesting brief to explore and visualise a detailed dataset which revealed the attitudes and perceptions of UK residents towards the 2012 London Olympic Games. The student participants were asked to try to advance insights that could help London and future host cities get the most out of the Olympics.

The students set about their task instantly and demonstrated really commendable energy, attitude and team working in the face of both an advanced visualisation challenge as well as the daunting context of a 24 hour, through-the-night working shift.

For a number of the teams who entered, this would have been their very first experience of taking on a data visualisation challenge, especially as they were representative of a wide variety of different degree subjects. Moreover, several teams were made up of first year undergraduates who will still be enjoying the first semester of their university careers. Some teams, it seemed, were also comprised of individuals who had not even met before to the event.

All this contextual information is extremely important to appreciate when making judgments about the quality and effectiveness of the resulting contest entries, a task I finally managed to complete last night.

Having been the final presenter before the launch of the challenge, and deliberately deciding to focus my talk on process and the importance of identifying the visualisation’s purpose, objectives and questions, I was a bit disappointed to see that only one or two teams subsequently (and visibly) took time to prepare and plan out their time, the task and the types of insights they were hoping to impart. I can completely understand the novelty of the situation and the excitement of just getting on with the task but there were several teams who almost immediately retreated to their laptops and launched various programming environments to begin coding. 

The data contained over 100 fields (representing 4 demographic identifiers and 10 survey questions) and 2000 respondent records. With further, optional, contextual data available for the 2016 Brazil Olympic games, this provided an extremely rich resource from which a wide range of potential findings and stories could have and should have emerged.

I’m not going to go into detailed narrative about any individual submission, nor reveal my favourite submissions or otherwise. However, I would make the general comment that too few teams demonstrated an effective analytical response to what was the key line in the brief – “try to advance insights that could help London and future host cities get the most out of the Olympics“.

Overall, however, I would like to concentrate on the positives and really commend the students on their efforts. It is not by any means an easy discipline to undertake successfully without training and/or prior experience, and they will learn a great deal from the challenge. Incidentally, I would be more than happy to offer any help or advice to participants should they wish to contact me. 

It was a great event, extremely well run and facilitated by the outstanding duo of Charlene and Alexandra and top marks to for running these events. Hopefully there will be more to look forward to like this in 2012.

A gallery of thumbnail images can be seen below and you can visit the visualisations themselves to explore each one in detail (especially given a number of them are interactives).


24 hour data visualisation marathon

Today I’m at the 24 hour data visualisation marathon in London. By the time this post is published I will have presented my “Data visualisation team talk” to the student participants, and hopefully provided them with a few pointers about how to undertake this challenge.

One of the worst words in the world is slideument – something that combines the roles of a slideshow and document. Unfortunately, what I’ve provided in the embdeded slideshare below is exactly that, a slideument.

With only 15 minutes to present I decided the participants would be better served having access to my intentionally “wordy” set of slides, and get maximum benefit from the detailed content, rather than try and take useful notes as I whizz through them. So here it is…

Best of the visualisation web… October 2011

At the end of each month I pull together a collection of links to some of the most relevant, interesting or thought-provoking articles I’ve come across during the previous month. If you follow me on Twitter and Google+ you will see many of these items shared as soon as I find them. Here’s the latest collection from a October 2011:

blprnt | 138 Years of Popular Science

A List Apart | Take Control of Your Maps (from 2008)

Air Traffic ContrLOL | Incredible live feed of Air Traffic Control data

NYT Sunday Review | It’s All Connected: An Overview of the Euro Crisis

Visual Communication Lab Blog | Announcing Historio: A tool for rewriting history

Think Vitamin | Art and the Web: Color

Bret Victor | “Things I’m thinking about, AKA Research”

Fathom | Changing Fortune

Data Remixed | Comparing Word Usage in Sacred Writings

Christoph Viau | Scripting Inkscape with d3.js

Mike Bostock GitHub | Some of Mike Bostock’s presentation slides about D3 from his VisWeek talk

o’Reilly Radar | Data journalism and “Don Draper moments” – Alastair Dant on how tech, data and narrative come together at The Guardian.

New York Times | The Default Choice, So Hard to Resist

Guardian | The future of UK aid – Interactive

blprnt | Quick Tutorial: Twitter & Processing

blprnt | UPDATED: Quick Tutorial – Processing & Twitter

Smashing Magazine | Design is About Solving Problems | Design Education: Brilliance Without Substance

Six Revisions | Gestalt Principles Applied in Design

Fastco Design | Gorgeous Vintage Floodplain Maps That Look Like Modern Art

Greg Judelman | M.Sc. Thesis – Knowledge Visualization

Fastco Design | Infographic Of The Day: The Re-Redesigned London Tube Map

Yahoo | The Yahoo Mail Visualizer

Eager Eyes | The Many Names of Visualization

Epic Graphic | The Sunday Times Does Data Visualisation

Fell in Love with Data | Tools from the Pros #3: Jan Willem Tulp on D3 and Protovis

Fell in Love with Data | Shaking our heads won’t make visualization any better

Flowing Data | Nobel laureates by country and prize

Flowing Data | The Don’ts of Infographic Design

Infosthetics | Interview: A View Behind the Scenes of… Viral Infographics

Infosthetics | Opinion Visualization: What Do People Feel about their Economic Outlook

Infosthetics | Showing Geo-Located Points with the ‘HexBin’ Method

Drawar | The Squiggle Of The Design Process

O’Reilly Radar | Visualization of the Week: Sentiment in the Bible

World Economic Forum | Global Agenda Survey 2011

Silicon Angle | Q&A with Tableau Software Chief Scientist and Co-Founder Pat Hanrahan

Techcrunch | Raises $2 Million To Make Even More Infographics

Graphic Sociology | Visualizing world population growth

The Why Axis | Interactive Hurricane Trackers and Transforming Viewers into Users – a review

Understanding Graphics | Infoposters Are Not Infographics: A Comparison

Under the Raedar | Mapping Methods

UX Mag | The Psychologist’s View of UX Design

Jim Vallandingham | Recreating Old Visualizations with New Technology

Worry Dream | Up and down the ladder of abstraction

Worry Dream | Magic Ink – Information Software and the Graphical Interface

Flowing Data | Where people don’t use Facebook

Infosthetics | The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Visualizing Global Economic Growth

Buzz Feed | Occupy Your Money

Matthew Ericson | Visualizing the News at AIGA

Matthew Ericson | When Maps Shouldn’t Be Maps

Fastco Design | Infographic: If 7 Billion People Lived In One City, How Big Would It Be?

The Guardian | The UN predicts the world’s population explosion: visualised

The Guardian | Public spending by UK government department: an interactive guide

NASA | NASA Releases Visual Tour of Earth’s Fires

Perceptual Edge | Report from VisWeek 2011: Is information visualization a science?

Perceptual Edge | VisWeek – What Constitutes the Best Research?

Present Your Story | MTA’s New Interactive Transit Map Design

Smashing Magazine | The Do’s And Don’ts Of Infographic Design (Editor – but not quite on the money…)

Nieman Journalism Lab | Word clouds considered harmful

TEDTalks | Richard Seymour: How beauty feels

Tech@State Data Visualizaton | Edward Tufte presentation

Views of the World | The Human Shape of Germany in HD | Q&A With Mahir Yavuz

Wired | Q&A: Nick Halstead on mining Twitter’s firehose with Datasift

Microsoft/YouTube | Productivity Future Vision (2011)

Pitch Interactive | Word Frequency Comparison Between the Bible and the Quran

Presenting the top five most popular posts on Visualising Data during October 2011:

Google+ launches ‘Ripples’ visualisation

Best of the visualisation web… September 2011

Part 7: The essential collection of visualisation resources

Google Analytics introduces ‘visitor flow’ visualisation

Part 8: The essential collection of visualisation resources