1578 responses to the first data visualisation census!

The data visualisation census data collection exercise for 2013 is completed.

After seven days, endless prompts (sorry, that is over now!) and 1578 responses we have captured our first dataset to potentially get a sense of the shape, size and participation of the data visualisation field in 2013.

Thank you so much to everyone who has played a part in shaping the census questions, promoting the exercise and of course participating with your responses. You are all heroes (3 parts*) and heroines (1 part*).

So what now?

The intention of this exercise was for it to exist as an open resource, inviting anyone and everyone to take the data, explore it and find interesting insights. There have already been a few people pulling together quick visualisations but now at least we have a stable dataset with which to work.

If you are interested in doing some work on this data, please note the following resources/documents:

Published article – Here’s the original blog post that published details of the census process

Questions – Here’s a reminder of the questions with the original survey form.

Summary – A summary of the responses can be found here. Pretty useless apart from 3 sets of charts.

Responses – The final data set is here (I have taken a backup copy on the off chance that somebody’s dog accidentally chews it up…). Access is open to all but view only. I know certain people are interested in cleaning the data, so let me know if you want to add cleaned/modified columns back in and I will grant you specific ‘edit’ access.

Data/Analysis Notes – As I posted the other day, it would seem sensible to coordinate and collate as much of the work that emerges together where possible. This document is intended to try bring some organisation to the task of data cleaning, transformation, analysis and insights. It is completely open for anyone to refine, edit and add to. I’ve made a start with some things that occurred to me but it is just a starter for now. Use it and move it forward as you see fit!

Once we’ve some examples of analysis, visualisations and insights I will share the work in a further blog post.

Please share this and feel free to get involved yourself, thanks in advance!

* according to census results 🙂

Data visualisation census: Open doc for analysis notes

Thanks so much to everybody who has submitted, shared and discussed the ‘Data Visualisation Census’ that we launched yesterday. At the time of writing we are marching towards 950 responses which is a super return from a day and a bit – still have 6 days left to go so hopefully we can reach a target of around 2000.

I’ve noticed on Twitter, in particular, that people are now starting to look at the data and do some analysis. This is wonderful and is exactly the aim of this process to open up to anyone and everyone to do some analysis and unearth the key insights.

To maybe try and bring a bit of coordination to this, I’ve created a Google Doc to act as a hub for ideas and developments from this work.

Rather than discussions getting lost within the depths of social media, maybe this will help bring these interactions in to a single space that can lead to the furthering of ideas, the raising of concerns, data quality tasks, analytical thoughts, insight discovery and, of course, visualisation work.

Open ‘Data Visualisation Census 2013 (Analysis Notes)’

This is completely open for anyone to refine, edit and add to. I’ve made a start with some things that occurred to me or I saw others discussing but it is just a starter for now. Use it and move it on as the community sees fit!

Visual Sedimentation: Twitter’s favourite M&M colours

Thanks to Romain Vuillemot for sharing a really interesting visualization toolkit he has developed with Samuel Huron called Visual Sedimentation (VisualSedimentation.js), a JavaScript library for visualising streaming data, inspired by the process of physical sedimentation.

A static portrayal of this toolkit fails to do the strong design metaphor justice so here is a recording of a recent implementation of this toolkit to visualise the popularity of different colours of M&Ms.

This project runs on actual Twitter data collected over the previous 1 1/2 months starting a couple of days before the Superbowl right up to a current live feed. Romain describes how the idea came about:

I just went to one of those M&M’s store at Time Square and they have those containers everywhere with M&M’s in it 🙂 I guess they fill them every day, but during the day as people serve themselves from the containers, then they become empty and you can see some trends. This is where I got my inspiration and tried to replicate it in the opposite way (by filling up containers instead of emptying them)

What I found most interesting – as Romain observes himself – is how this approach offers a fusion of the bar chart for today’s comparison of colour popularity blended into a streamgraph where the M&M’s count is transposed to be represented by width and the story switches to a continuous stream over time.

This is why our original toolkit on sedimentation is quite useful: we have a running metaphor behind all our design decisions, and we try to be consistent with it. And the result is often very satisfying, as it is smooth and people seem to understand it very well (which makes sense as this is a metaphor and basically surrounds us with mountains, hills, rivers).

This second project is also really interesting, showing the patterns of how different people progress their work leading up to a deadline. I’m sure we’re all familiar with that last hour rush! Listen to the full version with sound on and you will hear audio representations as an extra layer of the story.

Are you interested in data visualisation?

Are you interested in data visualisation? A very open question but given you are reading this post the chances are you are. Whether you only occasionally read blogs, are a full-time professional, or fall somewhere in between, it doesn’t matter – you are a key part of this field’s ecosystem.

Accordingly, you are invited to participate in a short data gathering exercise.

This small-scale, light-touch census represents the first attempt to capture the size, shape and composition of the data visualisation field today. Everybody and anybody who is interested in data visualisation is invited and encouraged to take part.

The survey includes just 7 quick questions. It exists as a Google Form and can be accessed here or, for convenience, completed using the embedded form below. (FORM CLOSED)

The process will run for one week, closing at 10am (UK time) on Tuesday 26th March. The responses are and will remain openly accessible to anyone to facilitate the sharing of the analysis and key insights. Hopefully, we might see some visualisations emerge also!

Thank you in advance for taking part and if you know of others who would answer ‘yes’ to this question, please share the link to this post.

Changes to RSS feed

As most have you have probably read by now, Google is shutting down its popular feed reader Google Reader.

For those of us who consume updates from our favourite sites this was a really simple and unfussy tool and it is an annoyance to see it going. However, it is not the end of the world as there are endless alternatives out there. It is more about the short term pain of changing settings and setting up new workflows.

Rather than wait until July I’m starting to switch things over now.

As most others are doing, I’m ditching Google’s Feedburner, the usual mechanism for delivering RSS feeds from this site. If Reader is being chopped by Google then it is fair to assume Feedburner will be serving out its notice period soon also. So, I’m giving people enough notice from now before switching off the Feedburner feed and moving to just a new feed.

If you follow this site on RSS, you will need to subscribe to a new feed URL: http://www.visualisingdata.com/?feed=rss.

Whilst we’re here talking about ways to follow visualisingdata.com updates, here are the other channels through which I share updates:

 Twitter Follow me here

 Facebook | Like me here

 Google Plus | Circle me here

 LinkedIn | Connect with me here

Best of the visualisation web… February 2013

At the end of each month I pull together a collection of links to some of the most relevant, interesting or thought-provoking web content I’ve come across during the previous month. Here’s the latest collection from February 2013.


Includes static and interactive visualisation examples, infographics and galleries/collections of relevant imagery.

UX Blog | ‘Sandy and the Buildings of NYC’ – This map paints the surface footprint of every building in the city of New York (pre-Sandy) by where it stands in relation to modeled flood risk from a general storm surge of hurricanes…

National Post News | A tower infographic I actually liked (about The Walking Dead)

Jerome Cukier | Jerome Cukier’s visualisation about the gun-related homicides in US 2010

David Rumsey | An extraordinary collection of vintage and contemporary maps (37,844 of them!)

Brainpickings | A Visualization of Global “Brain Drain” in Science Inspired by Abstract Art

Moebio | Santiago’s had the painters and decorators in and his moebio.com site has been impressively retuned (have a play with the device in the bottom left)

dwtkns | Interactive timeline reveals the progress of streets being cleared of snow in NYC during the downfall of early February

Washington Post | What’s next for the Catholic church?…

LA Times | …and this about Global Catholicism

FastCo Design | Peek Inside The Notebooks Of The World’s Best Comic Artists

John Millward | Deep Inside: A study of 10,000 porn stars and their careers

Harvard Business Review | Multi-framed timeline breaking down the realities of worker productivities – ‘Vision Statement: The Multitasking Paradox’

CartoDB | Meteoritessize: Every meteorite fall on earth mapped

New York Times | Dissecting a Trailer: The Parts of the Film That Make the Cut

FastCo Design | Haze App Lets You See Weather Info, Not Just Read It

The Why Axis | The New York Times and Tesla Motors Engage in Chart Warfare

Boston Globe | ‘Marking the start of second term, Obama calls for unity and action’ – visualization of the language used in inaugural addresses

Halfblog | The infographics of xkcd

Brainpickings | Life in Five Seconds: Minimalist Pictogram Summaries of Pop Culture and Historical Events

Vimeo | TouchWave: Stacked Graphs on the iPad (ACM ITS presentation)

The Standards Manual | ‘This site is dedicated to serve as an archival record of a first edition NYCTA Graphics Standards Manual designed by Massimo Vignelli of Unimark International’

New York Times | Girls Lead in Science Exam, but Not in the United States

Flowing City | Huge collection of visualisation examples ‘visualizing the city built of data’

Guardian | NFL salaries by team and position – interactive

hrwgc | US Drone Strikes, mapped

New York Times | ‘Among the Oscar Contenders, a Host of Connections’

Bahrain Visualized | Bahrain: Two Years On

Pop Chart Lab | The Various Varieties of Vegetables

Neoformix | Obesity around the world

Wired | App reveals hidden world lurking in your videos

FastCo Design | Infographic: Everything You Were Afraid To Ask About Poop


The emphasis on these items is that they are less about visualisation images and are more article-focused, so includes discussion, discourse and interviews

EagerEyes | Robert introduces his (and Jock Mackinlay’s) paper on ‘Storytelling, The Next Step for Visualization’

Xocas.com | Making of a student’s project: Katya Fialkova

Salon | How Netflix is turning viewers in to puppets [ironically on a site draped in customised cookie-driven ads…]

Erich’s Packing Center | Packing equal copies – one for the maths/coding fans

Source | ‘A conversation with data visualisation experts: Working notes on the art and its tools from a General Assembly panel’

npr | Chart Check: Did Obama’s Graphics ‘Enhance’ His Big Speech?

DDJ | Data Visualisation Tools and Trends to Watch: An Interview with Datavisualization.ch

Baseline Scenario | The importance of Excel

Excel Charts | Finally revealed: the optimal number of categories in a pie chart

Sociable Physics | The dangers of big data

Simon Rogers | Video: what happens when you get a bunch of data journalists together to discuss journalism

New York Times | Why We Love Beautiful Things

.net | Seven dirty secrets of data visualisation

SimoleonSense | Interview with Amanda Cox: Visualizing Information at The NYT

National Infographic | Judging the World’s Best-Designed Newspaper contest

alt.chi | (Paper) ‘Critical Infovis: Exploring the politics of visualization’

Google Docs | Lev Manovich’s collection of ‘Resources: Creating and publishing visualisations of cultural data’

Hadley Wickham | (Paper) ‘Tidy Data’

FastCo Design | Infographic: Font Lets You Make Data Maps Of The U.S., Just By Typing

DDJ | Data-Driven Documents (D3), Defined – post by Scott Murray

Thought Faucet | Introducing the flowgraph

Poynter | How journalists can create better explainers

Big Think | It’s Always Chile in Norway: the Five Types of Territorial Morphology

Mapping Complex Information | Evidence-based information design principles

Chrys Wu | Tools, Slides and Links from NICAR13

Learning & Development

These links cover tutorials, learning opportunities, case-studies, how-tos etc.

DDJ | Data Journalists Discuss Their Tools of Choice

Viewtific | Case study: creating a 50-state data visualization on elections administration

For Journalism | Collection of courses around data journalism with each course teaching towards a practical news-application project

Coursera | New course coming in July 2013: Maps and the Geospatial Revolution

If We Assume | The United States of Starbucks

Revolutions | Free e-book on Data Science with R

National Infographic | America strikes oil

PJIM | Volume V, Issue 1 of Parsons Journal for Information Mapping

Martin Graham | Huge collection of links about journals, conferences, labs, people and so much more content around Information Visualization (last updated 2011, however)

Subject News

Includes announcements within the field, brand new sites, new (to me) sites, new books and generally interesting developments.

MIT Press | New book: ‘Digital_Humanities’, by Peter Lunenfeld, Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Todd Presner and Jeffrey Schnapp

Variable.io | New generative design studio in London

Amazon | Not a new book (1969) but new to me: ‘Practical Charting Techniques’, by Mary Eleanor Spear

Mapping the Nation | Companion site to new book ‘Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in 19th Century America”

Synergy Art | Continuing the map/book theme, here’s another book about maps! ‘Map of the World’ from Gestalten

Shape of Design | ‘The Shape of Design’ by Frank Chimero


Any other items that may or may not be directly linked to data visualisation but might have a data/technology focus or just seem worthy of sharing

Explore | The West Wing breaks down what’s wrong with maps

Snow the Movie | That’s right. A movie about Dr John Snow’s battle to expose the truth about London’s cholera outbreak in 1854. Grab the popcorn.

Summary of my ‘All Analytics Academy’ session

Beth Schultz has done a sound job of encapsulating some of the key take-aways from last week’s ‘All Analytics Academy’ session I took part in, specifically focusing on some of the key objectives for visualisation design I spoke about.

I’m logging this more for personal scrap-booking reasons (or weblogging, if you like?) rather than any vain attempt to celebrate ‘me’ and the importance of my wisdom but think about this: what if this proved to be the most important thing you read today? Could you sleep knowing you’d missed it? I know you are tempted so… click here.


New work from Interactive Things: Fukushima

In the last hour or so, Benjamin Wiederkehr and his talented crew at Interactive Things have shared work they were involved in for Swiss German-language newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. The project is titled ‘No time for anger‘ and looks at four stories two years on from the Fukushima disasters.


Just wanted to highlight two really nice visualisation features of this project.

Firstly I really like this relatively simple approach to show magnitude of evacuees across Japan’s major cities. Rather than going for the obvious (or maybe more accurately ‘automatic’) approach of showing a map and dropping different sized circles over each location, I think this is a great alternative. It maintains a sense of Geography by displaying the relative distance from Fukushima and then delivers on the reading-accuracy front with the use of slim bar charts. Reminds me of the work done by Bill Rankin.


Secondly, this chart illustrates the different levels of risk from and strength of radiation, presenting a range of different contextual scenarios to then enable comparison with the reality of the situation in different parts of Fukushima. I love the animated particle legends, feels like a living texture and perfectly captures the essence of these shocking values, especially the levels at the plant itself.


Even though I can only read this through translation from ‘Google Translate’, it is clearly a very immersive and impressive project. You might sense the possible influence from the recent multimedia, multi-chapter story from the New York: ‘Snow Fall‘.

Well done to all involved!

Data visualisation programmes and qualifications

The contents of this post are now published on the References page

The ‘Art of Clean Up’: creating order out of chaos

“The Art of Clean Up: Life Made Neat and Tidy” is a new book by Swiss artist Ursus Wehrli presenting his wonderfully perfectionist’s eye for obsessively creating order where there is none.

I talked about physical visualisation in yesterday’s post about the tactile wood maps but this work goes a stage further, reorganising and laying out elements of everyday life and imagery based on size, colour, shape and any other ‘orderable’ physical variable.

Chips1 Chips2

What I find intriguing about these works is the idea of looking at a scene in a completely fresh perspective, breaking it down in to non-cohesive components and isolating all the individual constructing elements. I wonder if there is something we can learn from this approach (or at least mindset) and apply to our visualisation design techniques. Perhaps by looking more forensically at our designs we can isolate those elements that represent data, those that are purely chart apparatus, the colour schemes, the hierarchy of sizes, the text usage etc. From this analysis we could then judge the suitability and justifiability of what we include in our work, what is redundant and what is superfluous.