Just about this time last year I posted about Quadrigram, a visual programming environment ‘to gather, shape, and share living data’.
Having written this week about storytelling and successes of data visualisation, it was a coincidence that Alberto Gonzalez Paje, from the Quadrigram team, got in touch with me recently to invite people to contribute cases to a new initiative they are running called ‘data stories’ and a request for anybody interested to submit ideas, case studies, examples or applications. I’ll leave it to Alberto to articulate the background to this request:
As working with data becomes more integrated in classic professional practices, new disciplines such as data journalism, data consulting, and data research expand the realm of information visualization outside scientific and aesthetic concerns. The professionals or “map-makers” of these new disciplines are seeking to gain leverage over their data and augment their capacities to squeeze and mash it.
This cannot be effectively achieved by adopting frameworks for processing and visualizing data that are based on programming languages. These frameworks are incompatible with the non-technical backgrounds of these professionals. Other wizard-based approaches are too limited to leave room for creativity.
Therefore, there is an inherent need for new practices for working with data, based on a more ergonomic approach that recalls how an artisan manipulates clay to create custom and expressive sculptures. In essence, this is the philosophy behind Quadrigram, an online tool with a unique visual language.
Quadrigram tries to bridge the gap between information technologies and professionals looking to build new types of data experiences, such as storytelling with data.
We just started an initiative called “data stories” that aims to tell stories where data visualisation plays a key role in decision making or problem solving. We want to publish on our website/blog specific cases where data visualisation has played a key role in solving a problem. An example case for this initiative was the data visualisation participant census data, a perfect example of data story. Here is an example of a “data movie” showing the patterns and dimensions of insight from this data gathering.
So if any of you out there have any case studies, requests or ideas for potential applications of using Quadrigram to tell stories, please contact Alberto via firstname.lastname@example.org and see what data stories emerge.
Simon Scarr is an extremely talented infographics designer and, until very recently, was the Graphics director at The South China Morning Post based in Hong Kong. He is about to take up a great new role as Deputy Head of Graphics for Thomson Reuters, based in Singapore.
If you don’t recognise the name, you probably don’t pay enough attention to me! I first came across Simon’s (and his team’s) work at Malofiej 20, noticing a number of his pieces across a great portfolio. When he started blogging his work last year (GraphicsInfo) this gave a new audience access to the outstanding work emerging from the South China Morning Post and I included him/his work in my ‘10 most significant developments‘ collection at the end of 2012. I was thrilled to hear his team won a total of 5 awards at this year’s Malofiej event, including a presitgious Gold award for Simon’s own work on this infographic about Picasso’s Paintings.
I invited Simon to take part in an interview just as he was about to begin a new life! Here he talks about his career, his background as an infographic designer, the work of the SCMP and many other things about this fascinating world.
Can you tell me a bit about your career/education background – how did you become an infographic/visualisation designer?
After graduating from college, where I studied general Art & Design, I found myself looking at different degrees and Universities to further my studies. Most of the options involved the broader Graphic Design degree, but one of my tutors handed me a brochure for another course I’d never heard of, Information Graphics and Newspaper Design at Newcastle College (UK). There were a few examples of graphics in the brochure and a brief outline of what infographics are. I was intrigued and after an interview with the course leader, I left knowing this is definitely what I wanted to pursue. At the time I think this was the only diploma or degree focusing purely on information graphics and newspaper design in the UK.
My first ever infographic came on the opening day of the course when we were asked to do a hand sketched step-by-step process of how to peel a banana. Using no words, we had to explain everything visually. This was the first and most important lesson I learned – show it don’t tell it.
How did a Brit end up working as a Graphics Director in Hong Kong for the South China Morning Post?!
After graduating I worked for The Herald, a daily broadsheet in Glasgow. This was a great paper to learn at the time as the paper was full of good design and graphics, recently winning World’s Best Designed from SND. I would say this is where I did most of my real learning. I had a great Graphics Editor who helped me develop early in my career.
After five years it was time for a change and I accepted a job with Reuters News Graphics Service who had recently relocated their main global graphics desk from London to Singapore. A few months later I relocated to Asia.
I worked for Reuters for four years covering a range of breaking news, features and sports topics, including a month-long Winter Olympics posting in Canada. Then I was introduced to a role with the South China Morning Post which was very interesting to me as they were looking for someone to come in and help strengthen and build graphics through the paper. This was especially intriguing because it was my first opportunity to shape graphics my way.
For those not familiar with it, how would you describe the paper, its target demographic etc.?
The SCMP is a daily broadsheet first published in 1903 with a circulation of 100,000, mostly distributed in Hong Kong and surrounding areas. Close proximity to the mainland and sources throughout the country have helped the publication build a reputation for authoritative and influential reporting on China. The paper is the only English language broadsheet in Hong Kong and has a readership made up of affluent locals with a strong understanding of English, expatriates and visiting tourists.
With this unique positioning, the newspaper benefits from a healthy advertising climate, fueled mostly by luxury advertisers targeting mainland Chinese tourists and affluent locals. This has made it possible for the paper to maintain a strong position despite changes in the overall print landscape. That said, the importance of digital has also been recognized and a lot of resource and effort was put behind the recent re-design and re-launch of the website.
Can you tell me a bit about the context of working in the graphics department at the SCMP? How many staff do you have? What is the editorial culture and its relationship with the graphics team?
The department structure consists of an Art Director/Head of Department, Stephen Case who focused on the illustration and general artwork in the paper, as well as running the department, leaving myself, as Graphics Director, to take control of the information graphics. I also acted as his deputy in the running of the department. Then there is Senior Illustrator Henry Wong and Senior Infographic Artist and illustrator Adolfo Arranz, who we recruited from Spain. There are a further three full-time and three part-time artists/illustrators as well as some remote freelance contacts. In addition to the artists on the team, we created the role of a Graphics Coordinator, to facilitate our process and support the team. This role was extremely important and the Coordinator had to deal with a lot of the behind the scenes work such as collating requests, negotiating time and sizes of graphics, proofing and rewording some text, chasing up data sources and helping with some in-depth research. Having a Graphics Coordinator allowed me to spend more time directing the actual work and bigger projects, occasionally getting to do some projects myself too.
I think the editorial culture and attitude towards graphics has changed a lot in the last couple of years. Initially the appreciation for infographics was not as sophisticated and the primary role of graphics was to look good and substance and quality of information was secondary. Changing this perception, along with other bad graphic expectations was one of my priorities to address. I wanted to show that graphics can have just as much impact through the story they tell, by keeping them clear and easy to understand, rather than being embellished with unnecessary artwork. Not everyone was convinced by our cleaner approach to infographics and this proved a challenge. After time, and through a few examples, people started to understand. The most noticeable change was probably after the graphic I created illustrating Iraq’s death toll back in 2011. This was a very simple chart using only colour to suggest blood. As the graphic was in progress, a few people in the newsroom suggested splashing drops of blood on the page but we resisted all unnecessary artistic touches.
There has since been a shift from being more of a service department to a serious voice in the newsroom. As well as suggesting graphics to accompany stories often our graphic pitches would initiate (or inspire) stories such as the road traffic graphic below which ran with a feature on Hong Kong’s traffic problems.
Can you briefly describe the typical situation and process behind the development of a graphic? Typical timescales, design workflow?
There are three different ways graphics can come about. First there could be a request from a journalist or editor who has some data and would like a chart or map for example. Second, there is the morning and afternoon news conference and a weekly advance news/features meeting. Something can be raised in here or we can spot something on the news lists and suggest graphic options. And finally, we’d often pick up government data and keep an eye on major upcoming news events and pitch graphic ideas to the editors ourselves.
Graphics can take anywhere from an hour or two for simple charts and spot maps to a few weeks depending on the content. The full-page feature graphics we often create to go on the back page are usually planned a few weeks in advance and worked on in the background while dealing with daily work. This is a regular display page and we could make full use of the space. The only problem we had was keeping up with demand as they became very popular.
Can you pick the top three favourite pieces you have worked on/that have been published at SCMP?
My favourite would be the Iraq graphic already mentioned above. For a graphic of this size it is one of the simplest pieces of work I’ve done but also has a very strong visual impact. The information is very clear and easy to understand.
Another favourite would be the Beatles graphic. I chose this one because I had fun creating interesting and playful ways to show the data using records and music notation. Hopefully it put a smile on a few readers’ faces as well as ours.
Picasso’s Paintings was another one of my favorites and had to be the most labour intensive graphic we’ve ever done. The volume of research, editing and checking that went into this graphic was immense. For it to come off as a success was very satisfying. It’s also a subject I’ve not seen anyone visualise before. It was awarded our first gold medal at Malofiej so will always bring back fond memories.
I’d also like to give special mention to another fantastic graphic from our Senior Infographic Artist Adolfo Arranz. This shows a different approach we sometimes take to our graphics that require a more human or natural touch. Not everything is data driven or involves technical vector drawing. This graphic on wine tasting was published last year to coincide with Hong kong’s annual wine fair. I didn’t have to do much with this one other than pose with the wine glass (that’s me in the graphic). This piece recently won a silver medal at SND’s Best of News Design competition in February.
What would you describe as being your favourite subject matter or a dream task?
I’ve always enjoyed detailed vector drawings in Illustrator such as the Space Shuttle and Titanic but I would love to do more data-driven sports graphics. I had a few chances while at SCMP but would like to do more in the future. There are huge data resources for sports out there and I’m hoping this is something I can explore further in my new role.
What would you describe as your main sources of inspiration creatively?
I always keep an eye on the work others are doing and attend talks and conferences. Sometimes you can see work or hear someone’s thoughts on a subject or a particular type of chart and it will spark ideas. I believe the wider the range of work you look at and read up on, the more your own work will improve.
I also like to sketch ideas and illustrations out in the early stage, often experimenting with new ways of displaying the data. Sometimes scribbling ideas out on paper or playing around with data on the screen can suddenly spark a new idea.
Sometimes I take a slightly unconventional approach to graphics with particularly dry data or subject matter. I would use design, use of headline and representations of familiar objects to draw the reader in without unnecessary artistic touches. Examples would be the retail sales and electricity graphics below and the traffic “arteries” already shown above.
So in cases like these, I would read into and explore the general subject I’m covering and not just the data itself, looking through a lot of visual reference in case there is anything which could be reinterpreted in graphical form.
From a regional perspective, you will have a unique insight into the practice of information graphics in the East, how you would characterise the approach, appetite for and consumption of information graphics/visualisation?
In Hong Kong I think readers are starting to understand and appreciate the importance of infographics more. You see a lot more featured in the SCMP and some of the local papers also use graphics of some description.
While newspapers in mainland China have been using information graphics for a long time and more recently they are becoming more popular online and on social media sites, I do believe there is a way to go in terms of overall execution and level of sophistication.
As for the rest of the region I have seen more illustrated type of graphics and less data visualization represented in the newspapers.
I believe one common problem Asian publications share is the lack of quality graphics or the correct display of graphics online. I’m not just talking about big showcase feature graphics but more the correct use of regular maps, charts, and smaller graphics. I find when they are used they are often disjointed and not thought about properly – like an afterthought taken from the print edition and often hard to find.
We have started to see change in the region as interest grows and more information graphics resources become available. Workshops and awards competitions being held by the likes of WAN-IFRA and SOPA will fuel this evolution and I look forward to watching the change unfold.
So, what’s next?
It was very difficult to say goodbye to such a great team and a city that I love but it was time for another change. I have recently taken on the role of Deputy Head of Graphics with Thomson Reuters, based with the team in Singapore, but also working closely with graphics desks in New York and London. In this role, I will focus on strengthening and growing Reuters’ global graphics service to media and financial clients. While I’ll be responsible for managing and directing graphics, I hope to still have the opportunity to work on some projects myself.
I’ve not been able to keep up with all threads but it seems there have been a number of interesting discussions over the past few days covering various aspects of the role of data visualisation and what we should expect from it. Thought I’d join the party late and throw in a few thoughts of my own as I was planning on writing something about these subjects anyway.
Storytelling in visualisation
Firstly, I would recommend you take a look at Moritz Stefaner’s post about the different functions of visualisations – those that tell (or more specifically show) stories and those that don’t. I particularly suggest you read the comment responses at the bottom of the post, I haven’t read them word-for-word but skimming through reveals some good discussions in there. Interestingly, you can see how often the nuances and semantics of the written word are at the root of many disagreements about perspectives when they are actually the same views just articulated differently.
I’m not going to get into deep discourse about what I believe a story is and how that relates to visualisation but I just wanted to share my view on the distinction I personally make between the two main types of visualisation function: exploratory and explanatory.
Exploratory visualisations create an interface into a dataset or subject matter. They do not propose a single narrative, nor actively draw out key insights or headlines. Instead, they facilitate the user exploring the data, letting them unearth their own insights: findings they consider relevant or interesting. It is a discovery process that could potentially lead to the finding of many different insights or maybe none at all, depending on the user’s context. Typically, we might consider exploratory visualisations to be interactive in format (and indeed often we are talking about a ‘tool’ of some description) but they are not limited to being interactive.
Explanatory visualisations are focused, editorially driven works that aim to surface key findings. Whilst they may contain several different dimensions of analysis this doesn’t mean they are exploratory in the sense of facilitating broad manipulation of the variables being displayed. It is in these types of visualisation that we would most associate the function of storytelling with data, often attributed to how they are structured.
In many cases it is hard to exactly identify or purely distinguish whether a project is exploratory or explanatory in nature. In some cases this is the failing of the design. It might neither draw out the key findings nor let you explore the subject’s data. In other cases the difficulty might be because the designer has created an effective combination of both.
The way I judge whether a visualisation is exploratory or explanatory is to ask myself ‘who does the work to reveal insights?’ (BTW, this is not a unique idea, I’ve heard of others who propose the same).
If I, as the reader, have to do the work (either visually or interactively) to find insights it is more exploratory than explanatory. By contrast, if the designer is the one who takes the responsibility to present the main insights, I see that as more explanatory than exploratory.
Let’s look at the example of Moritz’s work on the OECD Better Life Index. This is an exploratory tool to allow people to investigate the different quality of life indicators and measures for a range of countries across the world. This project is entirely user-driven Is there a single or group of important findings? No, there are many possible insights contained within this dataset. These only become insights once a pattern reveals something relevant to a user. With (I recall) 34 countries and 11 different quality of life indicators, there are many ways a user can slice, analyse, sort and explore this data.
Similarly, the next example from Kristina Szucs is exploratory in nature. It is a static project that provides insight into the combination of film review scores and movie profitability. Whilst the subject matter is filtered to show a specific view of the data (just the top 3 profitable movies, by genre by year) this is still exploratory. You learn how to read the chart using the legend at the top of the display then apply that lens across the piece to discover the films, genres, and shapes that most interest you. The design does not include a specific headline discovery or conclusion, it simply acts as an interface for you to find what strikes you as an insight. Once again, you as the reader do the work to find what is interesting to you.
By contrast, this piece from Simon Scarr is contains a main narrative, the striking reverse bar chart shows the fatal impact of the Iraq conflict. Accompanied by a few supplementary charts for additional context, this is a focused story principally about one dimension of the subject matter. The size of the chart, the colour scheme and the overall architecture are representative of the designer taking responsibility to highlight a story for you to consume.
Success in visualisation
The other issue that has been aired in recent days – but also discussed for a long time in general – is the question of where are the visualisation success stories? It is something we posed in the Data Stories podcast 16 and I know it will be discussed in podcast 21.
There is always a strong appetite to find examples of where visualisations have made a difference: opinion changes, behaviour changes, money savings, great discoveries and maybe even life saving.
It is natural for us all to seek a marquee and tangible example that indisputably provides popular evidence of the value of this subject. That’s perhaps why so many of us cling on to story of the John Snow ‘Cholera Map’. Regardless of the true nature of the impact of his dot plot map, we can use this to fit in with our agenda of wanting to show how visual portrayal is so important at influencing decisions and situations.
However, I’m increasingly aware of how ‘success’ of visualisation is rarely tangible nor grand in nature. And it doesn’t need to be. It is ultimately a form of communication. We don’t seem to put the same weight of expectation or desire for outcome measures on many written forms of communication, do we?
The main issue is what does success look like? Yes, that awful management phrase that invokes a chill down the spine. Well, naturally and boringly, we have to think first about intent and context: What are you trying to achieve and what are the expectations in terms of outcome?
Using the first of two horse-related idioms or phrases, it is all about horses for courses.
Building on the discussion above, let’s think about the distinction between success from exploratory visualisations and explanatory ones.
It would seem to me that the ability to attribute ‘success’ is more tangible with exploratory experiences, either as an exercise in visual analysis (where it might be you as the audience) or as an interactive experience for others.
Suppose a particular combination of variables, filters or selections reveals an insight. That is a discovery. If this discovery was achieved as a result of the visual portrayal and something that we may not have seen visible with statistics or data alone, then that success has to be attributed to visualisation.
Whether this changes the course of society is another matter. Someone might have unearthed the discovery that a vaccine can cure a certain disease or it might be that you spent more money last year in Nandos than you’d realised. The contexts are very different and similarly the impact is likely to be very different (unless Nandos was the cure…) but success has occurred: something interesting or relevant has been found in the data and the expectation was fulfilled. 1-0 to visualisation.
Now the chances are that the Nando’s situation is a good deal more likely to be happening day in day out than the Hollywood-esque discovery of the vaccine’s positive effect. However, the Nando’s example will be happening in very personal and private settings. We don’t necessarily have widespread access to these stories because they are ultimately quite minor and we don’t really have them on our radar because we want to aim higher. But they happen to all of us almost subconsciously everyday and they are important.
On the other side of the equation, the explanatory visualisations, what should we expect from them?
I’ve recently been thinking about the possible parallels between visualisation and marketing communication theory. In particular, the concept of AIDA, which describes the incremental events or effects of advertising.
I’m no expert in Marketing Communications – as will be seen clearly over the next few paragraphs – but having learnt about it a few years ago it has always struck me as potentially transferable (with a few tweaks), perhaps into a AIIA model of Attention, Informing, Influencing and Acting:
Some adverts are intended to simply achieve ‘Attention‘ or ‘Awareness‘, the first ‘A’ in AIDA. Attracting the attention of the customer and making them aware of the existence of that product/service is the limit of the ambition so achieving that is success. That’s why you might see, for example, so many god-awful annoying adverts that exist to stand out from crowd. They might not convince you to buy anything but that’s not the aim at this stage. Likewise with visualisation, some projects are probably achieving success (in their minds) if you have achieved such attention, somebody has simply looked or engaged with them. Quite a low ambition, of course, but this might be exemplified by the setting of visualisation as a prop or artefact, maybe in a magazine to focus your eyes on that article.
The ‘I’ part of the AIDA acronym is about raising ‘Interest‘ by demonstrating the benefits and advantages of a product or service. Maybe the equivalent in visualisation is about informing somebody, by providing a visualisation that addresses a gap in understanding about a subject.
‘D‘ is for ‘Desire‘, to convince the potential customer why they should need this product or service. Perhaps in a visualisation context the equivalent would be something more around influencing, going beyond simply informing and starting to have an impact on somebody’s belief system or choices they make. Maybe an example of this was the Drones Strike or US Gun Deaths projects? Neither of these works are likely to have the ambition of stopping drone strikes overnight. But the more people who digest them and who are affected by the human messages contained, it is not hard to imagine how a chain of events layers up with other information could ultimately lead to protest or opposition action to government policy? (Incidentally, not the attempt at evaluating success at the end of this post).
The final ‘A’ is for ‘Action’, to take the customer towards the act of purchasing. For visualisation this idea of action could be consistent with the ultimate success measure: you have sufficiently influenced somebody about a given subject matter that you have triggered an action, a decision, a change. Is it the impact of Al Gore’s rise in his cherry picker to follow the projected temperature forecasts? Or was that less about the visualisation and more about the drama of the delivery? Who knows, but this is the holy grail, the type of ‘success stories’ we’re all keen to find examples of.
This model is not a perfect fit, nor do I propose that these equivalent levels of success measurement are the best way of judging impact, but I feel it is worth the discussion about how other communication-related disciplines define tiers of success.
Perhaps we just need to wake up more to when they happen and notice them. This morning I have been looking on Kayak at flights prices for a forthcoming trip. I never even thought about the display that was influencing my decisions but I’ve revisited it just now. Decision-support devices like this are everywhere but we take them for granted. A visualisation success story is that I am now in position to buy this flight with confidence and know that I’ve got the best price for the date on which I’m leaving.
Finally, we need to acknowledge the things that have most impact. People.
People are irrational. They are inconsistent, moody, prejudiced, have tastes, have pressures, are influenced by political factors. In my training materials I include the image below, related to my second horse-related phrase for the day: You can lead a horse to water, buy you can’t make it drink.
You can only do your best to put forward a visualisation that most effectively serves the needs of the subject matter, the context and the audience you’re reaching. Beyond that, the ultimate success is out of your hands.
Regardless of the information Kayak provided me with I might have booked an expensive flight in the mid-afternoon just because it suited me better, maybe I am superstitious and like to leave at 12 noon precisely. An irrational choice given the information I had to hand. If I don’t follow the implied advice the data visualisation presents to me, it’s not that it failed it is just because people are and can be be odd but they are such an important part of the measurement of success.
I look forward to any discussions, comments in the boxes below…
This is a very specific request for anyone potentially interested in my data visualisation training courses in Australia, New Zealand and India.As I start to shape up my next set of training locations I wanted to actively seek input from folks located in these parts of the world.
Australia/New Zealand – I plan to make my first visit to this part of the world sometime around mid-November. At the moment Sydney is a definite intended location for a training course but I would like to seek suggestions for a second location (I expect to only be able to fit in 2 events) within the region. I have pockets of interest across a diverse range of cities so will base my choice on the main request patterns that emerge.
India – Having just returned from a private event in New Delhi/Gurgaon I would certainly like to return to India, especially whilst I have a visa! As is the case with Australia, such large countries mean I have a wide range of different suggestions already submitted but no stand out candidate as yet. I would probably expect to do 2 maybe 3 events on a single tour so I am open to travel wherever the demand is.
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!
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.
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!
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? 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.
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:
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. If you follow me on Twitter you will see many of these items shared as soon as I find them. 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…