Andy Kirk | Visualising Data

The Visualising Data Newsletter - Issue #1, February 2024

Published 2 months ago • 11 min read

Welcome to the first issue of the 'Visualising Data Newsletter' chronicling the most insightful and delightful data viz content every month, straight to your inbox.

In each monthly issue I will collect, curate, then send you a selection of links to some of the best, most interesting, most zeitgeist-y, or thought-provoking data visualisation-related content I've encountered during the previous month. This first piece is going out in February and so relates to new content I saw published in January and a few older things I might have come across that month too. I will also tag onto the end some of my own recent postings or relevant announcements.

To minimise the weight of my task in producing each issue and your task, as reader, in browsing them, I've imposed an arbitrary limit of 50 items, which will help act as quality filter. To minimise the weight of the emails themselves I'm not including imagery against all items listed, most of which will be presented as text descriptions with links. I will image-preview 10 pieces: four featured items chosen under Visuals, three under Learning, two under News, and one under Sundries.

Each item included is presented with the piece's title, the platform or publisher, and then a description, often taken from the introduction text published by each author. The links are accessed via the 'Go' buttons or, just in case some peoples' email systems block buttons, also behind the platform/publisher label. Note that some links will direct you towards sites that are behind paywalls for which some readers may not have direct access.

I expect it will take a few monthly rounds for me to settle into this new curating rhythm and alternative method of publishing. I will need to judge the right breadth and profile of content to include and I'm sure I'll nudge the styling of the posts to ensure they look the best they can across all email and web platforms.

I hope you will find it to be a useful monthly resource and I thank you, once again, for your interest and support in subscribing. There are a lot of newsletters these days competing for your attention, I really appreciate you choosing to give this yours.

See you same time, same place, in March.

Andy K


The freshest data visualisation (or related) design pieces and collections.

1. How AI is decoding the animal kingdom | FT

"Scientists are eavesdropping on animal conversations. Will generative AI enable us to talk back?" This masterful visual and audio story from Sam Joiner's visual stories and investigations team explores the ultrasonic grumbles and infrasonic squeaks imperceptible to humans.

2. The Bitcoin ETF Saga | Axios

"How bitcoin believers conceived the cryptocurrency to make it as easy as possible for traditional investors to buy in — and how Bitcoiners refused to give up when regulators pushed back."

3. 2023 confirmed as world's hottest year on record | BBC

2023 has just been confirmed as the warmest year on record, with the second half of the year saw record numbers of new daily highs. Erwan Rivault, Dataviz designer and satellite image expert @ BBC News used a Joy Division plot to visualise daily temperature anomalies since 1940 to show how different 2023 has been.

4. Where Groundwater Levels Are Falling, and Rising, Worldwide | New York Times

"A new study used data from 170,000 groundwater monitoring wells worldwide and found widespread depletion, but also interesting case studies where levels are slowing or recovering."

5. Favourite maps of 2023 | Cartoblography

Ken Field's collection - always a vital read - listing some of this favourite maps from 2023.

6. Atlas of Intangibles | Priti Pandurangan

A charming data experience designed to "highlight the rich, interconnected web of sensory information that lies beneath our everyday encounters". Showcasing sensory data collected by Priti around the city of London using data walks.

7. Hey you guys | Coffeetableviz

Adam Green's viz explores the subsequent acting adventures of the child stars of the 1985 cult classic “The Goonies”.

8. Since When Does Vogue Hate Text? | Jess Carr

The 2023 Pudding Cup joint winner, this superb curiosity-driven investigation "to unearth the lost art of textual exuberance" looks at where all the "flashy text in mismatched type, size, weight, and colour" has gone from the covers of Vogue magazine.

9. Republican presidential nomination and delegates, explained | CNN

Amy O'Kruk, Data and Graphics Editor for CNN Digital, visualises how the Republican presidential nomination works, excellently explaining what delegates are and how (and when!) they help candidates win the nomination.

10. Animating Earth’s Aerosols |

An exquisite animation by Rich Spencer and Charlie Lott using NASA data to show "how dust and other aerosols interact with Earth's dynamic atmosphere"

11. Road directedness across 48 cities | @milan_janosov on Twitter

"This graph shows the directedness of 48 global cities based on its road network" inspired, as Milan explains, by one of his all-time favorite visualizations originally by Geoff Boeing.

12. Data + Movies Viz Gallery | Tableau

"Explore movie vizzes from around the world: See interactive data visualization created using an expansive cinematic dataset powered by IMDb."

13. Our favorite Science conceptual illustrations of 2023 | Science

"This past year, much like society, the design team was focused on #AI, art directing several visuals capturing this ever-changing landscape. Here is a look at those illustrations, along with others that the team is particularly proud of from 2023."

14. The Battle for Low Orbit Satellite Supremacy [Translated] | CommonWealth Magazine

"We visualize 9000+ satellites in space and analyze Taiwan's current situation in this satellite race." [Published in Chinese Traditional]

15. "Eggs" make history as top-ranked Google search on cost in 2023 | Axios

"In a year of high prices across the board, eggs stand out as the item most searched by Americans asking, “Why is ___ so expensive?”

16. China’s Severed Air Links Drain $130 Billion From Global Tourism | Bloomberg

"It's been a year since China reopened its border, but Chinese travellers are not flying overseas like before. By checking 18 million scheduled flights for 4Q in 2019 and 2023, we identified and visualized the absence of China in the sky."

17. Down Underground: London Underground Depth Diagrams | Daniel Silva

"Millions of people descend into the oldest metro service in the world, travelling from A to B thanks to wonders of engineering and design. Everyone knows they are going underground, but just how deep? These simple diagrams deliver just that – all Underground services illustrating the height of all stations and platforms, below and above ground."

18. A Book Quilt | Luisa Vasquez

"This quilt was created using the data from all the books I read in 2023. It measures roughly 11 x 16 inches and was assembled on my sewing machine and quilted by hand."

19. How Houthi Attacks Have Upended Global Shipping | New York Times

Exceptional mapping showing how "Hundreds of ships are avoiding the Suez Canal and sailing an extra 4,000 miles around Africa, burning fuel, inflating costs and adding 10 days of travel or more in each direction."

20. What exactly a wind turbine does [Translated] | Zeit Online

"How many revolutions does it take to charge an electric car with green electricity or to power a household? Test it yourself with our interactive wind turbine." [Published in German]

21. Bird populations are declining. Some are in your neighbourhood. | Washington Post

Beautiful illustrations and maps from Harry Stevens explore this worrying trend.

22. Tracking Freezing Temperatures in the U.S. | New York Times

More stunning maps from the NYT graphics team showing "freezing temperatures are forecast across many areas of the contiguous United States over the next week, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."


Relevant articles, interviews, or videos to help further your development in data viz.

23. Are connected scatterplots so bad? | Datawrapper Blog

Excellent article from Luc Guillemot who spent time reflecting on criticisms he'd seen and received about connected scatterplots and decided to figure out what he still liked about them...

24. Overview First, Details on Demand: Mapping Extreme Temperatures with Contours | Rob Simmon on Medium

After a January week of particularly extreme cold in the U.S., Rob reflects on the many weather maps appearing in the news and on social media, of mixed quality, and looks at the challenges of mapping extremes. "How do you show a wider than normal range of temperatures, but still allow a viewer to distinguish between small differences?"

25. Visualizing Everest Expeditions, An End-To-End Data Visualization Project | Towards Data Science

Karla Hernández steps through the design process behind her excellent data visualisation about Mount Everest expeditions.

26. Amanda Cox Keynote | OpenVis Conf

A classic from the archives, which floated back on to my radar recently: Amanda Cox's keynote address at the 2017 OpenVis Conf about visualising uncertainty. (Check out all the other great videos while you're there)

27. Analysis and Anarchy (Or: there’s gold in them thar charts!) | Chartography

In this issue of RJ Andrews' newsletter, he reflects on recognising that he does not cultivate any kind of analytic practice concerning his inspiration.

28. A Brief and Inspiring History of Data Visualization in Korea | Nightingale

Really interesting piece by Jiwon Kim

29. 9 ways to transform text and images into interactive visualizations | Flourish

Simona Tselova describes how "from cards and quizzes to photo sliders and timelines" you can use Flourish to turn any qualitative data into "stunning pieces of content".

30. AI Spreadsheet and Scraping Tools | Journalist's Toolbox

Large collection of resources to assist with spreadsheeting and data scraping.

31. Divisive Dataviz: How Political Data Journalism Divides Our Democracy | Nightingale

Compelling article by Eli Holder "Democracy in the United States is under threat. Are we, humble data visualization designers, to blame for this? Not exactly… But we’re not as innocent as you might think."

32. Data visualization: a subjective lens on reality | Clever Franke on Medium

Elena Etter analyses the elements that influence the production and consumption of data visualisation focusing on the subjectivity which underpins so much of our decision making.

33. How to read this chart | Washington Post

Philip Bump's excellent newsletter dissects the chart-making process behind one of the Post's election insights visualisations.

34. Information Design Unbound: The process | Sheila Pontis

"Writing a book is not always an easy journey – at least this has been my experience with all my books. Here are some of the learnings from my last book...", the excellent 'Information Design Unbound' co-authored with Michael Babwahsingh.

35. A conversation with a Data Visualizer Who’s Also a Painter | Stamen

Transcript from an interview between Eric Rodenbeck and Stamen colleague Alex Parlato.

36. Behind the scenes: How Brian Romer approaches data visualizations | Storybench

Storybench speaks with Brian Romer, now a freelancer but who previously worked on data and design projects at Reuters, about exploring how design works with AI, making infographics and visualising money laundering, mass shootings and global cyber attacks.

37. Don’t Let Anxiety Get in the Way of Your Creative Process | Nightingale

Fernando Hannaka discusses how "persistence is fundamental to achieving desired results" when facing creative challenges.

38. PhotoViz, Nicholas Felton | Vimeo

From April 2016, a recorded guest lecture from Nicholas Felton about his work on the book 'PhotoViz', exploring the intersection of photography and data visualisation "a place where optical techniques reveal complex phenomena and data viz starts to resemble a photographic process".


Latest developments, announcements, or announcements affecting the data viz world.

39. The New York Times now has a web Flash player | EagerEyes

Robert Kosara shares news that the New York Times has added a web-based Flash player to their archive website that can run some of their wonderful old pieces that were becoming obsolete.

40. From Binoculars to Binomials: Birding and Data Viz, Together at Last | Jer Thorp on Medium

Jer outlines the interesting overlap between nature, data and creativity as the basis of his teaching of a new online class - Binoculars to Binomials - starting at the end of this month but surely to be held again in the future.

41. Join Our 2024 Cohort | The Pudding

The Pudding announce news of their 2024 Cohort, which offers a 10-week paid summer fellowship for aspiring visual storytellers.

42. Introducing Data Navigator | Frank Elavsky

"I'm happy to announce my latest project, Data Navigator! Making interactive data visualizations work with assistive technologies that navigate content is complex and difficult work. Data Navigator aims to make this easier."

43. Mappemondes | Amazon

Newly discovered book "Mappemondes: Un voyage dans le temps pour raconter le monde contemporain" authored by LeMonde graphic journalists Xemartin Laborde, Delphine Papin, and Francesca Fattori (published Nov 2023).


Additional references to pieces covering broader data, tech, or design matters.

44. Fake Views – The Contrast Between Renderings and Reality | Architectural Uprising

"A shining sun, playful children, overwhelming greenery and new neighborhoods with a richer wildlife than a Zoo. We have all seen them, the vision images that promise an idyll but result in a visual nightmare."

45. Where have all the websites gone? | From Jason

Exploring an answer to that question, Jason covers the notion that "we miss curation" which is certainly something I'm trying to accomplish with this newsletter.

46. The Internet Is About to Get Weird Again | Rolling Stone

Anil Dash writes how "The new year offers many of the promises of an online moment we haven’t seen in a quarter-century"

47. Much of what made social media feel special to journalists is gone. What now? | Source

As many of us are (perhaps overly-nostalgically) considering, this piece reflects on "the [social media] spaces we’ve lost, why we miss them, and what we can do to take power back from platforms".

48. Is Every Picture Worth 1000 Words? | iA

"The phrase a picture is worth 1,000 words is a well-worn cliche in visual storytelling. Is it true? Where does it come from? And why do we still use words? A critique of the pure stock image."

49. Helvetica is more than a font, it’s a state of mind | Stamen

"At Stamen we still love it, even if for some of us it’s so post-ironic ironic that our love of Helvetica becomes sincere again. It has been our brand for over two decades, and our passion for Helvetica shows no sign of waning."

50. Failed Product Designs: A Laptop with Seven Screens | Core77

"A British company called Expanscape developed this monstrosity, known as the Aurora 7"

Latest from me...

Some recent posts and announcements about my professional services and activities.

Explore Explain S4 E9: Chloe Whiteaker & Marie Patino

I was delighted to welcome Chloe Whiteaker, Data Visualization Team Leader, and Marie Patino, Graphics Reporter, from Bloomberg News in New York to the Season 4 final episode of Explore Explain. We explored the story behind their unique data visualisation project analysing the staggering wealth of a pop-music phenomenon: “Taylor Swift Vaults Into Billionaire Ranks with Blockbuster Eras Tour“.

New public training course: ‘Masterclass in Data Visualisation’ (London, April 23-24)

After my January virtual course and February classroom training sold out, I decided to keep the scheduling momentum going and have added an extra event in London over 23-24 April.

Posting, Following, and Social Media Intentions (Updated for 2024)

Picking up on the theme raised in one of the pieces above, I’ve decided to compile an updated profile of where you will find me across the web’s places and platforms and the nature and extent to which I will be active with each.

New book cover design for my upcoming 3rd edition

Happy to share the new design, created by my book publishers, Sage, that will adorn the front cover of the 3rd edition of my book coming out later this year. Based on the three main colours of my 'corporate' visual identity (is it still corporate if its for a freelancer?), it blends together the three main chapters to capture the intertwined nature and the imperfect iterating cycle of the data visualisation design process.

Thanks for reading!

I’m ANDY KIRK, an independent data visualisation expert based in the UK. My vision is to deliver data viz excellence, everywhere. I offer data visualisation professional services to clients worldwide in my capacity as a design consultant, a prolific and experienced trainer, as an adjunct lecturer on the MSc Business Analytics programme at UCL, as a three-times published author, as a researcher, and sought-after speaker. I'm editor of and host of the Explore Explain video and podcast series. If you have a desire to elevate your data viz capabilities, whether at the start of your journey or further along, get in touch.

Newsletter compiled and published by Andy Kirk on behalf of Visualising Data Ltd, 41 Talbot Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS8 1AG
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Subscribe to the 'Visualising Data Newsletter' to elevate your understanding with my monthly chronicle of the most insightful and delightful data viz content.

Read more from Andy Kirk | Visualising Data

Welcome to the 2nd issue of the 'Visualising Data Newsletter' chronicling the most insightful and delightful data viz content every month, straight to your inbox. In each monthly issue I collect, curate, then send you a selection of links to 50 of the best, most interesting, most zeitgeist-y, or thought-provoking data visualisation-related content I've encountered during the previous month. This collection is published in March 2024 relating to new content I saw published during February as...

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