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Andy Kirk | Visualising Data

The Visualising Data Newsletter - Issue #2, March 2024

Published about 2 months ago • 11 min read

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 well as 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.

Having discovered that many people have an email platform that is incompatible with content being delivered to them in newsletter form. Therefore, earlier this month I decided to start to publish an archive of the web versions of the emailed newsletters, to accommodate those people interested in the content but impeded technically from receiving it in email form.

To preserve the primacy of the emailed newsletter, and to ensure subscribers remain the priority recipients, links to the web versions of each issue will be published on my website's 'Newsletter' page two weeks after each issue is distributed first via email. I will then compile an archive of the ongoing collection of web versions on that page.

I thank you, once again, for your interest and support in subscribing. I'm delighted to note there are already over 1000 confirmed subscribers. Once my crazy workload eases towards the end of April I will redouble my efforts to make this the an essential resource for anyone and everyone working in dataviz.

See you same time, same place, in April.

Andy


Visuals

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

1. History of Philosophy: Summarised and Visualised | Deniz Cem Önduygu

This is an incredible piece of work, Deniz's "ever-growing summary of the history of Western philosophy showing the positive/negative connections between some of the key ideas/arguments/statements of the philosophers"

2. Inside the miracle of modern chip manufacturing | FT

Another top visual explainer piece from the FT's visual stories and investigations team, explaining the "miracle of modern chip manufacturing" and why the race for performance and profits is seeing engineers rethinking the architecture of chips.

3. Artisan Politics | Washington Post

"Like many people trapped in endless meetings, U.S. presidents tend to doodle...." and this piece attempts to classify and critique their artistic styles.

4. The Menu Trends That Define Dining Right Now | New York Times

"We gathered 121 menus from restaurants all over the country. Together, they offer a glimpse into the tastes and values of today."

5. How much snow will give kids a snow day across the US? | CNN, Amy O'Kruk

Featuring some splendid snowy-colours maps and the best spade-viz you'll ever see

6. How Singapore Builds Communities in the Sky | Straits Times

"From the humble slab block to towers 50 storeys tall, architects share how HDB block designs have evolved over the years."

7. Red Sea attacks | Reuters Graphics

"How Houthi militants in Yemen are attacking ships in one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes"

8. Build a British Voter | @_rospearce on Twitter

"Explore how different groups are likely to vote in the next British election (spoiler: there's been a huge shift to Labour)"

9. Manzanar UpClose In-Depth | Stamen

"Stamen worked with Densho in 2023 to create Manzanar CloseUp, a map of the Manzanar concentration camp in California where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during WWII."

10. Wind Farms are Overstating Their Output | Bloomberg Visual Data team

"Some of Europe’s largest energy companies are overstating how much wind power they’ll produce — and are getting paid when they cut back"

11. We use 30 year averages to show climatology | @neilRkaye on Twitter

"During the 20th century the UK climatology (average weather conditions) followed a path around a confined box. With global warming and climate change they have escaped out the box. This dataviz shows UK rainfall and temperature."

12. Analysis of the different electricity sources in 2023 | Ember

"Want to learn about the sources powering the EU electricity system? We included a tool in our

Ember 'European Electricity Review 2024' to do just that! ⚡️"

13. Investors Are Almost Always Wrong About the Fed | Wall Street Journal

Excellent chart showing forecasts of market expectations rarely match reality

14. Lighthouses of Portugal | @StatsOfPortugal on Twitter

Not sure what else to say. How about 'here's a very elegant visual mapping all the lighthouses of Portugal'. That'll do.

15. What's going on in this graph? | New York Times

"Teach About Climate Change With 30 Graphs From The New York Times: A new collection to explore our planet’s warming oceans, intensifying storms and rising air temperatures, as well as its greenhouse gas emissions and climate solutions."

16. 7 infographics to visualise social balance data and to raise awareness | Martina Zunica on Behance

"Case di Quartiere manage 7 social spaces (or Houses) at the moment and they collected data about them for months - how many people run the houses, the characteristics of the houses, the organisers and types of activities, the target group, and the budget. I created one infographic per each House, to celebrate and to show all the work they have done in less than one year, visually narrating the values of public places as hubs of innovation in the city."

17. Kazakhstan: Methane mega-leak went on for months | BBC

"One of the worst methane leaks ever recorded. Using satellite data, scientists estimate 127,000 tonnes of methane escaped from an exploratory well in Kazakhstan. We analysed satellite images to understand exactly what happened, from the blowout to its fix."

18. Running my first marathon in Hong Kong | KK Rebecca Lai

"I ran my first marathon on Jan. 21, 2024 in Hong Kong, in 3 hours 50 minutes." and here's the visuals and data to go with that run and all the preparation that preceded it

19. Plot The Ball | Ben Wylie

Ben produces some excellent analysis and visuals in his 'My Week In Sport(s)' newsletter.

20. How Japan's Nikkei225 Got Its Mojo Back | @YasufumiSaito on Twitter

"The Nikkei225 broke the record high today, marking uncharted territory for Japanese stock market. We explain how and why it's happening now with data and charts"

21. Cloudy or clear? | Washington Post

"Come rain or shine, the eclipse is on its way. Will you have fair skies?" featuring some typically exquisite maps by Lauren Tierney.

22. Trench warfare: Ukraine and Russia dig in as fighting grinds into third year | SCMP

"Our latest piece explaining the trench warfare, with Ukraine war entering in its third year" featuring some incredible illustrations by Victor Sanjinez and Marcelo Duhalde.

23. The Sigma 2024 Shortlist | Sigma Awards

"52 data journalism projects from 22 countries made it to the last round of the competition." - this is the collection of work


Learning

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

24. Behind the visuals | South China Morning Post, by Kaliz Lee and Davies Christian Surya

"The South China Morning Post’s award-winning graphics team is dedicated to producing visual stories with impact about China, Hong Kong and the world. Some projects can take months from idea to finish. Here’s a look at how the SCMP’s small team of designers, illustrators and developers works to bring infographics projects to life."

25. Scientific American | TikTok, by Jen Christiansen

"Joy Division’s striking Unknown Pleasures album cover holds a scientific mystery. The image’s true origin was lost until..." enter Jen Christiansen

26. How we used gigabytes of shipping data to show risks to endangered whales | NPR, Chiara Eisner

Chiara Eisner, an investigative reporter for NPR, explains the process behind their investigation published into the U.S. government's and industry's lack of protections for Rice’s whales, one of the rarest marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico.

27. Refactoring a dataviz website to create an extensible application | Stamen

"We’re going to dive into some of the software code that runs the Superdiversity site, and explain how we improved on our original architecture to make the code more flexible and easier to maintain going forward."

28. Updates to the R Graphics Engine: One Person’s Chart Junk is Another’s Chart Treasure | Paul Murrell

"The R graphics engine has gained support for gradient fills, pattern fills, clipping paths, masks, compositing operators, and stroked and filled paths."

29. "This is a research on school yards" | Honorata Grzesikowska on LinkedIn

Really interesting research "Gender-segregated graphs that underscore substantial disparities in the#spatial behavior of boys and girls, based on the physical design of the space."

30. Evaluating the Recommendations of LLMs to Teach a Visualization Technique using Bloom’s Taxonomy | Alark Joshi et al

Intriguing new paper: "Large Language Models (LLMs) have demonstrated a huge impact on education and literacy in recent years. We evaluated the recommendations provided by two popular LLMs (OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard) to educate novices on the topic of Parallel Coordinate Plots (PCPs) using Bloom’s taxonomy."

31. Beyond Vision Impairments: Redefining the Scope of Accessible Data Representations | Brianna Wimer et al

And yet another timely, valuable study coming round to being published: "Interested in what accessible data visualization research *actually* means for non-vision disabilities? Our paper for 'IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics' reveals how we can broaden data access for various disabilities"

32. How Accessibility Standards Can Empower Better Chart Visual Design | Kent Eisenhuth for Smashing Magazine

"For the past three years, Kent’s working group at Google has explored techniques for creating useful and accessible visualizations that extend well beyond compliance."

33. Ways to visualize statistical significance | Stephanie Evergreen

"If you’ve passed the criteria for communicating statistical significance, here are four ideas for ways to indicate it in your data visualizations."

34. 17 questions with Giorgia Lupi | FastCompany

"Pentagram partner Giorgia Lupi on pie charts, embracing the unknown, and why data needs a story"

35. What happened to the seven bridges in Königsberg? | Anna Thieme for Datawrapper

"In 1735, mathematician Leonard Euler proved it was impossible to walk all 7 bridges in Königsberg exactly once, and in doing so created the new field of graph theory. But a lot of history has happened since then. Could Euler make the same discovery today?"

36. What is a prototype? | Frank Elavsky

"In this short reflection, I explore a rather unorthodox answer to "what is a prototype?" that involves rhetoric, reflexivity, and a touch of theology."

37. Just how carefully did you look at the data? | Steve Wexler on LinkedIn

"I’m a big fan of Makeover Monday, but I’m concerned that people don’t bother to check the quality of the data, thinking that “somebody else already did that.”

38. Rams | OhYouPrettyThings

A documentary film by Gary Hustwit about Dieter Rams (available for a small fee)

39. What to consider when creating small multiple line charts | Lisa Muth for Datawrapper

"When should you use line charts and when small multiple line charts?"


News

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

40. Effect+Affect | Gabby Merite and Eli Holder

Gabby and Eli launched a weekly(ish) newsletter in February called Effect+Affect: "We think visual communication research is so cool. And it's important to our own design work. But academic papers are Zzz, intimidating, and frankly sometimes hard to read. So we're attempting to translate our favorites into something a bit more approachable."

41. A New FlowingData Book, Second Edition | Nathan Yau

Wonderful news! Nathan has created a second edition of his book 'Visualize This', which is "loosely based on the first, but this is a brand new book: The examples are new, the tools are refreshed, and I rewrote almost every word". You can pre-order now.

42. Launching DataViz Screenshot Critique GPT | @AdamMico1 on Twitter

"A decade in #DataViz, now sharing my dream project. Innovation + fun = transformative storytelling." - I've not had chance to try this out yet but I was impressed with some of the results credible people were posting.

43. New portfolio | @Rsimmon on Bluesky

"Soft launching my new portfolio: robertsimmon.com. Featuring favorites old & new."

Hire this guy.


Sundries

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

44. The NIST stone wall | Presentcorrect on Bluesky

"The NIST stone wall is over 2000 samples of different stone types, designed to measure how they react to weathering over time."

45. Evolution of the Scrollbar | Sébastien Matos

From the Xerox Star (1981)...

46. The text file that runs the internet | David Pierce for The Verge

"For decades, robots.txt governed the behavior of web crawlers. But as unscrupulous AI companies seek out more and more data, the basic social contract of the web is falling apart."

47. A.I. Is Coming for the Past, Too | New York Times

Guest Essay by Jacob N. Shapiro and Chris Mattmann - "While we have reason to believe the future may be safe, we worry that the past is not."

48. Egos. 100 is just too tempting once you get past 90. | @hjluks on Twitter

This has been doing the rounds for years but saw it again and liked it all over again.

49. Who am I? | @AkiyoshiKitaoka on Twitter

An excellent optical illusion (and the poster has many more on their feed)

50. The 10 Happiest Countries in 2023 | @TheEditorDiary on Twitter

"This chart shows the top ten happiest countries in the world according to 2023 World Happiness Report". Visualisers around were less happy.


Latest from me...

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

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

There are still places available on my next data visualisation training course, a Masterclass event taking place in London over 23-24 April.

Explore Explain Season 5 launching soon!

The new season is nearly upon us, with the first episode due out soon. This features a great conversation with two of my favourite people in dataviz, Rebecca Conroy and Duncan Swain from Beyond Words. By the time of next issue of this newsletter, I will have also recorded episode 2, featuring Jess Carr, and episode 3, with Natalie and Hermann from TWO-N. Visit the 'Podcast' page on my website to learn how to subscribe to the audio podcast, as well as listen to previous episodes, as well as details of the Youtube channel to watch all the enhanced video episodes.

The busiest month(s)...

I'm not usually one to shout about being overly busy but I've never experienced 3 months, and especially March, quite like what 2024 has thrown at me. Aside from a packed schedule of normal work - teaching, talks, client work - I've also been trying to extend my waking hours to work on the 3rd edition of my book. Though it remains the same book in name, and chapter structure, the contents have been largely rewritten and supplemented with around 150-200 new figures created or obtained. I know I will be happy with it once its done but, with 3 days left before my submission deadline, I cannot wait to briefly see the back of it and escape from my writing dungeon.


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 visualisingdata.com 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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