Data Stories #35: Visual Storytelling w/ Alberto Cairo and Robert Kosara

datastories fun storytelling

Hi all,

Hot topic today! We invited Alberto Cairo and Robert Kosara to discuss the role of storytelling in visualization.  What is storytelling? Is all visualization storytelling? Should we always strive for telling a story? How does storytelling match with exploratory visualization? Should we aim more for worlds and macroscopes than stories as Moritz advocated a while back at Visualized? We went on a somewhat lengthy discussion on these topics and I think we all ended up agreeing on a lot of things and developed a much more nuanced view of storytelling. As you can see from the picture we had lots of fun (thanks Robert for taking the screenshot). Fantastic chat!

Note: Alberto had a lot more to say after the episode so he decided to publish a follow up post that clarifies some of the things he said on the show. But — spoiler alert — listen to the episode first! :)

P.S. Big, big thanks to Fabricio Tavares for taking care of the audio editing of this episode!


Data Stories #34: Data journalism w/ Simon Rogers

[Thanks to our audio editor Nathan Griffiths ( for taking care of this episode]

Hi everyone!

After a long while … we have a real British voice on the show again! In this episode we have the pleasure to host data journalist Simon Rogers.

Simon has been leading data journalism initiatives at The Guardian for many years and he recently moved to Twitter (with the official role of Data Editor) where he takes care of creating visual stories out of Twitter data.

In the show we talk about his past experience at The Guardian as well as the more recent and exciting developments at Twitter.



Data Stories #33: HelpMeViz w/ Jon Schwabish

jon-schwabishHi Everyone! We have Jon Schwabish on the show in this episode. Jon is an economist who specializes in data visualization for politics and economics. You can see some of his work in the blog he writes called Policyviz.

We invited him to talk about his recent new initiative called HelpMeViz, a web site where people can send requests to visualize some data of interest or redesign some particularly tricky charts. The web site quickly gained some momentum and already publishes quite a nice set of charts, suggested redesigns, and most of all very insightful discussions (it’s not just the usual I like this, I like that). There is a lot to learn there.

In the interview we talk about how HelpMeViz was born, how it works, what kind of entries they have been published so far and how it’s going to evolve. Give a look to HelpMeViz and submit your own charts and data there!


And here’s another piece of great news: For the first time, this episode was audio edited and annotated by a volunteer helper – woo! Fabricio Tavares was kind to help us. Thanks a million! The equation is simple: less audio editing work for Moritz means more episodes we can do in a year. Get in touch in case you would like help us, too!

Data Stories #32: High Density Infographics and Data Drawing w/ Giorgia Lupi


Hi folks,

We have Giorgia Lupi from Accurat on the show with us this time in our first real face-to-face episode ever (yes Moritz and Enrico in the same room!)

Giorgia’s work, and more in general work from her agency, has been super popular lately. You might have seen, for instance, their work on visualizing nobel prizes or visualizing painters’ lives.

Giorgia kindly hosted us in the Accurat’s studio in New York where we had a nice chat on hand-crafted visualization, high-density designs, design studios, and much much more.

Here is us arguing even before starting the recording :)



Enjoy the show!


Data Stories #31 — Review, preview w/ Robert Kosara and Andy Kirk

Happy 2014!

Here we go folks. Another year has passed. We review what was big and major trends in 2013 and what to expect in 2014.

We have two old DS friends on the show to help us with the review: Andy “Visualisingdata” Kirk and Robert “Eagereyes” Kosara.

Important announcement: in 2014 we want to hear more from you! Please feel free to contact us to ask questions, we will address them in our upcoming podcasts. You can also suggest new guests or topics you would like us to cover. You can reach us through: Twitter (@datastories) | Facebook | Email: We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Take care.


Data Stories #30: The Information Flaneur w/ Marian Dörk

Hi there,

We have Marian Dörk on the show today to talk about the “Information Flaneur”: an approach to data visualization centered on navigating, exploring, browsing and observing the data with curiosity to learn about what’s there to see and to be surprised by new thoughts and discoveries.

Marian is Research Professor at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam near Berlin where he works on “exploring novel uses of interactive visualizations to support a wide range of information practices”.

We talk about many interesting new directions for visualization like the visualizing data starting from a few seed points, whether we always need an overview first in visualization and tips on how to design visualization for “information flaneurs”.

Enjoy the show!


Data Stories #29: Treemaps w/ Ben Shneiderman

Hi Everyone,

We have a super guest this time on the show! Ben Shneiderman joins us to talk about his new treemap art project (beautiful treemap prints you can hang on the wall), treemaps and their history, and information visualization in general. Needless to say, we had a wonderful time chatting with him: lots of history and very inspiring thoughts (tip: we should look at vis 50-100 years from now!)

Take care.



Data Stories #28: IEEE VIS’13 Highlights w/ Robert Kosara

Hi Folks!

We did it again: we have a special episode directly from IEEE VIS’13 (the premier academic conference on visualization). Enrico caught Robert Kosara and recorded almost one hour of highlights from the conference. And there is a final message for Moritz too! Don’t miss it.

Take care.

Links (some of the papers mentioned):

Data Stories #27: Big Data Skepticism w/ Kate Crawford

Here we go with another great episode. This time more on the data side. We have Kate Crawford (Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research) on the show talking about the other face of big data. That is, after all the excitement, hype, and buzz, she is the one who is asking the tough questions: Is more data always better? Is there any objective truth in it? Is big data really making us smarter? Etc.

Papers and articles from Kate

Some of Kate’s Talks


Enjoy it, there’s lots of food for thoughts here!

Data Stories #26: Visualization Beyond the Desktop w/ Petra Isenberg

Hi Folks!

We are back after a relaxing summer with a brand new episode! We have Petra Isenberg, from the Aviz team at INRIA (we had other guests from the same lab in the past) as guest talking about visualization on non-standard devices and environments. Yes, stuff like display walls, surfaces, tabletops, and people collaborating around them. It feels like the future is here and there’s a ton of potentially interesting applications for visualization.

Petra gives us  hints on what works what does not work, what research says, what has been tried already and what needs to be explored, etc. She also gives practical recommendations at the end on how to start doing visualization on these devices. That’s really cool stuff!

Take care,
Enrico & Mo.


  • 00:00 Back from summer break
  • 02:41 Our guest today: Petra Isenberg
  • 05:59 Moving beyond the desktop
  • 11:55 New challenges in collaborative settings
  • 22:25 Interactions with very large screens
  • 38:14 Practical use and how to get started
  • 48:53 More resources

Links and papers:

Resource list from Petra

Research links:

Technology links:

Software frameworks/libraries for developing vis on surfaces:

  • Most Pixels Ever (Processing for very large wall displays – I forgot to mention this one during the podcast)
  • kivy (Python framework for developing multi-touch applications)
  • libavg (maintained by Ulrich von Zadow who has worked on several visualization + interactive surface installations)
  • ZVTM (Java toolkit for developing ZUIs, includes possibilities to run visualizations on a cluster)
  • Microsoft Surface SDK
  • (for mobile check out iOS and Android SDKs)