Data Stories #56: Amanda Cox on Working With R, NYT Projects, Favorite Data


I’d give two of my left fingers for this data” – Amanda Cox on the show :)

We have the great Amanda Cox from NYT on the show this time!

Amanda is a graphic editor at NYT and she is behind many of the amazing data graphics New York Times produced in recent years.

In the show we talk about her background in statistics and how she ended up at the Times. How she uses R software to collect, analyze and visualize data, and her ideas on other tools. We also talk about how data graphics are produced at NYT, with lots of funny stories.

Don’t miss the parts about the “what, where, when” of data and the “net joy” concept.

Lots a data wisdom in this show!

This episode is sponsored by Tableau Software,  helping people connect to any kind of data, and visualize it on the fly – You can download a free trial at – check the new Tableau 9!


Data Stories #55: Disinformation Visualization w/ Mushon Zer-Aviv

Hi everyone!

We have designer and activist Mushon Zer-Aviv on the show today. Mushon is an NYU ITP graduate and instructor at Shenkar University, Israel.

mushon_bw-pic_2015He wrote the very interesting Disinformation Visualization piece for Tactical Tech’s Visualizing Information for Advocacy and we decided to invite him to discuss the million different facets of disinformation through visualization.

Is data and data visualization bringing some truth or it should always be considered an argument? Is there a way we can mitigate or even prevent disinformation? What strategies can designers use to make their opinion more apparent?

These are some of the questions we discuss on the show.

And don’t miss the part on “data obfuscation”, that is, how to use disinformation to increase our privacy!

Enjoy this thought-provoking show!

This episode is sponsored by Tableau Software,  helping people connect to any kind of data, and visualize it on the fly – You can download a free trial at – check the new Tableau 9!


Data Stories #54 Designing Exploratory Data Visualization Tools w/ Miriah Meyer

[This episode of Data Stories is sponsored by Tableau. You can download a free trial at – check the new Tableau 9!]

Hi all

We have Miriah Meyer with us in this episode to talk about how to build interactive data visualization tools for scientists and researchers. Miriah is Assistant Professor at University of Utah and she one of the leading experts on the process of designing data visualizations for scientific discovery.

To know more about her you can take a look at her talk at TEDxWaterloo and her projects page, where she has numerous links to applications she developed in biology and other domains (see for instance MizBee and Pathline).

On the show we talk about her work on analyzing and understanding the design process: required steps, major pitfalls and tips on how to collaborate with domain scientists.

We also talk about her recent fascinating ethnographic work on “Reflections on How Designers Design With Data” and her ongoing work on building visualization tools for poetry!

Enjoy the show!


Data Stories tv#00 — The NYT 3D Yield Curve Chart w/ Gregor Aisch

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 4.40.15 PM

Hi Folks, great news … we are experimenting with a new format for Data Stories that includes … that includes … that includes … guess whaaaaaat? Video!

After having heard many many times that it’s hard to imagine how a visualization looks like when we are talking about it, we have decided to experiment with a new format.

This is for now just a pilot to see how you guys react, so we would love to hear your feedback about how you like it and how we can improve.

To be clear: we are not planning to substitute our regular podcast with this, we are trying to build a parallel channel.

Here’s the video!

In this pilot episode the great Gregor Aisch from the New York Times agreed to describe in detail how the amazing 3D Yield Curve Chart has been realized.

As many of you may know, 3D visualization has not a very good reputation among data visualization experts, yet Gregor and Amanda managed to create a super interesting and useful 3D chart.

Gregor shows us where the idea originated from, all the crazy details about how to create a 3D chart that people can actually read, and how to calculate optimal views and a good narrative out of it.

Enjoy the new TV show! We are looking forward to hearing from you.

P.S. A big big thank to Gregor for accepting to shoot this video with these two totally unexperienced video editors! :) Thanks Gregor, that was awesome!

Data Stories #53 Data Safaris w/ Benedikt Groß

[This episode of Data Stories is sponsored by Tableau. You can download a free trial at  – check the new Tableau 9!]

Hi folks! We have Benedikt Groß with us on the show. Benedikt defines himself as a “speculative and computational designer who works antidisciplinarily“. Benedikt graduated from the Design Interactions course at the Royal College of Art and he works for his studio in Stuttgart, Germany. He is the co-author of ‘Generative Design’, one of the standard books on the topic.

In the show we talk about some of his amazing data projects at the intersection of art, design, science, sociology, etc. Aerial Bold, for instance, is a project about searching satellite images to find buildings and geographic features that look like letters. The Big Atlas of LA Pools, is a project about mapping all pools in LA. And is about showing demographic data in an engaging way and even giving you a prediction of when you are going to die! This is an amazing episode with stories about how Bill Gates crushed with one tweet and how they published 74 books of pool images totaling about 6000 pages and how they outsourced some of the work to an Indian company to trace the pools. Amazing stuff!

Enjoy it!


Data Stories #52 Science Communication at SciAm w/ Jen Christiansen

This episode of Data Stories is sponsored by Tableau. You can download a free trial at


Hey yo, we have Jen Christiansen from Scientific American with us in DS#52.

Jen is art director of information graphics at Scientific American magazine where she is been for about then years and she has a background in natural science illustration from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Science communication is one of our favorite topics and we are so happy to have such an amazing expert like Jen on the show. Jen reveals the nitty gritty of scientific visualization and illustration as experienced by one of the top scientific communication magazines in the world.

How does a scientific piece come to life? Where does an idea for a new piece come from? How do they interact with the scientists to make sure everything they report is accurate and yet accessible for a broad audience? And what does need to be done before an illustration gets ready for print?

We discuss this and many other questions with Jen. Enjoy the show!


Data Stories #51: Smart Cities w/ Dietmar Offenhuber

We are now sponsored by Qlik. You can download it for free here.

Hi Folks!

Dietmar Offenhuber

We have another great guest on the show. Dietmar Offenhuber visits us to talk about smart cities and visualizing data coming from cities.

Dietmar has an interesting background. He has a background in architecture with a Dipl. Ing. from the Technical University Vienna and then he got a MS in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab and a PhD in Urban Planning from MIT. He’s also been a key researcher at Ars Electronica Futurelab.

Now he is an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in the departments of Art + Design and Public Policy, where he does research on the technological and social aspects of smart cities and urban governance.

In the show we talk about many of his super interesting projects such as Wegzeit  (timespace visualizations of LA) and Trash Track (on tracking and visualizing where garbage goes), and interesting concepts such as Accountability Technologies and Infrastructure Legibility. We also talk about the future of smart cities and what we should expect to get our of smart cities.

Enjoy the show!


(Moritz Launched ON BROADWAY with Lev Manovich, Dominikus Baur, Daniel Goddemeyer)

Our Guest: Dietmar Offenhuber
Arts Electronica Future Lab
MIT Senseable City Lab
Northeastern University Department of Art + Design
Wegzeit – timespace visualizations of LA
Comment Flow (social media visualization)
Semaspace (graph editing tool)
Trash Track (tracking and visualizing trash)
Smartcitizen (distributed crowdsourced sensors)
Bill Mitchell (MIT Media Lab Professor of Architecture and Media Arts and Sciences)
Mapping the archive (project with Dietmar and Moritz on the Arts Electronica Archive)
Dietmar’s Interview: Sorting Out Cities
Deitmar’s Book: Inscribing A Square (how urban data shapes public space / discourse, and what kinds of representations are involved, and what is their function)
Dietmar’s Book: Accountability Technologies – Tools for Asking Hard Questions
Dietmar’s Book: Decoding The City

Data Stories #50: Happy Birthday Data Stories!

We are now sponsored by Qlik. You can download it for free here.

Ah! We made it to 50 episodes and three years of this lovely podcast of ours. We have loved every bit of it, every guest, every single discussion and all the support we received from everyone.

For this episode we asked repeatedly to submit a short audio snippet or text and we received a few amazing ones. We are very grateful to you all guys, this is amazing.

In the episode we talk about a few statistics we extracted on episodes with highest number of listeners and blog posts with highest number of visits. We then read the text messages we received. And finally we have inserted the audio messages we received. THANKS A LOT! This is amazing.

P.S. Special thanks to Erik Jacobson for his amazing collage! :)


Most popular episodes (of about the last 12 months)

Data Stories #39: DensityDesign w/ Paolo Ciuccarelli
Data Stories #38: Visual Complexity w/ Manuel Lima
Data Stories #40: Narrative Visualization Research w/ Jessica Hullman
Data Stories #44: w/ Tamara Munzner

Most popular pages:

Data Stories #5 – How To Learn Data Visualization (with Andy Kirk)
Data Stories #22: NYT Graphics and D3 with Mike Bostock and Shan Carter
Data Stories #35: Visual Storytelling w/ Alberto Cairo and Robert Kosara

Podcast recommendations:

Talking Machines (on Machine Learning)
Theory Of Everything
Song Exploder
Reply All



Data Stories #49: Data Journalism at ProPublica w/ Scott Klein

We are now sponsored by Qlik. You can download it for free here

scott-kleinHi everyone,

In this episode we have Scott Klein from ProPublica with us. ProPublica is a nonprofit organization that does investigative journalism and Scott directs a team of data journalists and programmers to create new applications based on data and data visualization.

In the show we talk about how ProPublica works and what challenges they are confronted with. How do you pick a story? How do you develop it? How do you make sure you are not making mistakes? This are some of the questions we discuss. We also talk about tools and libraries and how to train yourself to become a data journalist.

This was a very much needed episode as we never had a proper episode on data journalism. Thanks Scott for coming on the show!


ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs
Book: How Not To Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg
PDF Scraping Tool: Tabula (
The IPython Notebook (web-based interactive computational environment)
ProPublica’s Open Source Tools
The New School’s Program Journalism + Design
The ProPublica Nerd Blog
Knight-Mozilla Open News (community of data journalists)
NICAR-L Mailing List (National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting)

Leave A Message To Say Happy Birthday To Data Stories!

Hi everyone, we just marked our third birthday and, coincidentally, we are also going to mark our 50th episode! It’s been such a great journey for everyone.

For our 50th episode we’d like to collect messages from our listeners. We’ll select the funniest ones. So it’s up to you to make us laugh! :)

Please state your name in the message and let us know about you Data Stories listening habits (some people listen to us in some very weird conditions).

To leave a message you can:

  1. Call our Google Voice number (347) 881-3740 and leave a voice mail message (let it ring until the voicemail starts).
  2. Record a snipped from your computer and send it to us as a dropbox link (or similar solutions) to:
  3. You can always send us an email to and we will read it for you.

Hurry up! That’s going to be fun!