DS#60: Upcoming DS Events and Some of Our Recent Projects

Hey folks, we are back! We really hope you had a good summer.

We start the new season with an “internal” episode. We give numerous updates on Data Stories. Things we have changed recently, future ideas and two great events to get in touch with us!

  1. The Visualized conference, taking place in New York Oct 7-10, 2015, is going to host a Data Stories Meetup on Oct 7, 2015. If you live in NYC or happen to be around please drop by! We’d love to meet and talk with you.
  2. We will also give an Ask Me Anything on Reddit on November 3. This is a unique opportunity to ask us questions live and have a great chat together.

In the show we also talk about some of our recent projects.

Moritz talks about False Positive, an art project on data, privacy and identity. He also talks about the new Inclusive Growth Report from the World Economic Forum, for which he designed the graphics and website together with Stefanie Posavec and 9elements.

Enrico talks about the RevEx tool and his collaboration with ProPublica for the analysis of millions of medical Yelp reviews, his work with Human Rights experts and a recently published paper on visualization design with climate scientists.

This episode is sponsored by Qlik who allows you to explore hidden relationships within data that lead to insights. Read Patrik Lundblad’s blog posts on the three pillars of data visualization(1,2,3). You can download Qlik Sense for free at: www.qlik.de/datastories.


Behind the Scenes of “What’s Really Warming The World?” with the Bloomberg Team (DS#59)

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 1.17.38 PM

Different people, working for different institutions, in different countries, at different times, all come up with the same answer …

– Eric Roston, Bloomberg (talking about global warming)

Hi folks! We have Blacki Migliozzi and Eric Roston from Bloomberg on the show to talk about their recent data graphic piece on climate change called “What’s Really Warming The World?“.

The graphics shows, through a “scrollytelling”, what factors may influence the world’s temperature according to well established climate models and it guides your through a series of questions and visuals to see with your eyes what does correlate (spoiler: carbon emissions) and what does not.

On the show we talk about how the Bloomberg team came up with this piece, their interaction with the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) scientists who developed the model, and the many challenges of translating important scientific knowledge into more digestible, but not simplistic, articles everyone can read.

We also talk about how for this graphic they took inspiration from the children book “Where’s Spot?” (which is a nice narrative technique for vis!) and all the delicate design decisions they had to make.

… And don’t miss the moment when Eric drops the huge IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) report book to give a sense of how big it is!

Enjoy the show!

This episode is sponsored by Qlik who allows you to explore hidden relationships within data that lead to insights. Qlik was named a Top 10 Innovative Growth Company by Forbes, and they published an interesting blog post analyzing the data from the ranking. Check it out! Qlik Sense allows you to create personalized visualizations and dynamic dashboards. You can download it for free at: www.qlik.de/datastories.


Data Stories #58: Data Installations w/ Domestic Data Streamers


I believe we are bored from being 8 to 10 hours everyday in front of the screen, so when we go out from the screen the real life happens and things get more and more interesting

– Dani Llugany Pearson

Hey everyone, starting from this episode we will add images/photos of projects and ideas discussed on the show so that you no longer have to guess what we are talking about! Try this one below … if you click on it you’ll get high-res pictures. Let us know if you like it!

Hi folks,

We have Dani Llugany Pearson from Domestic Data Streamers to talk about the studio and their amazing participatory data installations.

You really need to see examples of what they do! Go to http://domesticstreamers.com/ and take a look at their projects.

In Data Strings they ask people to add their own thread to a physical parallel coordinates. In Life Line they use a grid of 800 balloons to show the point between one’s real age and the age at which one would like to die. In Golden Age they use a grid to let people mark with a log what is their age and what they believe is the best age in people’s life.

On the show we talk about how they started and describe the process behind some of the projects.

Enjoy the show!

This episode is sponsored by Qlik who allows you to explore hidden relationships within data that lead to insights. Qlik Sense allows you to create personalized visualizations and dynamic dashboards. You can download it for free at: www.qlik.de/datastories.


Data Stories #57: Visualizing Human Development w/ Max Roser

max-roserWe have economist Max Roser from University of Oxford to talk about his Our World in Data project where he visualizes the social, economic, and environmental history of humanity up to the present day.

Our World in Data is a remarkable project which Max started on his own little by little in the spare time and evolved into a full web site with plenty of interesting data, presentations and visualizations to to better understand humanity.

The nicest thing about it is that it provides a quite positive picture of the world and about in how many ways we are improving our conditions. Go to the website (http://ourworldindata.org/) and take a look at War and Violence, Poverty, Global Heath, Etc.

On the show we talk about how Max started and the process behind finding a topic, collecting and curating the data and producing these nice visuals people can easily understand. We also talk about human biases, persuasion, and how Max learned to build web sites and visualizations.

Enjoy the show!

This episode is sponsored by Visualizing Well-Being, the Wikiprogress Data Visualization Contest 2015. Enter the contest to win a trip to Mexico! To find out more, visit the Wikiprogress website (www.wikiprogress.org) or the facebook page or follow @wikiprogress on twitter.


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: mail@datastori.es.
  3. You can always send us an email to mail@datastori.es and we will read it for you.

Hurry up! That’s going to be fun!

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)

Data Stories #25: Visualization on Mobile & Touch Devices w/ Dominikus Baur

Hi Everyone,

In this episode we talk about visualization on mobile and touch devices. How do you design visualization interfaces for this kind of devices? How different is it to interact with your fingertips rather than with your mouse? Advantages, disadvantages, unexplored opportunities?

We talk about that with Dominukus Baur, interaction designer and mobile data visualization specialist. You can see his work on his website/blog. Make sure to give a look to his talk at the OpenVis Conference: Data on Your FingerTips. He gives lots of useful tips!

Episode Chapters

00:00:00 Enrico and Mo go on vacations
00:02:28 Our guest: Dominikus Baur
00:04:06 Life logging and personal media
00:05:10 Accents
00:05:39 Why mobile visualization, and how is it different from desktop visualizations?
00:09:24 Mobile interaction
00:13:27 Mobiles for interaction with other displays
00:14:38 Augmented reality
00:15:54 TouchWave – touch interaction with stacked graphs
00:21:52 Multitouch
00:24:45 Analytical, advanced visualization on mobile?
00:26:44 Self-tracking and life logging
00:31:17 Daytum app
00:32:54 Other good mobile visualization apps
00:35:12 Second screen apps
00:36:28 Moritz wants an atlas
00:37:04 The age of ghettoblasters
00:38:00 Use mobiles to interact with large screens
00:41:48 Technology: native, or web-based?
00:46:07 Better Life Index: HTML5 port works on mobiles, tablets
00:48:00 Research on mobile and touch interactions
00:50:39 Large screens
00:58:54 How to get started
01:01:13 Dominikus will start a blog!!


Business Intelligence iPad Apps

Presentation Apps





Data Stories #24: The VAST Challenge: Visual Analytics Competitions with Synthetic Benchmark Data Sets

Hi Everyone,

In this episode we talk about the VAST Challenge, a visual analytics contest organized every year co-located with the IEEE VIS Conference, the premier venue for academic work in visualization.

The VAST Challenge has many unique features (like the generation of synthetic data sets with injected ground truth) and this year for the first time it features a predictive analytics and design mini-challenge (Stephen Few’s talked about it too here) you should definitely check out.

We talk with Prof. Georges Grinstein from UMass Lowell and Celste Paul from NSA. They give us lots of details about how the data is generated, how the entries are evaluated and how it looks like participating to the contest.

You guys should actually give it a try and rock it!

[Sorry no episode chapters this time]



Data Stories #23: Inspiration or Plagiarism? w/ Bryan Connor and Mahir Yavuz

Hi Folks!

In this episode we touch upon a tricky question: where is the fine line between taking inspiration from other projects and merely copying them? We discuss that with Bryan Connor from The Why Axis and Mahir Yavuz from Seed Scientific.

Note: We suggest you give a look to the links below (under the heading “Cases We Discuss in the Podcast”) before listening to the podcast, most of the episode is centered around these examples we selected for discussion.

Episode Chapters

00:00:00 Intro
00:01:56 Flattr
00:03:46 Main topic today: inspiration or plagiarism with our guests Mahir M. Yavuz and Bryan Connor
00:07:53 Is data visualization turning into a copycat scene?
00:08:32 Remake of subway map by New Yorker
00:13:19 Patterns
00:14:03 Idea – technology – aesthetics
00:16:06 Patterns ctd.
00:18:19 Gun murders – drone strikes – meteorites
00:23:19 What constitutes an “outrageous rip-off”?
00:27:31 On originality
00:33:07 Guardian Gay Rights / Gun Laws graphic
00:37:53 On the value of reproduction and chains of inspiration
00:44:01 Stream graphs
00:49:01 Value of transparent documentation of process
00:50:44 Non-patterns
00:53:13 Remix culture, github culture
00:54:48 Snow fall
00:58:04 Patents
01:01:47 A new language for citation in design?
01:09:36 Closing remarks

Cases We Discuss in the Podcast

New Yorker’s Inequality Subway Map

Periscopic’s Dramatic Animation of Gun Murders

Guardian’s Gay Rights Radial Visualization


More Examples (not discussed)

Good Related Reads


Thanks a lot to Bryan and Mahir for this intense, controversial and funny chat!

Take care,
Enrico and Moritz.

Data Stories #22: NYT Graphics and D3 with Mike Bostock and Shan Carter

Hi everyone,

We have graphic editors Mike Bostock and Shan Carter in this dense and long episode. It’s great to finally have someone from NYT!

We talk about many practical and more philosophical aspects of publishing interactive visualization on the web. We also spend quite some time discussing about D3.js’s past, present and future.

(On a side note: apologies for starting a bit abruptly and for the weird noises. Enrico was desperately and unsuccessfully trying to find a quiet and calm spot at the CHI conference.)

Take Care,
Enrico & Mo.

P.S. Many thanks to all of you guys who sent us on Twitter questions for Mike and Shan.

Episode Chapters

00:00:00 Intro
00:00:12 Our guests today: New York Times graphics editors Mike Bostocks and Shan Carter
00:01:54 About the NYT graphics department
00:06:56 Map wrangling
00:08:47 QA, evaluation, fact checking,…
00:11:23 Twitter question: Post the data set along with the graphic?
00:15:51 Exploratory or explanatory?
00:19:56 User tracking, user feedback
00:25:53 Balance of familiarity vs. new visual vocabularies
00:29:52 Workflow, on the example of the 512 paths graphic
00:38:05 Hybrid workflows between automation and manual layout
00:45:12 d3
00:45:49 History and philosophy
00:56:19 Value of examples
00:57:31 Community adoption
00:59:25 Vega
01:04:53 More d3 books or tutorials for advanced users?
01:08:15 Developer community
01:09:45 Sustainability
01:11:51 Future development
01:15:10 Enrico is back!
01:16:13 Is d3 complete?
01:18:52 When does Mike sleep?
01:19:45 Wrapping it up

Links to discussed NYT projects