Category: Featured

102  |  Understanding Comics and Visual Storytelling with Scott McCloud

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In this episode we have famous cartoonist and comics theorist Scott McCloud. Scott wrote the popular books Understanding Comics (1993), Reinventing Comics (2000), and Making Comics (2006), which explain the theory and practice behind making comics and telling stories visually.

Scott has gained a big following among data visualization designers over the years. By following the strategies he describes in his books, one can develop rich narratives that are useful in data visualization as well as comics.

On the show we talk about his books, the power of frames, Scott’s definition of story, virtual reality, and what people in vis can learn from comic artists.

Enjoy the show!



Data Stories is brought to you by Qlik. Are you missing out on meaningful relationships hidden in your data? Unlock the whole story with Qlik Sense through personalized visualizations and dynamic dashboards which you can download for free at


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098  |  Data Sketches with Nadieh Bremer and Shirley Wu

In this episode Moritz meets Nadieh Bremer and Shirley Wu for a face-to-face episode in Berlin.

Nadieh and Shirley recently paired up to create Data Sketches, a twelve-month collaboration. Each month they choose a topic and develop a visualization on their theme.

One nice aspect of the project is that they keep track of their entire development process, including the steps they followed to prepare the data, sketch the ideas, and create the final visualizations.

On the show we talk about the organization of the projects, some favorite visualizations from the year, the partnership between the collaborators, and how they balance Data Sketches with their freelancing work.

We’re collecting listener questions, ideas, and suggestions about Data Stories for our upcoming 100th episode. Leave us a message at +1-413-650-2713 and we may just feature your voice in the podcast!

Data Stories is brought to you by Qlik. Are you missing out on meaningful relationships hidden in your data? Unlock the whole story with Qlik Sense through personalized visualizations and dynamic dashboards which you can download for free at

Help us fund Data Stories by donating on Patreon! We’re counting on you to switch to a crowdfunding model. Please visit our Patreon page for more details!

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093  |  OddityViz with Valentina D’Efilippo and Miriam Quick

We have designer Valentina D’Efilippo and researcher Miriam Quick on the show to talk about their recent project OddityViz, a series of data visualizations of “Space Oddity,” the famous David Bowie song.

Valentina and Miriam deconstructed “Space Oddity” into multiple data sets to capture different aspects of the song: its narrative, rhythm, melody, and lyrics. Then they used each element to create a a unique data visualization piece.

They printed the visualizations as a series of posters and laser-carved acrylic black discs. Beautiful!

On the show we talk about their background, the process they followed to develop the project, and the events happening around it.

Enjoy the show!

Data Stories is brought to you by Qlik. Are you missing out on meaningful relationships hidden in your data? Unlock the whole story with Qlik Sense through personalized visualizations and dynamic dashboards which you can download for free at


Help Data Stories get crowdfunded! You can find the details at our Patreon page:

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085  |  Machine Bias with Jeff Larson

ProPublica - Jeff Larson
ProPublica – Jeff Larson

On the show this week we have Jeff Larson, Data Editor at ProPublica, to talk about his team’s recent work on “Machine Bias“. Jeff and his colleagues have analyzed the automated scoring decisions made by COMPAS, one of the systems American judges use to assess the likelihood that a convicted criminal will re-offend.

By looking at the COMPAS data, Jeff and his colleagues sought to determine the accuracy of the algorithm and whether it introduces significant biases into the criminal justice system — racial or otherwise. (Their finding: Yes, it seems that it does.)

On the show we talk about how the software is used by judges, how the ProPublica analysis was carried out, what the team found, and what can be done to improve the situation.

Jeff also gives us a small preview of other stories his team is working on and how you can go about developing similar projects.

Enjoy the show!

This episode of Data Stories is sponsored by Qlik, which allows you to explore the hidden relationships within your data that lead to meaningful insights. Take a look at their Presidential Election app to analyze the TV network coverage for every mention of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. And make sure to try out Qlik Sense for free at:



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084  |  Statistical Numbing with Paul Slovic

paulWe have Professor Paul Slovic from University of Oregon on the show to talk about “Statistical Numbing.” Professor Slovic is a renowned expert on the effect of numbers and statistics on empathy (or lack thereof). His fascinating, if not depressing, experiments have consistently shown how hard it is for statistics to elicit any sense of scale in human tragedies and how numbers can often even be detrimental if the goal is to elicit compassion and generous actions from an audience.

On the show, we talk about “Statistical Numbing” and it psychological underpinnings. Professor Slovic also describes his experiments and their implications. And we address one of the most important questions: Is there hope? Is there something we, as practitioners, can do to counteract these negative effects?

Enjoy this deeply scientific episode and let us know what you think!

This episode of Data Stories is sponsored by FreshBooks, the small business accounting software that makes your accounting tasks easy, fast and secure. FreshBooks is offering a month of free unrestricted use to all of our listeners. To claim your free month of FreshBooks, go to and sign up for free without the use of a credit card. Note: Remember to enter “Data Stories” in the section titled “I heard about FreshBooks from…”




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080  |  Indexical Visualization with Dietmar Offenhuber

August 28, 2013 - Dietmar Offenhuber, a new faculty member in the College of Arts, Media and Design and the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, specializes in visualization and information design.

We have Dietmar Offenhuber, Assistant Professor at Northeastern University, on the show again to talk about “Indexical Visualizations”: visualizations that reduce the gap between the recorded phenomenon and its representation.

In Dietmar’s words: “If we understand ‘data’ as a collection of symbolically encoded observations, could we think of a display that conveys information—without the symbolic encoding of data—through the object itself?

On the show we talk about strategies to define and build indexical visualizations. Dietmar provides numerous examples, including thermometers, tree rings, petri dishes, and the blinking lights in your router. He also offers tips on experimenting with this kind of visualization and connecting to the indexical vis community.

If you enjoy this episode you may also want to listen to our previous episode with Dietmar and to our “data sculptures” episode with Domestic Data Streamers.

Enjoy the show!

This episode is sponsored by TableauTableau helps people see and understand their data. Tableau 10 is the latest version of the company’s rapid fire, easy-to-use visual analytics software. It includes a completely refreshed design, mobile enhancements, new options for preparing, integrating and connecting to data and a host of new enterprise capabilities. You can find more information on the upcoming Tableau 10 here.




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075  |  Listening to Data From Space with Scott Hughes


Dear friends, we are really excited to publish our first “data sonification” episode ever! After many years of searching for the right person, subject and format, we are happy to publish this fantastic episode with Scott Hughes from MIT. Scott is an astrophysicist and a key figure at LIGO, the laser interferometer project that finally allowed scientists to “listen” to the sound of two colliding black holes.

Here Scott talks about how he decided to sonify his data and how sonification is being used by scientists to understand astrophysical phenomena.

Listen as we play a number of samples; Scott walks us through their meaning and the physics behind them. It’s really really cool. Warm up your ears!

You can also listen to some samples from Scott Hughes and his team here:



  • Simulation of a final collision of two massive black holes, what Scott calls “the ringing mode” of a black hole. All that is audible is the last “pop” of the system settling down to a single black hole.


  • Two objects moving past each other in space. The gravitational waves in this case are loud when the small body moves close to the large body (its motion is fast during that part of the orbit), and they are quiet when the small body is far away (when its motion is slow).


  • Also, take a look at the many links that we have added below. You can listen to the sounds yourself and discover a number of additional sonification projects.

Huge thanks to Scott for spending so much time with us preparing the sounds and recording the show. We loved it!

This episode of Data Stories is sponsored by CartoDB. CartoDB is an open, powerful, and intuitive platform for discovering and predicting the key facts underlying the massive location data in our world. Whether you are a business, government agency, or simply a lover of revolutionary spatial insight technology, don’t settle for anything less than the best interactive maps around. Learn how CartoDB is shaping the world of location intelligence at


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074  |  Data Ethics and Privacy with Eleanor Saitta


We have Eleanor Saitta on the show to talk about data privacy. Eleanor is “a hacker, designer, artist, writer, and barbarian.” She is also Etsy’s new Security Architect.

During our chat we discuss the fine line between the excitement of being able to work with great data sets and the many — oftentimes unexpected — privacy risks associated with it.



This episode of Data Stories is sponsored by Qlik, which allows you to explore the hidden relationships within your data that lead to meaningful insights. Make sure to check out the data visualization mapping tutorial on the Qlik Blog. You can try out Qlik Sense for free at:


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067  |  ggplot2, R, and data toolmaking with Hadley Wickham


We have Hadley Wickham on the show, Chief Scientist at RStudio and Adjunct Professor of Statistics at Rice University and the University of Auckland.

Hadley created a number of hugely popular libraries for the R language, including ggplot2, which is used throughout the world to analyze and present data.

On the show we talk about his creative process to develop ggplot2, its growing popularity, other libraries he has built in the R ecosystem, and strategies for creating popular software for data analysis and visualization.

Enjoy listening to Hadley Wickham, or read the transcript from our interview here!

Data Stories is brought to you by Qlik, which allows you to explore the hidden relationships within your data that lead to meaningful insights. Take part in the Open Data Challenge for a chance to win $10,000 for an app created with Qlik Sense!


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064  |  "Dear Data" with Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec


Hey folks,

It’s time for another project-centric episode, and we finally talk about one of our favorite projects of the year — “Dear Data”  by the most fabulous tag team of data illustrators around: Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec.



Their year-long project is about how “two women who switched continents get to know each other through the data they draw and send across the pond” and consists of 104 hand–drawn postcards all of which document one week of their lives. How much they cursed, laughed, read, smiled at strangers, … — all of this is documented in inventive, charming and very analogue ways.

Learn all about the project — how they started it, what they learned, and how it will live on — in the episode.

Links mentioned:

And read the episode transcript here!

Data Stories is brought to you by Qlik, who allow you to explore the hidden relationships within your data that lead to meaningful insights. Check out this fun experiment on the qlik blog: “What Chart are You?”. And, make sure to try out Qlik Sense, which you can download for free at

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