001  |  Exuberant Animated Data Kitsch

Hi Folks, in this episode we discuss the goods and bads of animated visualization:

03:26 – Introducing Data Stories
06:05 – Data Animation Kitsch
14:40 – Using Animation Interactively
17:54 – Scientific Research on Animation
27:17 – Eye-candy and the 2D vs. 3D Debate
29:37 – Engagement and “Data Entertainment”
31:19 – Contests and Marathons
41:07 – Conclusion

Here are some useful links to follow the discussion.


Well-crafted round-up article by Andy Kirk

Research papers on animation.

What do you think of animation in visualization? Is it effective? Can you resist the allure?

Related episodes


  1. Ryo says:

    very nice podcast! but would it be possible to have a video podcast, instead of just audio? although links to projects mentioned in the talk are provided, sometimes you guys are talking about interaction and animation, and it would be helpful to have your screen capture to see exactly what you are seeing/talking about.

  2. moritzstefaner says:

    Thanks! We can totally envision that, too 🙂 For getting started, we want to keep it lean and focus on the conversation, but we are looking into how to enhance the podcast with visuals. If you have any good pointers – positive examples, technical information, tools, etc. – this would be much appreciated. (We are just in process of figuring the whole podcasting thing out 😉 )

  3. TSSVeloso says:

    Hi, guys, congratulations, finally someone steped up and made a data-viz podcast!! I’m sure you already have lots of ideas and suggestions to discuss in future episodes, and my only hope is that this will be, above all, a great way to bring down the apparent gap between the experts and the general audience.

    Therefore, I’d love to see something like a tip for newbies – like myself -, every episode (a video tutorial you found, or books, apps, tools, sites, etc), maybe hear a little bit about where can you learn more (best schools/universities, interesting papers, etc) and also interviews with people from completely different backgrounds (journalists, programmers, visual cientists, etc)

    Anyway, for me, this podcast is, by far, the best thing so far in the field this year, and I just wish you guys can keep it up as long as possible!

    Cheers from Brazil!


  4. Minwoo Hwang says:

    Hi, my data visualization teachers. I really thanks to you.
    I am child of data visualization, recently I made a decision in my mind to learn data visualization. but, I can’t find teachers and schools in my country 🙁
    fortunately i got you. to tell the truth, i don’t know a lot of talks.. but, I hope to make good data visualizations like you both. I’ll try to learn every podcast.
    thank you.

  5. Fabian says:

    A podcast on data visualization! That’s a cool idea! Keep on going! 🙂

    Have you thought about, what a good length of a single episode is? At least I have to confess, that I haven’t listened the whole 45 minutes *yet*. I had to skip over some parts. I hope I find more time in the next days…

    • moritzstefaner says:

      Yes, in fact, we are aiming for the 45 minutes mark now, but of course we can adjust. I know podcasts that are much longer, and others are much shorter. We will try and have a nice chapter structure, so you can skip some parts when you are in a hurry.

  6. Great job, guys! Two things, one about the podcast itself, the other about the content.

    First, have you guys ever given any though to live podcasting? It’d be nice to livestream so we the listeners can get in on the conversations. Might be fun.

    The other thing I have is that I agree one of the big problems with all these contest is the volume. Over time, the best thing that could happen to keep quality up is that the volume decreases and the best contests survive.

  7. Luca says:

    Hi Enrico and Moritz!
    As for animation in datavis I think that AVIZ has done a great job to integrate animation in visualization. If you check out the video (see link) you can see how you can control the tween by clicking and dragging, helping you to understand the transformation between layouts.


  8. Mitchell says:

    Guys, you do not suck. Really appreciate the concept and the form, it’s a joy to hear some human voices in this world of text and image. As I listened I thought it was going to turn into another episode in the datavis culture wars, ie hci-based functional vis vs designer eye candy. But I was impressed at the balance and openness in the discussion.

    Also, fantastic to hear some critical voices responding to the flood of data vis work. One point I would like to hear more on, though, is datavis as a cultural practice. For me this cuts through the tension in your discussion between the engagement of the “shiny” vis, and the concerns about its functional failures. Work like the Fathom GE pieces just doesn’t operate in a “standard” visualisation context, if there is such a thing. The “wow” effect – the message that *there is lots of data here* is a valuable one simply because of the current cultural value of data as a concept. My argument is that there are many different possible functions at play here; and that a lot of this work has a cultural function that overrides its function as a legible data representation,

    Again, great work, look forward to the next one. Cheers,


    • moritzstefaner says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment! I find the topic you raise quite intriguing, and we might indeed make it a topic in the next few episodes… For me, the “data visualization can be a cultural artefact” clicked when I was asked to _remix_ one of Hans Rosling’s visualizations (http://moritz.stefaner.eu/projects/remixing-rosling/) – at this pojnt I realized something significant cultural is going on. So, it could be really interesting to expand on this perspective a bit – the non-analytical roles of datavis. Thanks – mental note taken!

  9. Victor Pascual says:

    Good stuff!!

    Thanks for such an interesting podcast. Specially for the mix of topics that relate the industry and the academia as well.

    Perhaps in the near future you could use a poll to decide one of the topics you would cover. for instance, I would love to know what you guys think about graph visualizations. They’re pretty well-known and used, but part of the infovis community (specially in the academia) claim that node-link diagrams are often not that good (http://eagereyes.org/techniques/graphs-hairball).


    • moritzstefaner says:

      Great idea. I am big into networks, and am just preparing a talk called “OMG – it’s all connected!”, so this is well within reach 🙂

  10. Steen says:

    Fantastic work guys! Really great to be able to indulge my datavis fix on my commute.

    WRT the notion of Data Entertainment: I am a VJ, and a fellow VJ was showing me an experiment he is doing using python graphing libraries being driven by audio and random inputs. The result is really something that looks like data visualization (circa 1992 PowerPoint) but completely meaningless. Also, I have been working on some dynamic visuals for my nightclub that take real world data and convert it into visualizations which are intended to be entirely pretty and not particularly readable as informative. So, I think it’s important to note that “data visualization” is increasingly defining aesthetics that are driving entertainment, and I think this is a synesthetic feedback process that goes back and forth. The line between useful and merely entertaining data visualization may not be as well defined as one might think 🙂

    Again, great work on the podcast, and looking forward to future ones!

  11. Jon says:

    Nice work guys. Really enjoyed listening to you and I appreciate the more casual feeling of the podcast as opposed to some sort of scripted back and forth.

    Just a few thoughts as you move forward:
    -could you consider inviting other data viz people for some ‘panel’-type discussions?
    -you’ve discussed the animated v static issue here and I’d love to hear you discuss some of the other big debate items; e.g., circles to represent data; color (dark on light v light on dark); unit graphs; vector images to represent data, etc.
    -perhaps you could release some material ahead of time for the next podcast so your loyal listeners could be informed before you talk? For example, you discuss the Visualizing.org Marathon winner here; for those who hadn’t seen it, maybe you can link to it on this site before you release the talk.

    Overall, great start and looking forward to more!

  12. Chuck The Nerd says:

    I appreciate your efforts on the podcast. Any words of wisdom on how to slowly (cheaply $$$) introduce _business_ people to the benefits/costs of looking beyond Excel for data viz?

  13. Priya says:

    Thanks for the podcast. Its very informative!
    I would like to hear more about the benefits and limitations of the tools used to create visualizations. eg. softwares like excel or programming languages like Java, c++.

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