The Feedback Loop: evaluating choices, not checklists

Preface: We're starting a second workshop of The Feedback Loop, a creative workshop and community for data viz. Read more below to learn about this group. If you'd like to join, fill out this survey.

Recently, feedback has been a popular (and at times, hotly debated) discussion topic in the data viz community. Ben Jones (@dataRemixed) wrote a post to encourage us to think about our intentions, when we give feedback, and how we give feedback.  Anna Foard (@stats_ninja) retweeted a Harvard Business Review article with similar sentiments that started a healthy threat discussing public feedback. Criticism and feedback are planned discussion points between Steve Wexler (@VizBizWiz), Jeffrey Shaffer (@HighVizAbility), and Andy Cotgreave (@acotgreave)during the next episode of Chart Chat. Lea Pica (@LeaPica) spoke about feedback on a podcast and wrote an article on the 6 steps to powerful criticism. Nathan Yau (@flowingdata) wrote a post responding to the many opinions out there.

In …

Is your text helping or hurting your story?: What I learned making comic vizzes

As someone with a creative background primarily focused in writing, I'm sensitive to the role of text (note: this doesn't mean I'm a master; in fact, I'm going to provide you with some examples of text gone wrong from my own work). I've already written a bit on text: the concept of enjambments and how we end a line can confuse readers, and the power of a single word to change the entire strategy and theme of a viz.

But for this post, I wanted to take a more holistic look at how text enhances (or hinders) a narrative, especially after making a few comic book vizzes that really challenged my use of text.

But first...what not to do Look at two examples of my work below, which I would say demonstrate a massive failure in the use of text: the first a #MakeoverMonday on EPSN sport difficulty rankings, and the second a #MakeoverMonday on diversity in tech companies

Notice something about the text? I started with a massive chunk of text at the beginning. Seriously, who t…

Visual rhythms (part II): types of rhythm

Back on December 31st, I explored rhythm and what it does for our audiences or users, drawing on inspiration from the master of rhythm and her quintessential rhythmic work, Gwendolyn Brooks.

Also, I promised y'all a part II where we explore the different kinds of rhythm. Then my newborn son got colic, and the only rhythm I was experiencing was his cries for hours and hours. Also, I got pretty invested in a series of Marvel comics vizzes (Star Lord, Storm, Ant-Man, Luke Cage, and Daredevil).

So it's late, but I'm finally delivering on my promise: here's at look at regular rhythm, alternating rhythm, progressing rhythm, and random rhythm -- and how we can use those in data viz.

Before we jump into that, note that visual rhythm is one of the core principles of design. Being aware of rhythm is a critical concept in graphic design. Recognizing the different types and making careful decisions on which to use helps you guide your users and audience through the story by anchor…

Join the Creative Vizzing Workshop!

Please read the info below before joining. Workshops require commitment to help each other. This one is designed for minimal commitment, with opportunity to stretch it out over time. This workshop will take place from January through February - allowing plenty of time to submit and viz and submit / review feedback, and even share revisions.

This first workshop will be limited to 12 people, first come first serve (if there is enough interest, we may have multiple sessions simultaneously in the future). You don't need to make a new viz for the workshop, so don't worry about the time spent vizzing. It's recommended to spend at least 10 minutes for each participant, so roughly 2 hours providing feedback. You'll have one month to get this done, with plenty of reminders.

If you're interested, please use this form to sign up.

Questions? Reach out to @data_poetry on Twitter.
Creative workshops: artists helping other artistsWhile there are components of "correctness"…

Visual rhythms (part I): the function of rhythm in data viz

It's time to dive back into the namesake of this brand, data poetry. My posts have diverged from this for a bit, simply because Tableau Conference provided a number of ideas to response and discussion. However, the idea of poetry as a visually-analogous paradigm for data viz still has a lot of content for discussion. 

If I'm going to sustain any comparison between poetry and data visualization, we've got to talk about rhythm. No poetry workshop is complete without a discussion of rhythm, and no discussion of rhythm is complete without a discussion of We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks. Click play below for the reading (with about 90 seconds of awesome commentary, too). You can read along here

It's obvious why this poem is celebrated as the epitome of rhythm. The repetition of "We" establishes a sort of beat, and, if you read along, you noticed that the "We" is at the end of each line, breaking the sentence up across lines - which propels us from line …

When data is scary: the data story behind the birth of my son

He was due December 10th, but my wife woke me up at 4 AM on November 29th: her water had broke. The online birth date probability calculator I'd found (and recreated in Tableau) had only listed a 25% chance the baby would be born this early, and while I'd love to say we were completely prepared, it'd probably be more accurate to say we were 25% prepared. However, our birthing class (of which we had one of four classes remaining) provided us clear instructions, so we called the doctor, packed our bags, and drove to the hospital. 

Now, it's important to note that we'd had our last obstetrics appointment just 12 days prior, and everything had looked fine. Our doctor had repeatedly referred to our pregnancy as "picture perfect". However, when we got to the hospital, we found out that picture had dramatically changed - and the scary data began. 

The birthCheck out this chart below - there's a lot of data here, and it's being updated about every second: 


The power of a word: Ludovic's IronViz "weather memories.."

A perhaps blasphemous confession: I wasn't all that excited to watch the Iron Viz at Tableau Conference. It was my first conference, so I was already overwhelmed. I'm not a big fan of watching sports or people playing video games. I hate timed-based performance and large crowds. Add in the fact that, due to a health illness, my diet was restricted to the granola bars I'd brought (New Orleans culinary arts fit pretty squarely on my "do not touch list"), and I was tired and a wee bit grumpy. I really just wanted to go back to my hotel and sleep before I had to face a crowd of 17,000 in the Superdome that night. 

But I'd really fallen in love with Ludovic's work over the last few months, and he seemed like such a genuine person online that I wanted to be there and cheer him on, if just in spirit. (Disclaimer: by no means am I trying to make a comparison to the other Iron Viz contestants - they did fantastic work and also seem like great people. I just had mor…