In between working for a living, we recently had a lot of fun participating in the first round of the 2015 IronViz competition. This round was all about leveraging Wikipedia as a data source and building interesting visualizations with that data. On the Boulder Insight Team, we had our own internal favorites from Chris, Steven and William, but we were also more than a little impressed by our peers’ work. Here are some of our favorite aspects from the field of entries:
There were many things that I enjoyed viewing in this round of entries and several things that, in my practice to-date, I haven’t come across until now. These are a few of the things that jumped out and made me want to learn more about their technique.
Normally, I’m not a fan of websites that auto-play sounds, but Shine Pulikathara’s audio tour of his Impressionist Painters’ workbook was nicely integrated. Another great use of audio included Neil Charles’ use of “Mars The Bringer of War”. I had to listen twice. Paul Banoub and Stephen Wagner’s integrated television images added a fun dimension to their use of media.
Stephen also made a nice visual of Crayola colors. I tried this data set myself and got as far as the palette (used in one of my own vizzes), but sorting the colors in a meaningful way threw me. Thanks for the links on color sorting and custom color palettes, Stephen!
There were more, but these are just a few of the techniques that I’m now looking for a chance to use somewhere.
Humans are story addicts. Regardless of how insanely important a topic or idea might be, if you present it in a dry fashion without a relatable story then no one will remember a thing about it. Case in point: your grandpa can probably keep people entertained for longer than many nobel laureates, even though (no offense to your grandpa) it’s a no-brainer who probably has the more important subject matter. I really enjoyed the submissions that created stories with their data.
Most memorable for me is Shine Pulikathara’s Guide to French Impressionist Painters – it hooked me from the moment the audio started. Having many years of art classes embedded in my psyche, I absolutely loved the ‘art museum tour’ feel he created. The numbered audio clips are a great way to pull viewers along in a guided sequence of information, helping them discover something they might otherwise not care about. Special props to all of the other contributors that used audio, “quiz” functionality, and other non-standard Tableau goodies! The use of these innovative features can really heighten the viewer experience.
Another entry that stuck out to me was Russell Spangler’s Human Development Index viz. It’s so refreshing to me when someone creates a visualization about social or global issues. There’s a lot of information presented by Russell, and once you hone in on a country it’s really cool to see the progress of different nations on human issues. I would love to see more people analyzing data about human needs and problems, in order to help us advance those causes.
Finally, shout out to Sean Reynolds’ Wikipedia Featured Articles analysis which reminded me of our own MetaViz of the Day (#meta!), Neil Charles’ Solar System viz (I’m a huge space nerd), and Matt Chambers’ Cosmic Calendar (I’ve always loved the idea of compressing the whole universe into a year). And of course, congrats to everyone who took the time to create a viz and enter the competition!