I’ve been doing a lot of teaching and training on data visualization and presentation techniques lately. I’ve been working with folks at work, showing them best practices, some Excel tricks, and different tools and techniques. I’ve been doing a lot more client work recently and am gearing up for some public workshops in the early spring. In December, I finished teaching a fall semester data visualization course at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. And in a couple of weeks, I’ll finish my Statistical Applications for Visualization course at the Maryland Institute College of Art and then start a two-week data visualization evening class at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.
All of my workshops and classes are very hands on, so each one of them requires at least some preparation. Sometimes its because I’m working with a specific client or need; other times it’s because the number of people in the room varies from the norm. But I’m usually tweaking content because I want to keep things fresh and use new visualizations and data sets to show and have students work with.
Each time I prepare, I have to go find new data, new visualizations, new blog posts. My current process at recording and tracking these things is, honestly, it’s really terrible. It’s a combination of email, Evernote, Pinterest, and Twitter favorites. But nothing works great for me, probably because I don’t take the proper time to curate.
That’s why I am eternally grateful to a few folks for creating gems of collections. In case you’re looking for a libraries of tools or visualizations, here is what I used in my most recent preparation.
- Lynn Cherny’s Pinterest page. Oh, man, this thing is awesome. Boards for Graphs and Diagrams, UI for Infovis, and Dashboards. The Graphs and Diagrams board is absolute money.
- Jan Willem Tulp’s Pinterest page. Another awesome collection (though a bunch are not in English). The Visualization board is terrific. He also has a board for his own work, which I use a lot in my workshops because Jan Willem will often make static and interactive versions of his visualizations. That’s a great resource for classwork because you can show students the static version, ask them to imagine what an interactive might look like, and then show them what Jan Willem actually did.
- Giorgia Lupi’s Pinterest page. I know, heavy on Pinterest so far, but worth it. Giorgia’s page is the essence of design and inspiration. Also, I like the way most of her boards are labeled “inspirations from…”
- Visual Loop weekly roundups. I don’t know how Tiago Veloso does it, but he regularly puts out lists of great, great stuff. This recent one on interactive visualizations is gold.
- The Best American Infographics 2013 and 2014 books. Both are sitting on my shelf, so an easy resource to page through and find some of the better visualizations out there. (Let me just note that a few visualization from ESPN the Magazine appear in these books and even though I have a subscription to the magazine, I still couldn’t get those visualizations online. Bill Simmons, if you’re reading this, can you make a call or something?).
- Isabel Meirelles’ book, Design for Information, has lots of great examples.
- Andy Kirk’s data visualization roundups. He does these every 6 months or so, so it’s a good way to get good stuff.
- WTF Visualizations. When you need to show people garbage. Though you can pretty much do a Google search for “data visualization” or “infographic” and get pretty close.
- Twitter feeds. Lots of Twitter feeds to go through. Usually, I’ll just find the person’s profile and scan through the pictures. A few are worth paging through:
- Albert Cairo: Prolific Tweeter and recorder of visualizations (both good and bad).
- Conrad Hackett: Posts lots of smallish data sets with visualizations; good for class exercises.
- Nick Timiraos: Lots of economics graphs, many of them needing work; again, great for class.
- Others that fall into my general wheelhouse: World Economic Forum, US Department of Labor, US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, and the Center for Global Development, to name but a few.
- And, of course, the usual news suspects: 538, Vox, NYTimes, Washington Post, Guardian, etc.
I hope this was helpful. If you have some great resources, please put them in the comments below. I’m always looking for things to show, remake, play around with, and generally learn from.