Data Viz Thoughts .|: Siroros Roongdonsai Interview & Pablo Gomez has our #VOTW

Adam Mico
Adam Mico
Dec 14, 2019 · 14 min read

A Tableau-centric weekly blog about the viz making process, #datafam member interviews, Viz of the Week, entertainment for introverts (consisting of a music morsel & a binge bite) + information and thoughts about presenting for UK Tableau’s Virtual TUG on 12/19.

Credits: Siroros Roongdonsai, Pablo Gomez and Kevin Flerlage

This week we feature an interview with Thailand’s Tableau Public Ambassador, Siroros Roongdonsai (@Roongdonsai) and I chat with London TUG Co-Leader, Pablo Gomez (@PabloLGomez) as he flourished a #MakeOverMonday viz… but before that, I need discuss the upcoming Virtual TUG presentation!

At 6:00 AM (Madison, Wisconsin time) on 12/19/19, I will be presenting live & sharing my community story with UK & the world. Here is the listing; please share and RSVP. Yes, it will be recorded if you can’t make it.

Being asked to participate in this event is the biggest (& unimaginable) honor and am ecstatic to share my story… even at that hour (adjust your headphones and speakers accordingly). The other participants include some my data and community idols.

Tableau Ambassador Sarah Bartlett (@sarahlovesdata) is a community hero who is a bit of everything and then some. When I was struggling to understand some bits of the community, she was there for me and helped (discretely) guide me — I know she does that for so many people. Back when I started, she was a big part of the MakeOverMonday crew and an omnipresent force. Not only is she a viz expert and a helpful #datafam friend, she is a great positive promoter of gender and racial diversity. Sarah is everything anyone could desire to be as a community member, mentor and data visualizer.

Zen Master Eva Murray (@TriMyData) runs the BrightTalk review and does a lot of the heavy lifting as a leader for MakeOverMonday. I came to appreciate her so much for what she stands for and how she doesn’t suffer fools — I’m in awe of her capacity to effectively manage work, public engagements, #MakeoverMonday and so many demands on her time. A myriad of women (and men) have gained significantly from her example, insight, influence and support.

Zen Master Hall of Famer Andy Kriebel (@VizWizBI) was the 1st person I ever followed in the Tableau world — well before I was part of any Tableau community; he was there giving me tips I could use to help solve problems at work (and give the illusion it was my brilliance) through his videos and blogging. Since joining the community, I’ve learned he is also a thoughtful member promoting ideals that help our #datafam blossom. This will be one of his last acts for #MakeOverMonday (as he is stepping aside, but will still be present as explained here) — he will have a suitable replacement with Charlie Hutcheson (@CharlieHTableau). (1)

Having a part to share with them in a yearly recap cannot really be quantified by me and may never be, but nevertheless… I’m thrilled, honored and humbled to share a virtual stage with my idols and absolute legends.

Feature Interview

Credit: Siroros Roondonsai (with Kevin Flerlage)

Siroros is a Tableau Public Ambassador from my 2nd Country, Thailand. She combines so much that’s great about our data community; she’s bright, fun, kind, humble, thoughtful and makes spectacular vizzes!

Adam Mico (AM): In Thailand, a lot of the focus is on entertainment, business management and food. What inspired you to get into data analytics?

Siroros Roongdonsai (SR): Actually, I completed a bachelor’s degree in General Business Management and had some elective courses in Finance. During the internship period, I had chance to intern in a Finance department. At that time, I did not feel like to work in this field, so I went to for a master’s degree in Management Information Systems. In fact, my concentration was much more related to system design, but I also studied Statistics. Before joining this course, I was not a Mathematics lover, but my lecturer was really excellent and made statistics seem simple. In addition, I also had workshops on Business Intelligence and free elective courses in Data Mining. I really enjoyed these courses and wanted to work in this field. Therefore, I decided to work in Data Analytics and this work is always fun. A massive load of data is waiting me to discover its insight! :) (2)

AM: What tools did you work with before utilizing Tableau?

SR: Tools depend on the company direction & management discretion. At my first company, I used a lot of Microsoft Excel to visualize the data, but for data mining and data preparation, we used SAS Enterprise Miner and SAS Enterprise Guide. For my second company, I used a lot of open sources like R, Python, Gephi, Power BI & Excel (for extension like power query).

AM: How were you introduced to Tableau and was it earth-shattering for you right away or was it a slow process to love the application?

SR: Tableau was like my love at the first sight. I first saw the demo from Tableau in Bangkok in 2013. The presenter did so well and made Tableau seem to be very easy for everyone.

Before Tableau, I used some BI tools during I studied before, but they were so complicated. They required deep understanding of IT and data modelling design (like designing the OLAP cubes). The back-end itself was also complicated and it was very hard to maintain. It is not like today’s modern/self-service analytics. In addition, I really love the way that Tableau designs — it can combine multiple views like adding a measurement in size and another measurement in color. Some tools require creating multiple charts to answer these types of business questions. However, after the demo , I still did not use Tableau until 2017; before I left the company, I wanted to sharpened my knowledge of data analytics by studying some online courses.

For the Tableau course, I used the free trial version which have only 14 days & I downloaded some visualizations and practiced. Unfortunately, I had not finished my course yet — I knew that Tableau provides a 1-year-free license for students, but I wasn’t a student and I wanted to continue my course. I sent an e-mail to the Tableau Team and they introduced me to Tableau Public. Thank God because I could continue my course. On Tableau Public, there are so many beautiful vizzes in their gallery that were really amazing and I realized Tableau can do many incredible things.

AM: What inspired you to create a Tableau Public account and please explain your 1st viz?

SR: My first viz is about expansion of Starbucks around the world. It was inspired by a TED talk The best stats you ever seen by Prof. Hans Rosling (3) and I knew that Tableau can do this too. I practice by using the page filtering with different dataset.

AM: Were you involved with the community right away or did that take time?

SR: After I created my Tableau Public Account, I had only 6 dashboards before I went back to work after taking break from work 5 months. After 8 months, I got an email from Tableau Public Team to be a Featured Author and my visualization , “GDP of Thailand” was selected as Viz of the Day! I was really excited… especially since I was the first Thai person who got this opportunity. As a Thai person, I really want to do my best and try to participate the community events as much as possible.

AM: How has the community helped your design and application of the tool?

SR: Community is very helpful on this, I have learned a lot from community. Some of my visualizations are inspired by many other people in the community. I really feel thankful to everyone in the community. Everyone is awesome!

AM: Are there a lot of Thai people using Tableau and/or in the community? What advice do you have for a Thai person who wants to be part of Tableau and its community.

SR: Yes. We do have a community. All Tableau events get many responses from Thai people. We do have a FaceBook group called Thailand Tableau User Group. However, one thing about Thai people is we love FaceBook more than Twitter and (we love Pepsi more than Coke, LOL). Before I joined the Tableau Community, I was not an active user on Twitter, but nowadays, I use Twitter a lot! Unfortunately, you will hardly see Thai People participate on Twitter, but every day we got a lot of new user posts in Tableau User Group Thailand. We have so many people to participate and share a lot of ideas there. Please feel free to join us too!

Before the event ends, I always promote the community activities. To start the being involved in the community, you don’t need anything so much, just wake up your twitter account or sign up the new one (if you haven’t had it yet), sign-up on a Tableau Public account and enjoy vizzing. That’s it! You might find something you like to visualize like your favorite sports, artists, or even rising awareness on social causes. Everyone can be the hero by your own talent too.

AM: You have been a Tableau Public Ambassador since 2018. How did you learn of earning that honor and how has that role impacted you?

SR: Well, being Tableau Public Ambassador totally changed my life. First of all, I would like to say thanks to all for the contacts, honors and all mentions in our social network. It means a lot to me and inspires me to do the great visualizations. I have so many friends on Twitter and LinkedIn, it would be great, if any one of my works inspire people or raises awareness to help more on our social issues. Having that platform has already become the wonderful gift for me. In terms of tangible benefits like money and job opportunity, I believe If you really a hard-working person and have outstanding portfolio, a lot of great opportunities will come to you. You will get a good chance to join interesting projects and get a job you like. I think this make your work life more value and enjoy working more; this is priceless. Thank you Tableau for these wonderful journeys!

AM: What types vizzes inspire you and who are your inspirations in the Tableau community?

SR: It is very hard to say since there are so many vizzes inspire me. After checking my favorite vizzes, I think all of them quite unique some of the use the extraordinary charts or different techniques to visualize. It inspires me to learn more. For the topics, environmental and social causes are really propelling and want me to use my ability to do something good through my visualizing.

There are so many inspirational people who drive me. I would like to special thanks Jacob Olsufka (@j_olsufka) and Ann Jackson (@AnnUJackson)for making a great and wonderful vizzes. I saw their vizzes on the gallery when I first started my Tableau public journey. Two of them are my first friends on LinkedIn. In addition, I feel really a lot of gratitude to the (Tableau) Twins, Ken (@flerlagekr) and Kevin Flerlage (@FlerlageKev)and #MakeOverMonday duo, Eva Murray and Andy Kriebel.

Ken and Kevin are so lovely and very supportive people. I have learnt a lot from both of them and appreciate for their time on sharing on their blogs and Tableau community. I had a chance to meet them at the Tableau Conference in November. They are so amazing and kind. Andy and Eva have given me such great feedback on #MakeOverMonday. I appreciated their time for sharing constructive comments and feedback (from Twitter and their viz review on BrightTalk). Their insight was the root of improvement. Thanks for being my wonderful coaches.

AM: Please explain your viz, “Food Equality” and why you feature that on your profile?

SR: This visualization I did for the competition by Human Resource Development:HDRO. The visualization topic is about the inequalities. I donated 5000 points to UNICEF thru answering the online questionnaire from Yougov every year. 5000 points can also exchange to other rewards such as airline points , 500 baht cash (Thai Currency)(4) on Paypal etc., but I chose to donate to UNICEF to buy food for kids, my 5000 points can make a person survive and save them from hunger for a week. I realize that we are so lucky to have a good food to eat and good place to sleep. While we are eating well and wasting some food, some people still don’t know how to survive until the next meal. Therefore, I selected the data from the world food program to present on this viz. I really did my best on this visualization and hope to remind myself and other people not to waste food.

AM: What are your personal goals in the next five years?

SR: In the next 5 years, I see myself having a lovely house with a small garden and no debt. If I do not get married, I might retire early since there is no worry about kids’ school or personal expenses, or I might be a teacher or working in and NGOs. It is really hard for me to plan. Normally, I have a yearly plan, but you will never what is going to happen, right? It is better to concentrate on the present, but with every step of life we have to step carefully.

AM: Please explain a silly thing you love that may be a little surprising, but you love it anyway.

SR: Hmmm... I have no ideas about this, but I could think of something. Some people do not know me well, they will not have no knowledge of my background like my jobs, education and etc. You could say that I look goofy + I am also a really silly person (hahaha). I always forget things, get lost, and etc. I could not see you even I wear my eyeglasses and you are standing in front of me (hahaha). Normally, I won’t talk about my personal background and always pretend like I am not paying attention, but I am a great observer. This has helped me to covertly scan or observe something very well and I really love it. You don’t need to be smart all the time, being open-minded without the ‘smart goggles’ on can sometimes help you see the world in the different angle too.

Viz of the Week

Credit: Pablo Gomez: ‘Biggest Fast Food Chains in America’

When I saw this viz and learned it came from a non-Tableau tool, I was curious. This visualization is beautiful and (even more than that) inspired me to use it myself. (5) This is the blog’s 1st non-Tableau Viz of the Week and Flourish Studio is great tool for those that want to make custom visualizations, but allergic to math — it is also a good preview for working with Tableau’s upcoming animations release (currently in beta for Version 2020.1).

Adam Mico (AM): The data set was slim, is your approach to slim data sets to flex creatively to show a unique visualization to highlight the data in a unique manner?

Pablo Gomez (PG): I believe that we can always tell a story even with the smallest dataset available. I remember once, during a workshop, I provided a dataset with only two records and waited to see the reaction of the attendees. Most of them struggled, but that was the challenge, to tell a story even if you have just two values.

AM: I noticed you used Flourish as the tool of choice for the visualization. Was this an out of the box visualization for the tool, or did you need to do a lot of tweaking? Please, if you can, how you chose Flourish for the visualization and whether this is a tool used before?

PG: Flourish is a fantastic tool and Duncan Clark and his team are doing an excellent job to make possible creating complex visualisations like radial charts, Sankey charts in an effortless and simple way. I have used this type of graph in Flourish before and when the dataset of MakeoverMonday Week 50 was out, I knew I wanted to use Flourish to create the viz. The only changes I made were mainly cosmetic as in changing fonts, colours and background.

AM: When developing the visualization, did you map out what you wanted to see ahead of time or did you develop the design as you went?

PG: As shown on previous posts on my blog Points of Viz, I always work on a base idea of how the viz should look like, what elements I have to incorporate, colours and typography to be used, etc. I plan and draft as much as I can the final visualisation and then I set to work on it to get as closer as I can to the original idea. You do have to be flexible though, as sometimes, good ideas and intentions are very difficult to achieve or do not work properly on your viz and that’s when you have to be flexible enough to explore other alternatives.

AM: There tends to be controversy regarding use of color (i.e. less is more). I really believe the use of color added to its attractiveness. Was that something that was something that you really considered before publishing and where do you normally stand on using colors in visualizations?

PG: As mentioned above, the use of colour and typography are extremely important on every viz. Some of my visualisations are monochromatic, others have little colour changes and others are very colourful. I think you have to consider the context of your visualisation and apply best practices on that context, audience and topic.

I love colours and keep a large colour palette library that can work on different occasions, but must also admit that sometimes, the use of less colour in the right context can generate a big impact on your visualisations.

Music Morsel

New Order — Blue Monday (Sebastian Böhm remix)

The trailer for Wonder Woman 1984 was released last week and wickedly boasted epic remix of New Order’s legendary Blue Monday by Sebastian Böhm.

Binge Bite

The Confession Killer on Netflix

This documentary series is absolutely fascinating. It’s obviously unnerving because we are dealing with a multiple murderer, but it explores the psychology of instant fame, the desire to create a positive outcome by any means necessary and the lengths people will go to pursue comfort in ‘knowing’ right now even if in the long-term it makes the problem significantly worse.

Footnotes:

1) To answer your question… there was no compensation exchanged for the flowery (and genuine) compliments.

2) To anyone reading, we are certifiable nerds… Siroros just summed up what nerding out is all about.

3) Check out that linked Ted Talk — it’s a great summary for his book Factfulness — if you want to learn more, snagging this book is your next act.

4) 500 Baht comes out to $16.55.

5) I found the tool to work very well and it took an hour from signing in to publishing the viz.

The purpose of the viz was to show top-20 artists from 1958–2019 as they weave in and out of the Top-15. Points were determined the following: 125 for a #1 single and each week in the Top-40, it was scored 100-[chart position] — this system effectively benefits those that spend a lot of weeks in the Top-40. One thing that interested me was the impact of streaming for Billboard Charts as it was accepted as a method to warrant position from 2005 — people these days can release entire album of singles in one week, which can significantly impact scoring.

Adam Mico

Written by

Adam Mico

Geeked out on data vizzes, music + pop culture. Views are very much my own. #DataVizThoughts

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