Striking the right balance between data and narrative.

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Narrative + Visuals = Engage Clear and concise communication along with impactful visualization draws the audience in and grabs their attention. This visual portrays the actions of staying nimble and thinking outside the box. It sets the tone for our story. Illustration by Veronika Hammond

Crafting a story around data may seem like an unnecessary, time consuming effort. The insights may seem sufficient to stand on their own but this is a flawed point of view. Our decisions are not based solely on logic. When you tell a story with data, you create a shared human experience. We tend to believe that numbers alone drives our decision making. Now more than ever a company’s survival will require disruptive change and that will call for inspiring employees and consumers to act in unfamiliar and untraditional ways. …


Creating Career Pathways Through Tech Apprenticeships

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The Domino Sugar Factory was one of several sugar factories located in Northern Brooklyn. Having once produced more than half the sugar consumed in the US in the early 20th century, this NYC landmark represents the industrial waterfront this area was. Photo: Paul Raphaelson

Addressing Racial Inequity Using Data

When I started writing this call to action at the beginning of 2020, I had no idea I would experience two life changing events. In fact, I don’t think that anyone thought that we would be navigating a global pandemic as well as long overdue talks on racism in America. While Covid-19 has us searching for a new normal, George Floyd’s murder has set off a resounding “We’ve had enough” across America. From policing, home ownership to healthcare and beyond, America has to face systematic racism that has disenfranchised Black people for centuries. Fortunately there are many people standing alongside Black Americans as allies in outrage with us. …


Debunking the Intuition/Analysis False Dichotomy

Picture of an engine and how the spark plug is important.
Picture of an engine and how the spark plug is important.
Ben Jones’ comparison of human intuition being a spark plug is a great metaphor. Spark plugs play an important role in how your car functions. Without properly working spark plugs, your car more than likely wouldn’t be able to run at all. Likewise, intuition is the spark plug that ultimately keeps your organization moving. Photo Credit: Cars 24

Ben Jones is the Founder and CEO of Data Literacy, LLC. He’s currently on a mission to help people speak the language of data. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him about data literacy several times since I’ve started my own mission. Ben Jones’ book Avoiding Data Pitfalls has been the guide we never realized how much we needed. Ben takes us through seven pitfalls when analyzing data and provides advice on how to navigate through them. Looking back at my own career, I recognize myself in the mistakes outlined. …


What a career journey looks like at the intersection of print and digital media.

Photo of Vince Dixon, Data Journalist
Photo of Vince Dixon, Data Journalist
Vince Dixon is a data visualization reporter at Eater where he works with storytellers to visualize data about food and the restaurant industry. He previously was a news applications fellow at ProPublica and holds a MS in Interactive Publishing from Northwestern University.

Vince Dixon is a self proclaimed “Story Craftsmen” who “tells real stories using reporting, code, data and visuals.” He’s currently a data visualization reporter at Eater and works with a team of storytellers to visualize data about food and the restaurant industry. As a digital media journalist he sits at the intersection of print and digital media sharing stories, ideas and information with mass audiences.

I had a chance to catch up with him and discuss his journalism career, a day in the life of NYC bike deliverers and his thoughts on what the restaurant scene will look like post COVID-19. …


Exploring America’s past and future metaphorically through dendrochronology

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Pedro Cruz and his colleagues from Northeastern University created a “dendrographic” that portrays the United States as a living organism that highlights its diversity. This visualization has won two awards at the 2018 Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards. It won gold in the People, Language & Identity category and the main prize for most beautiful visualization. Illustration — Northeastern University

The United States frequently dons the moniker “the melting pot” a name that is deep rooted in our history of immigration. As of late, there has been a resurgence in dialogue about the impact of immigration on our economy. This is a cyclical occurrence. This history and data has been visualized many times over. However, the most exciting approach to date can be found in the Kantar Information is Beautiful award winning “dendrographic” produced by Pedro Cruz, John Wihbey and their colleagues from Northeastern University.

Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss how the team used their metaphorical approach to deliver a visualization that portrays the country as a living organism while highlighting its diversity with Pedro Cruz, Assistant Professor at Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD). …


What coaching young soccer players taught a sales executive.

According to magazine, 95% of Fortune 500 CEO’s played college sports. These former student athletes bring leadership skills, honed from the playing field, to the workplace. Their training has conditioned them to recognize the importance of teamwork and setting goals as well as dealing with conflict and adversity. The story below shows how four companies navigated disruption. Some navigated the challenges well while others are on a redemption path. As you scroll through, make sure to take note of Pasquale De Tursi’s words of wisdom.

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Meet Pasquale — He is a sales executive who quarterbacks a client team to help enterprise businesses fight cyber-crime by providing products to help protect their data. When he’s not empowering his clients, he’s empowering young people through the “beautiful game” of soccer. Pasquale generously shared words of wisdom that can be universally applied to current and future roles.

“Football is also the school of life. It teaches you about hard work and being mindful of your surroundings.” …


The importance of tracing back where we came from to know where we are headed.

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The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade dashboard maps out the voyages of the slave trade that disrupted the lives of 12.5M enslaved African people over the course of 400 years. The author, Spencer Baucke, created it to challenge our perspective and understanding of ourselves and society.

Spencer Baucke recently created an interactive dashboard that maps out the tragic voyages of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Atlantic slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of enslaved African people, mainly to the Americas from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The vast majority of those who were enslaved and transported were people from Central and West Africa, who had been sold by other West Africans to Western European slave traders. A small number of slaves were captured directly by slave traders during coastal raids.

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Spencer Baucke is a consultant at Tessellation, a boutique analytics consultancy. He enjoys using data to help up better understand the world in which we live. While vacationing in Portugal, he was inspired to create the Trans-Atlantic dashboard.

It’s an understatement to say that Spencer’s dashboard caught my attention. Enthralled by this visualization for what it meant to me, personally, as both a Black American and data enthusiast, I reached out to him to discuss it. I had so many questions, starting with his motivation, process and the whole experience on an operational and emotional level. Spencer, a consultant at a boutique analytics consultancy, describes these past two years as a deep sea exploration of big data. He enjoys using data to help himself and others better understand the world in which we live. …


Flourish CEO talks about data journalism and new ways of telling stories with data

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Duncan Clark is the CEO of award-winning visualization studio Kiln which incubated Flourish. Duncan is passionate about data journalism and aspires for Flourish to enable his clients to create high-end visualizations.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with the co-founder and CEO of Flourish, Duncan Clark. Flourish is a self-service tool that allows non-coders to create high-end visualizations and stories. It was created when Clark and his co-founder CTO Robin Houston were working on multiple client projects at their award-winning visualization studio Kiln.

Duncan and Robin started working on visualization side projects for clients in 2012. Their first projects, such as the Carbon Map, generated a lot of interest, so they set up a visualization studio, Kiln. …


Lessons learned from a non-linear career journey

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Siddharth Dayama discusses data visualization and his “non-linear” career journey. One interesting thing I learned about Sid is that he takes flying lessons. He explains that cruising at 8,000 feet incites his love for geo-spatial mapping and that he gets some of his best visualization ideas after completing a lesson.

I recently had the opportunity to discuss data visualization with a former colleague, Siddharth Dayama, or Sid for short, Senior Manager at Verizon. Sid leads a team of analysts in building dashboard solutions that democratizes data in an intuitive and visual form for business leaders to consume. Sid’s artistic nature coupled with his unique perspective has given him the opportunity to present at the Tableau Conference in both 2018 and 2019. His advice and journey is inspiring as he hopes it will help both novices and veterans in data visualization.

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Getting Down to Business

Allen Hillery: Hey Sid! Good catching up with you! Can you give me an elevator pitch on what your team does and how Visual Analytics helps Verizon’s call center operations?


The CEO of analytics consultancy, BI Brainz reflects on her career path and how to help companies make sense of their data.

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Mico Yuk front and center leading a BI Brainz BI Storytelling Accelerator (3-day Live Workshop), VIP Customer Dinner | Sept 2019. Front Row: Brent Warren, Amy Ewing, Tamica Fraser (BI Brainz), Mico Yuk, Mary Ann Prunier Middle Row: Franco Becerril, Hunter Dumoulin, Savannah Entrekin (BI Brainz), Amanda Contella, Heather Sinkwitz Back Row: Rick Grantham (BI Brainz), Bjorn Johansson, Charles Reeves, Rowan Hinton (EPI-Use / BI Brainz)

About

Allen Hillery

Creating transcendent stories that share the importance of data narratives and how they impact our world. Twitter: @aldatavizguy

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