There is an incredible amount of information on data visualization available on the internet today. The dataviz community is, for the most part, extremely welcoming to others interested in the practice and forthcoming on techniques and technologies. Unfortunately much of this information and community is splayed across the internet. There is no central directory for new projects, criticism, making-of stories, or news relevant to our growing industry.
Recently LayerVault helped fill the same niche in the designer community with Designer News. It now shares it’s place in my daily surfing, and it’s made me realize the benefits of having a central place to share and discuss things relevant to our industry.
Right now staying up-to-date on new dataviz project releases, new tutorials posted, and the general best practices discussions and wisdom/link-sharing on Twitter is a lot of work. It requires following the right people, and following the threads of the discussion. But it’s necessary to stay up-to-date.
I’ve frequently been in the middle of a conversation with an intelligent tech-savvy hacker news reader who wishes for a visualization of a particular dataset, or is curious how one was made, and I can point them at exactly what they were looking for. But they had no idea it existed, because they just don’t follow the right people on Twitter, or don’t have the right blogs in their RSS reader. They want another central site to check, not 50 people that I suggest they follow.
There have always been great discussions in the comments of blog posts about dataviz, I have often been surprised at how constructive and positive they are. There’s nothing wrong with those discussions happening on individual blogs, but it also makes it hard to find. There should be an impartial, ad-free directory that tightly focuses on discussion around an industry. I can’t think of a better model than Hacker News.
Data Driven News
It seems like the best candidate to solve this is the new Data Driven News which was released by Bryan Connor of the excellent dataviz criticism blog The Why Axis. It’s still a work-in-progress, but a project like this can only be successful if it’s embraced by the community.
I think we need to acknowledge our need for a central resource. But not just for us, the practitioners and discussion-holders. For those who want to join us. For those who want to jump in.
We should try to be more open, talk to each other even more, and have a central focus of discussing and critiquing each other’s work in this growing field, and avoid doing that across blog posts and Twitter conversations and embrace the useful format that the startup and design communities have discovered.