The Data Visualization Society’s First Trip Around the Sun

The DVS was founded one year ago today. Let’s take a data-viz look on what we’ve accomplished since then.

Amy Cesal
Amy Cesal
Feb 20 · 5 min read

Mollie Pettit, Elijah Meeks, and I (Amy Cesal) started this journey a year ago today. We thought maybe we would get 1,000 people interested within the first year. Instead, we have almost 12,000. Wow!

About our membership

We have grown to 11,600 members in the course of a year. We had a crazy surge of interest in the first couple weeks, but we’ve also had steady growth since.

Line graph of the increase in membership over the first year, a steady upward trend to 11,600
Line graph of the increase in membership over the first year, a steady upward trend to 11,600

Our membership is global. We have members from 133 countries and six continents (everywhere but Antarctica).

Map showing 113 countries highlighted with for having members, with the most in the USA followed by Canada, Mexico, Australia
Map showing 113 countries highlighted with for having members, with the most in the USA followed by Canada, Mexico, Australia

Many of our members are newcomers to the industry. The large majority of people have five or less years of experience in data visualization. This is perhaps unsurprising, as the prominence of data visualization has grown considerably in recent years.

Bar chart between 0 and 20 years with most bars clustered at 5 or below
Bar chart between 0 and 20 years with most bars clustered at 5 or below

We can break down experience level even further based on type of expertise using data collected from our membership survey. Our members self-report higher skills in data science, project management, design, and storytelling. Overall, we’re a community of mostly intermediate- and advanced-level practitioners. However, we have the fewest self-proclaimed experts in data collection; I guess data collection is just really hard for almost everyone.

9 bar charts with the skills relating to Data, Visualization, and Society from the membership survey.
9 bar charts with the skills relating to Data, Visualization, and Society from the membership survey.

In our first year:

In addition to the amazing membership growth over our first year, we’ve also been busy homing in on what DVS is all about. We are so grateful for everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible.

We are building the organizational infrastructure to help DVS be an organization that will outlast any one person or founder. Growing as a community and an organization requires a strong foundation.

To that end, we incorporated as a non-profit organization and are filing for our charitable status (501c3, for those in the US). We have an 11-person elected board of directors who manage the day-to-day work of the DVS who have donated more than an estimated 5,400 hours of volunteer time in this first year. In addition, we have over 100 committee members across 10 committees. We benefit from the wisdom of our eight-person advisory council. All these volunteers make it possible for us to accomplish more for the membership!

In creating our structure, we emphasized being inclusive of those early in their data viz careers and see the Data Visualization Society to their journey. We wanted to make sure to have the early-career voice represented on our board as well as in the community. To that end, we have two early-career board members, one early-career slack channel, and one monthly discussion focused on early-career questions (with more planned).

While establishing bylaws, creating a code of conduct, managing tax paperwork, and other minutiae may seem remarkably unexciting, these structures enable us to better form partnerships with organizations interested in supporting our mission and create new programs that our members have asked for.

We’ve published 217 articles (and counting) on our online journal, Nightingale, through Medium. We’ve paid authors, illustrators, and editors $22,200. If you are interested in contributing an article to the publication, get in touch.

We’ve gained a large social media following, in some cases larger than our membership. We’re reaching beyond just data visualization practitioners to people in other fields. Twitter: 17k followers | LinkedIn: 15.6k followers | Instagram: 8k followers | Medium: 7.8k followers.

Bar chart where twitter and LinkedIn followers are larger than the membership
Bar chart where twitter and LinkedIn followers are larger than the membership

We’ve used these platforms to engage with people inside and outside the membership about data visualization with 1,314 tweets (that’s more than 3 tweets a day). There are 85 Slack channels, such as #connect-freelance, #share-critique, #topic-historical-viz, #topic-diversity, and #location-africa. And we’ve had 199,825 total Slack messages sent. Think of all the connections made!

We’ve held six challenges, including the current challenge about our membership.

We’ve partnered with many organizations like DataVizLive and Encode to support the community and give discounts to members. There’s much more of this to come in the next year.

We’ve collected links to resources around data visualization that were previously scattered across the internet including:

But I’m sure we’ve missed a whole bunch, so continue to add them.

We still have more to do.

One of our main priorities is starting local affiliated groups that will host events and facilitate interaction between members.

We hear you that Slack is overwhelming (at least 20 survey responses mentioned it 😱) and we are creating a plan to DECREASE the number of Slack channels and add more structure.

We are proud, grateful, and amazed at what’s been accomplished in Year 1 of the DVS, but wow, we are so excited about what’s to come. For much of this year, we’ve focused on becoming an organization and building the infrastructure and processes to become sustainable. In Year 2, we are excited to take advantage of all that work and focus more on programming and outreach — to bring resources, new ideas, and opportunities to our members, and bring our members even closer together.

Nightingale. The journal of the Data Visualization Society
Nightingale. The journal of the Data Visualization Society

Nightingale

The Journal of the Data Visualization Society

Thanks to Isaac Levy-Rubinett and Mollie Pettit

Amy Cesal

Written by

Amy Cesal

Amy Cesal is a designer who specializes in data visualization

Nightingale

The Journal of the Data Visualization Society

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