This is an email from The 'Gale, a newsletter by Nightingale.

The Post-Outlier Edition

Write up your Outlier talk! Plus, three questions with Eli Holder and an introduction to the Nightingale editors

Claire Santoro
Feb 11 · 6 min read

So, what was everyone’s favorite Outlier session? Hard to choose, right? The Nightingale team may be divided on our favorite sessions, but we are unanimous in our appreciation for the speakers, organizers, volunteers, and attendees who helped make the event a HUGE success and so much fun.

Oh, and in case you missed it, Nightingale shared a rather big announcement ourselves: we are expanding into print!

We are still in the early stages of planning, so if you are interested in exploring the possibilities with us, get in touch: Advertising, supporting, editorial, design, distribution — we’re going to need a lot of help.

Write All About It!

Did you present at Outlier? Did you lead an insightful unconf discussion? Turn your Outlier content into a Nightingale article! We would love to pair the session recordings (to be released in a few weeks) with accompanying articles. You already have your slides, notes, etc. — consider adapting them into an article to keep the learning going.

Three Questions with…Eli Holder

On our long list of favorite Outlier moments was the opportunity to turn our “Three Questions with…” segment into a gameshow. A huge thank you to Shirley Wu, Nadieh Bremer, Catherine D’Ignazio, Lauren Klein, Will Chase, and Gabrielle Merite for being “game” for our game!

Unfortunately we can’t cue up 1960s gameshow music in this written format, so you’ll just have to sing to yourself as you read the responses from Eli Holder below.

Eli Holder is principal of 3iap (3 is a pattern), where he helps clients design and develop effective interfaces between busy people and their messy data. On the side, Eli builds silly things like Haiku Datasets, Caffeine Simulators and Dataviz Experiments. You can follow Eli on Twitter or Medium. He’s written several articles for Nightingale.

“Good Dashboards Inform. Great Dashboards Align.”

1. If you could be any type of chart, what would you be?

I’d be a Nigel Holmes visual pun, because chuckles are the surest path to changing minds. Even great data falls flat without a receptive audience (esp. now that the most important issues are so polarized). But as a chuckle-worthy, illustrated chart, I’d be able to disarm my viewers and perhaps actually change some minds.

2. If you were stuck on a desert island, what viz would you want to create and what would you use to make it?

I’m going to assume that by “stuck” you mean “glamping” and by “desert island” you mean “tropical and remote, but near a liquor store.” In which case I’d like to thoroughly explore the proper ratio of ice / tequila / lime in a 13 oz. blended margarita. I’d assume a minimum of 1 oz. of each ingredient per drink, but would otherwise vary each ingredient by 1 oz. per trial. I suspect the 10 oz. tequila days will be slow going, but I think I could cover all possible combinations within ~30 days (at which point I’d introduce tequila brand as the 4th dimension, and may need another 300–600 days to complete this experiment). I’d visualize this using the “Oriented Slivers” technique (see below for detail), where the x-dimension is # oz. of tequila, Y is # oz. of “mix” and I’d overlay boundaries for taste and melt-time maxima.

3. What is one visualization that has inspired you?

When I was in college one of my advisors did incredible research in scientific visualization. Before meetings I’d wait across from his office and stare at the screenshots he posted on his office door. I still think about one of those posters today, ~15 years later… It was from this paper: “Oriented Sliver Textures: A Technique for Local Value Estimation of Multiple Scalar Fields.”

It’s a way to visualize overlapping areas of different dimensions of a dataset without sacrificing the ability to tell them apart. Instead of assigning different visual cues to each dimension (e.g., dimension 1 is color, dimension 2 is opacity, dimension 3 is brightness), each dimension is represented as a different orientation of a common texture. It affords a ton of density without overwhelming the user with discordant clutter.

Eight individual layers (a) are blended into single images (b and c):

It’s sometimes easy to get tunnel vision around the classic Cleveland/McGill encodings (e.g., position, volume, orientation, color, etc.), but thinking back to the Sliver Textures viz reminds me that the field is still (relatively) new and there are certainly still elegant, simple representations yet to be discovered.

Meet the Editors

Ever wondered who’s working behind the scenes to get your articles ready for publication at Nightingale? Over the next few issues of The ‘Gale, we’ll be introducing you to our editorial team. We’re the ones encouraging you to write that article you’ve always dreamed of writing, urging you to add more detail to your discussion, and fixing pesky stray commas.

To keep things fun (always a goal at Nightingale!), we will be introducing ourselves with Two Truths and a Lie. Which of these fun “facts” is not true? Read to the end of this issue to find out.

Editor portraits were drawn by Yifan Luo.

Jason Forrest, Editor-in-Chief

Jason is a dataviz designer, father, and history obsessive.

Two truths and a lie:

  1. I once had a machine gun brandished at me by the Russian military.
  2. I have performed on six continents.
  3. I own over a thousand dataviz books.

Mary Aviles, Managing Editor

Mary is a multi-sector human experience strategist, researcher, and sense maker. Check out her website and connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Two truths and a lie:

  1. I love to snowshoe in the woods and on frozen lakes.
  2. Heidi Klum asked me for my opinion on her autobiography on a flight back from St. Maarten when I got upgraded to first class.
  3. I have interviewed ALL kinds of people, including data security professionals from the FBI, the DOD, and the NSA.

In Case You Missed It

Demystifying Vaccination Metrics

Vaccine trackers that focus on the cheery cumulative climb of the ‘doses administered’ curve tell an incomplete story. Amanda Makulec offers nine considerations when reading or creating charts of COVID-19 vaccination data.

Original graphics by author, with design input on color palette from Steve Wexler (

Data Visualization in Parasite

The cover design of Parasite’s Criterion Collection edition inspired Javier Sanchez Gutierrez to explore data visualization’s contribution to film fandom. He illustrates this data storytelling method with a fascinating floor map that visualizes social inequities addressed in the film.

The SVG floor map layout that the author created for the visualization.

More from Nightingale

Data for Good: Why Non-Profits Should Think More about Dataviz

Data Visualization as Grief

Earth at a Cute Angle

What Would Have Been

The Color Theory of Nail Polish Names

Understanding Map Projections

Create User-Input Variables in Power BI for Workforce Planning

Hexes, Tiles, and Districts

I Had a Chat with Alberto Cairo before Giving a Talk, Here’s What He Told Me

From Triad to Qualitative

Meet the Editors: Answers

Which of the three fun “facts” were actually lies? Jason: #3, Mary: #2.

Please note that we are shifting our publication schedule for The ‘Gale to once monthly. See you next on March 11th!


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