Work through “Observe, Collect, Draw!” by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec with us

“Data has become a creative material like paint or paper”

data vis book club cover observe collect draw

We created the Data Vis Book Club to read & discuss data vis together in all its diversity. So after learning about millions of lives all over the world in Hans Rosling’s “Factfulness”, we’ll look at just one life next: Yours. Our summer/winter read will be “Observe, Collect, Draw! A visual journal” by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec.

We will discuss Observe, Collect, Draw on Tuesday, 20th of August at 5pm UTC here: notes.datawrapper.de/p/bookclub-journal. That’s 10am on the US west coast, 1pm on the US east coast, 6pm for readers in the UK & Portugal, 7pm for most other Europeans and 10.30pm in India.

I’m thrilled to announce that Stefanie & Giorgia will join the conversation as well, joining around 45min into the discussion and answering all our questions.

Like always, everyone is welcomed to join! Just open the notepad at the correct date + time and start typing. Many participants will be new to the conversation.

Should you read this book?

Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi are two information designer widely known for their project and book Dear Data. The idea: Explaining their lives to each other (and then thousands of readers) through the data lens. Through the hand-drawn data lens.

data vis book club cover observe collect draw

There’s something very powerful about drawing data points with a pen instead of a computer: We all can do it. We don’t get distracted by an app that’s just a click away. We spend time with every single data point. And the result looks like – well, as if it comes from a human, not a computer.

But I was skeptical when I got the book a few months ago. I was afraid it would go into the direction of these trendy coloring books.

Let me tell you: It is not. This book might not look like much, but going through the exercises will make you think – about yourself, about data vis, about design. I encourage you to get this book, especially if you’re convinced that you can’t draw. Stefanie and Giorgia gently introduce you to getting data on the paper with a pen. I haven’t yet seen better exercises than in this book to encourage people to lose the fear of a blank page.

Read “Observe, Collect, Draw” with us if you want to

  • experiment with showing data beyond bar charts
  • extend your understanding of what data (& data vis) can be
  • see your life & yourself in a different way, literally
  • create something in the coming two months that will make you happy & proud without getting stressed out

Don’t read “Observe, Collect, Draw” if you want to learn how to visualize data in a practical sense (tools, code, design rules). You won’t find this kind of information in there.

How does the book club work?

1. You get “Observe, Collect, Draw”. Ask your local library to order it for you (you can do the exercises in your own notebook), buy it, borrow it from a friend, ask around on your preferred social network.

2. We all read & do the exercises from the book. That’s where the fun begins! Please mention @datavisclub or use the hashtag #datavisclub if you want to share your process, insights, and surprises – I’ll make sure to tweet them out as @datavisclub, as motivation for us all. Also mention #DearData & #ObserveCollectDraw if you want to connect with other happy book owners.

3. We get together to talk about the book. This will happen digitally on Tuesday, 20th of August 2019 at 5pm UTC over at notes.datawrapper.de/p/bookclub-journal.

It won’t be a call or a video chat; we’ll just write down our thoughts. The discussion will be structured into three questions:

Three questions

During the conversation, I’ll ask these three questions in the following order:
1 What was your general impression of the book? Would you recommend working through it, and if so, to whom?
2 What was most inspiring, insightful or surprising while you worked through the book? What did you learn that you didn’t expect to?
3 Having read the book, what will you do differently the next time you visualize data?

For each question, you can prepare an answer in 1-2 sentences and paste it into the notes once I ask the question during the conversation. If you can’t find the time to prepare anything at all just come by and chat – we’ll quickly get into discussion mode.

After going through the three questions within ca 45min, Stefanie and Giorgia will join us to answer questions we might have about the book.


More questions?

Here’s a short FAQ for you, in case you have more questions:

So what will happen, exactly, during the book club?
A digital book club is a new experience for many of us. See how our book club discussions have looked like in the past:

You can also read the review of the first book club, to learn how people found the experience.

Why don’t we do a call? Why the notepad?
Because it works well for introverts & people who prefer to stay anonymous in the discussion. Plus, the documentation of our meeting writes itself.

I can’t make it on this date / this time.
Do you have a lunch date? Vacation? Need to bring the kids to bed? No problem! The conversation will be archived in the notes and can still be extended over the next day(s).

Will there be local meetups?
I’d be thrilled if you’d organize a meetup in your city! If you look for attendees, make sure to mention @datavisclub, and I’ll spread the word. However, I won’t organize a local meetup in Berlin this time.


I’m very, very much looking forward to working through “Observe, Collect, Draw!” with all of you. If you have any more questions, write in the comments, at [email protected] or to Lisa / the Datawrapper account on Twitter. Also, make sure to follow @datavisclub, to stay up-to-date and get a dose of motivation from time to time.

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