February 19th, 2024
“…a journey into data visualization.”
Do you keep getting recommendations for data vis books, maybe even buying them, but then don’t make it a priority to read them? Let’s get more out of these books by reading and discussing them together in the Data Vis Book Club. Here’s what we’ll read next — join us!
We’re very excited to announce the next book for our book club. It’s a special one this time, because it’s written by a regular attendee of the Data Vis Book Club: Neil Richards’ “Questions in Data Viz!”
We’ll discuss Questions in Dataviz: A Design-Driven Process for Data Visualisation on Monday, January 29th at 5 p.m. UTC here: https://notes.datawrapper.de/p/questions-in-dataviz
That’s 9 a.m. on the U.S. West Coast; 11 a.m. in Chicago; 12 noon on the U.S. East Coast, Colombia, and Peru; 2 p.m. in Brazil and Argentina; 5 p.m. for readers in the U.K. and Portugal; 6 p.m. for most other Europeans; and 10:30 p.m. in India.
Neil Richards himself will join us around 45 minutes into the discussion to answer all our questions.
As always, everyone is welcome to join! Just open the notepad at the correct date and time and start typing. Many participants will be new to the conversation — we’ll figure it out as we go.
Neil Richards is known in the data vis scene for continuously experimenting with creative visualizations — but that wasn’t his original background at all. After spending 20 years in market research collecting, processing, and analyzing data, he got inspired by news graphics and books like “Information is Beautiful” by David McCandless and began to shift more and more into data vis and information design.
Neil started the blog Questions in Dataviz to document this journey, investigating questions like: Is white space always your friend? When are several visualizations better than one? How do you visualize music? The book we’re reading is the result of his search for answers.
“Questions in Dataviz” (the book!) is divided in three big sections. The first one explores important general data visualization principles; the second one covers more challenging and unusual topics, like “Why do we visualize data?” and “What is data humanism?” The last section has questions and answers related to creativity and out-of-the-box visualizations, like “Is it possible to tile the world?” and “What alternative ways are there to visualize timelines?”
If you want to learn data analysis or get clear do’s and don’ts for chart design, then this book might not be for you. But if you’ve already embarked on a journey into the world of data visualization and are running into questions about how to use shapes, colors, and other elements to make your visualizations more creative, then this book is the perfect resource. In Neil’s words, this is “ultimately a book for people […] who are looking for creative thought processes and ideas to take their visualizations to another creative level.”
1. You get yourself a copy of “Questions in Dataviz.” Ask your local library to order it for you, buy it, borrow it from a friend, ask around on your preferred social network.
2. We all read the book. This is where the fun begins! Please mention @datavisclub on X (Twitter) or use the hashtag #datavisclub if you want to share your process, insights, and surprises — I’ll make sure to tweet them out from @datavisclub as motivation for us all. Don’t worry if you don’t read every word on all 300 pages of the book! Start by reading the chapters that appeal the most to you and see how far you get.
3. We get together to talk about the book. This will happen digitally on Monday, January 29th at 5 p.m. UTC over at https://notes.datawrapper.de/p/questions-in-dataviz.
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:
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 it? To whom?
2. What was most inspiring, insightful, or surprising? What did you learn that you didn’t expect to?
3. Having read the book, what stuck with you — the thing you’ll pay attention to next time you’re creating a visualization?
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 we discuss these questions for about 45 minutes, Neil Richards will join us to answer questions about the book.
Here’s a short FAQ for you, in case you have more questions:
A digital book club is a new experience for many of us. See what 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.
This is what others have said about some of the last book club discussions:
Because it works well for introverts and for people who prefer to stay anonymous in the discussion. Plus, native English speakers have less of an advantage than they have in calls. Plus, the documentation of our meeting writes itself.
Do you have a lunch date? Vacation? Need to put the kids to bed? Need to sleep yourself? No problem! The conversation will be archived in the notes and can still be extended over the next day(s).
You can either subscribe to our Datawrapper Blog Update newsletter, turn on notifications for our Twitter account, or leave your Twitter handle in a list. I explain all three options in more detail here.
I’m looking forward to reading through “Questions in Dataviz” with all of you. If you have any questions, write them in the comments or send them to email@example.com or to Guillermina / Datawrapper on Twitter. Also, make sure to follow @datavisclub to stay up to date and get a dose of motivation from time to time. I’ll see you in January!