The articles I’ve chosen as my favourites this month are quite a mixture – and start with one which was actually someone else’s choice.

Endangered animals

Here at Capgemini, a couple of weeks ago we had a visit from Tableau, one of the leading providers of data visualisation software and they told us their favourite amongst all of the visualisations which have been created and selected for their “Viz of the Day” blog over the months.

The example that they chose is a view of endangered animals across Africa. Selecting any of the animal silhouettes changes a map which shows where the remaining animals of that type are to be found. I’m not sure that I would have chosen this example myself (I’m never keen on data visualisations which use red and green to communicate), although I do like the interactivity and the effort that has gone into the research and creation of the finished article.

Trading animals

On the subject of animals – and of chart types I wouldn’t normally pick as favourite – my next selection is an intriguing bubble chart showing how different types of animals are traded globally
At the top level of animal classes, this bubble chart shows very clearly that Reptiles are traded far more than any other kind of animal. Within Reptiles, Alligators and Crocodiles and within Alligators and Crocodiles, the American Alligator. I think the reason that a bubble chart works in this instance is that there isn’t much interest in the reader for specific information, only for an overview, a generalisation, a view of where the biggest trade is.
It’s easy to navigate up and down through the animal classes.


Back to Tableau, at the workshop we had, several of my team said that they hadn’t been aware of its story-telling feature, which is an aspect I like myself. I’ve been enjoying (as I’ve said here before), both Dear Data and Dear Data Two, where data visualisation journalists are picking an aspect of their lives each week and then writing them down on a postcard and sending them to one another.
Andy Kriebel of Dear Data Two also presents his findings as a Tableau storyboard and last week’s was a nicely structured story around what he had to drink all week. The week before he examined his family and how they play various sports.

Machine Learning

Another article I liked very much this month, is a story in a different format. This one is all on one web page, you need to scroll from section to section. It’s a highly visual description of how machines learn, showing how they are dependent on the rules and information provided to them and how the user still has a vital role to play in giving the machine enough decision points to classify objects / customers whilst not giving so many that the only data which can be classified by the chosen rules is the data the machine was trained on.


Finally, because I like it … look at all the different Android devices there are!

I like how different views give you successively more information and the very clear contrast with Apple devices. This is a definite challenge to the data visualiser wanting their creation to be viewed on any and all devices.