• Quotes poster updates

    February 4, 2014  |  Announcements

    For those who ordered a famous quotes poster: I'll be updating the printing and shipping status on this page.

    I sent the poster to the printers on Friday, approved the digital proof yesterday, and the posters might be printing as I'm writing this. I still expect to start mailing to you in the middle of this month, assuming posters and (a lot of) shipping supplies are in my hands as scheduled. Thanks!

    For those who did not order a poster but still want one: It's not too late.

  • New members perk: Download all tutorials as ebook

    January 3, 2014  |  Announcements

    FlowingData TutorialsThe great thing about online tutorials is that you can access them from anywhere you have an internet connection. The downside is that, unless you download all of the tutorials individually (and their code), you can't access them when you don't have an internet connection.

    So I saved you the trouble, and members can now download all the FlowingData tutorials as a DRM-free ebook for their iOS device (.epub), Kindle (.mobi), or any other digital device (.pdf). You can also get all the code at once in a single zipped file.

    Just go to the members-only downloads page to grab the files you want.

    I'll update the ebook each year.

    Of course if you're not a member yet, you're more than welcome to sign up for instant access.

  • Happy holidays

    December 24, 2013  |  Personal

    Happy Holidays from FlowingData

    Checking out for the year. I assume most of you have already, and if not, go on, get out of here. Shoo. Happy holidays. I tip my glass in your general direction.

  • My data point

    October 17, 2013  |  Personal


    It's been continuous tracking and monitoring for the past couple of days and nights, but none of that matters now. We get to bring him home today.

  • Data point on the way

    October 4, 2013  |  Personal

    I'm at an age where my feed is filled with data points. Every day my friends post about their data points, how precious their data points are, and all the peculiarities of their data points. Even though there are hundreds of thousands of data points that pop up every day, each one is a gift that can be compared to nothing and no one else. At the most superficial level, yes, they are easy to compare, but once you look to the details — a wink, a smirk, a bobble — you see individuals, and that's where we seem to find the most joy.

    I'll let you know in a few weeks.

    My wife just went on maternity leave, in preparation for our very own data point.

    It's our first, so I'm not sure how this works, but something tells me I'll be busier and maybe more tired than usual. I hope to keep FlowingData running, as if nothing changed, but in case you don't hear from me for a few days, you'll know why.

  • Introducing the FlowingData Job Board

    August 20, 2013  |  Announcements

    If my inbox has taught me anything, it's that there are a lot of data job openings, and there are a lot of qualified people for these jobs. The FlowingData Job Board is a place where companies with the former can reach the latter and where those looking for a job can easily find what's available.

    The ideal jobs will be in statistics, data science, visualization, and design, and you can post different job types, from freelance up to full-time. In addition to the board, listings will also appear on FlowingData.

    I used to have a forum for this, and it was by far the most active section, but it was spam-challenged and the quality was lacking sometimes. I hope this format lends itself to higher quality listings.

    The introductory price for a 30-day listing is $49.

    Post a job today. Let's see where this goes.

  • Six

    July 1, 2013  |  Announcements

    FlowingData turned six years old last week. I didn't realize it until after though as I flipped through my calendar. I missed its birthday last year too, and to my surprise, the last time I remembered was its third year. I suddenly feel like a parent who's forgotten his child's birthday. I don't feel that bad though, because well, it's a blog, not a human being. If anything it's an extension of me, and I lost track of my age a couple of years ago.

    Still though, six years is a long time on the internet.

    FlowingData started as a personal site to document projects related to my early-stage research and then grew into something more. Somewhere along the timeline and over 3,000 posts and a couple of books later, it became my full-time job, which is pretty cool. The internet is awesome.

    Thanks to all the sponsors over the years who helped me pay for the ever-increasing hosting bills, and a big thank you to everyone who reads and shares. And of course, thank you to those who bought books and became members. Your support is huge.

    This year on FlowingData will be different from all other years of its existence, because it will be the first year that I don't have to work on my dissertation. With these new found hours in the day, in addition to more tutorials for members, I hope to spend more time with analysis on interesting datasets and to improve my visualization skills, especially of the interactive variety. Hopefully that transfers to more interesting stuff here on FlowingData.

    Six good years. The best years are ahead.

  • Comment to win a signed copy of Data Points

    June 4, 2013  |  Contests

    Data Points: Visualization that Means SomethingIt seems like ages since we ran one of these.

    It's hard to believe Data Points hit the shelves two months ago. (Thank you to everyone who got a copy!) It still feels brand new in my head. I kind of thought that time would slow down after I finished the book (and dissertation), but it seems to be moving even faster now.

    Anyways, if you'd like a chance to win a copy of Data Points blemished by my signature, leave a comment below by Wednesday, June 5, 2013 11:59pm PST. Tell us what your favorite number is and why. One entry per person please. I'll pick a winner at random via sample() in R. Good luck.

    And of course, if you can't wait, have never been lucky at cards, or want a blemish-free version of the book, you can get it at online and physical bookstores everywhere.

  • I am away from my computer right now. brb.

    April 8, 2013  |  Announcements

    I'm gonna be out of the country for a while. If all goes according to plan, you won't notice I'm gone, but if it gets quiet all of a sudden you'll know why. Comments will be off. I also won't be very good with email during this time. Not that I was good with it to begin with.


  • Other ways to follow FlowingData

    March 14, 2013  |  Announcements

    With Google Reader closing its doors in July (which stinks because I use it multiple times per day), now is a good time to make a switch.

    For those who want to stick with RSS, you can grab the feed here. Note the change in feed URL. I used to use a service called Feedburner to deliver the RSS, but that's owned by Google, too, so it's probably best to move away from there.

    Then of course you can follow @flowingdata on Twitter.

    Or Facebook.

    Or Google+.

    Or via daily or weekly email.

  • Starting a New Stack

    February 21, 2013  |  Personal

    There's a corner of my desk reserved for books, notes, papers, and other things I am supposed to read or have written and need to rewrite. Each project I work on gets its own stack. But there is limited space on my desk, and if I have too many stacks going at once, everything starts to jumble into one big pile. So I try not to work on too many things in parallel.

    There are typically two stacks at any given time: one for books or random projects and the other for my dissertation. The former changes often and was recently cleared on the completion of the Data Points manuscript, and the latter has been persistent for several years.

    But I'm happy to finally say that now there are zero stacks.

    I'm finally done. I'm officially Dr. Nathan Yau, Ph.D. (but you can still call me Nathan).

    It feels weird to say that — like how I imagine lottery winners feel, suddenly being able to say they're millionaires. It's surreal at first, but once it sinks in, the sun shines brighter, food tastes better, and the feeling of possibilities rushes through your veins.

    I've been asked if I would do it again knowing what I know now. After all, it took me over seven years to finish. To be honest, there were many times I wanted to quit, but now that I'm done, I can say that I would do it all again. I wouldn't do it just for the degree though. Rather I would do it for what came from going through the process: this blog, two books, countless learning experiences in school and through it, and a perspective on work that I wouldn't have gotten from anything else.

    Most importantly, I found what I like to do. It's awesome.

    So now it's time for a new stack. I'm excited about what it might be.

  • I’m Back

    May 30, 2012  |  Announcements

    After a couple of weeks of phone-only Internet, I've got my hands on a keyboard again and I'm looking at a screen bigger than four inches. It feels strange, but it's good to be back.

    My many thanks to Kim for holding down the fort while I'm gone. Be sure to follow her at @krees and check out Periscopic for your information visualization needs.

    So what'd I miss?

  • Welcome Kim Rees

    May 15, 2012  |  Announcements

    I'm going to be away for a couple of weeks, with little to no Internet access most of the time, so I've asked Kim Rees to step in while I'm gone. She's the co-founder of Periscopic, one of my favorite information visualization firms, and she was the technical editor for Visualize This. You're in good hands.

    You can follow her at @krees.

    Be good, and see you all when I get back.

    She's all yours, Kim.

  • Introducing FlowingData Membership

    January 5, 2012  |  Announcements

    It was about five years ago when I got into visualization. Before I actually made anything, I read books and guides that made suggestions and preached a handful of design principles, but when it was time to make a data graphic for publication, I didn't know what I was doing. Theory is great. Being able to apply it to your own data is better.

    Back then — which seems like forever but isn't actually that long ago — there weren't many practical tutorials or books on how to visualize data. Visualize This is the book I wish I had when I was starting out. A steady foundation and an introduction to what's out there, written to my old self.

    There's still so much more to visualization though. There are different points of view to explore, new software and methods to try, and growing data sources to play with.

    That's where FlowingData memberships come in. Having great sponsors lets me write tutorials and longer articles occasionally, but memberships will allow me to write more and perhaps bring in others' expertise from time to time.

    Here's what you get with FlowingData membership:

    • Monthly Tutorials: How to make and design publication-level data graphics.
    • Downloads: Source code and files to use with your own data.
    • Guides and Resources: Design principles and the best places to learn them.
    • Curated Links: Hand-picked links from around the Web that focus on the how of visualization.

    Those who have Visualize This will recognize the style of the guides and tutorials (first members-only tutorial coming soon after this post). You can also check out past tutorials for a taste. Long-time readers will notice a new layout that's easier to follow, and writing online lends itself better to more code-heavy projects.

    All this for the introductory price of $25 per year — less than a coffee a month. I'll also throw in a warm, fuzzy feeling from directly supporting an independent FlowingData. Your support helps ensure that the lights stay on, hopefully for years to come.

    Become a member.

    UPDATE: Paypal is acting up. Looking into it now.

    UPDATE 2: Seems to be going okay again. It might take a couple of tries due to your awesomeness.

    UPDATE 3: I think most of the kinks have been ironed out, but if you can't log in for some reason, please email me at nathan [at] flowingdata [dot] com. Thanks for the support, everyone.

  • Merry Christmas to you, from FlowingData

    December 23, 2011  |  Announcements


    Thanks for making this a memorable year, everyone. Happy holidays!

  • Visiting Census

    August 14, 2011  |  Announcements

    I'm visiting the US Census Bureau this week, so there's a good chance there will be a few days I don't post anything. Hopefully not though. I have a couple of things scheduled. But in case I go radio silent for a few days, you'll know why. It'll be back to normal next week.

  • Send your pictures of Visualize This in the wild (and win a goodie)

    August 9, 2011  |  Contests

    One of the best parts since the launch of Visualize This has been the pictures that people have sent me of the book in the wild. It makes it feel all the more real.

    To have some fun with it, let's have a little contest. Take a picture of the book in your hands, on your desk, or wherever you like really, and send it to [email protected] by this Friday, August 12, 2011. If you have a digital version, feel free to take a picture of your iPad or Kindle with the book open. I'll put all the pics together in a mosaic or something.

    Then I'll choose five winners at random, and you can pick any print book you like from the Wiley Tech library (minus box sets). Good luck!

  • Flowing Datathon updates

    August 2, 2011  |  Announcements

    Many of you now have Visualize This in your hands and have probably gone through a number of tutorials. Now it's time to put what you've learned into practice. I'm fleshing out the details of a Flowing Datathon. I don't know what it'll be like yet — other than it'll involve an interesting dataset over 24 hours and some prizes (and of course, fun) — but if you'd like to keep up-to-date either to get involved or watch, I've set up an email list.

    Sign up here.

    Oh, and if you have ideas for what would make the event special awesome, feel free to leave your suggestion in the comments.

  • Challenge: Visualize the impact of Wikipedia

    July 14, 2011  |  Contests

    If you're like me, you've probably used Wikipedia at least once in the past week (or day... or hour). It's had a huge impact on how we find information and keep history up-to-date. The online encyclopedia turned 10 this year, and to celebrate, WikiSym and the Wikimedia foundation recently launched a challenge: WikiViz 2011.

    WikiViz 2011 is about visualizing the impact of Wikipedia. We want to see the most effective, compelling and creative data-driven visualizations of how Wikipedia impacted the world with its content, culture and open collaboration model. Potential topics include: the imprint of Wikipedia on knowledge sharing and access to information; its impact on literacy and education, journalism and research; on the functioning of scientific and cultural organizations and businesses, as well as the daily life of individuals around the world.

    There are lots of small datasets within Wikipedia articles, but Wikipedia itself is also one giant (open) dataset. For example, we've seen the history of the world according to tagged events as well as back and forth discussions for deletion.

    Can you find something good? Judged by Moritz Stefaner, Andrew Vande Moere, and Kim Rees, among others, winners get to attend WikiSym on the house and of course get a mention or two.

  • Visualization contests around the corner

    May 25, 2011  |  Contests

    The best way to learn how to visualize data is to grab a dataset and see what you can do with it. You can read as many tips and tricks as you want, but you're not going to get any better until you actually try. Contests are a fun way to do this.


    So here are a handful of visualization contests to get your hands dirty. Hey you might even win a couple of thousand dollars. Not that money matters to you, because as well all know, learning is your reward.

    Hacking Education — A contest for developers and data crunchers. DonorsChoose.org has inspired $80 million in giving from 400,000 donors, helping 165,000 teachers at 43,000 schools, and the donation site has opened up this data. Can do you do something with it? Deadline: June 30, 2011.

    Data In Sight — A hands-on competition in San Francisco's SoMa district with surprise data sources. Some talks, lunch, dinner, and a 24-hour hackathon. Event date: June 24, 2011 (better to register your team early).

    Tableau Interactive Viz Contest — This one is coming up the quickest, but is the most straightforward. Plus, you get a t-shirt just for entering. Grab some business, finance, or real estate data and go to town with Tableau Public. Deadline: June 3, 2011.

    Know of any other data/visualization contests coming up? Let us know in the comments.

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