• 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.

  • Friday freebies: Comment to win a copy of R Cookbook – winners announced

    May 6, 2011  |  Contests

    Want a free copy of R Cookbook by Paul Teetor? You're in luck, because I have four copies to give away, generously provided by O'Reilly. In case you're unfamiliar, here's my review for some background. Bottom line: It's a fine addition to the O'Reilly series of cookbooks.

    How to Win

    You know the drill. Simply leave a comment on this post by Sunday, March 8 at 11pm PST. This time around, let's go with... your favorite number. Yeah, tell me what your favorite number is. Then I'll choose four winners at random on Monday.

    Obviously make sure you use a valid email address, and only one entry per person please. Good luck!

    Update: Winners announced! You should have received an email if you were picked. Thanks for participating, everyone.

  • Comment to win a free HistoryShots print – winners announced

    March 24, 2011  |  Contests

    HistoryShots pop rock

    Happy Friday, everyone. Leading into the weekend, HistoryShots has kindly put three prints up for grabs to decorate that plain wall of yours with data and information. HistoryShots has been around for a while, but in case you're not familiar, they "create elegant graphics and diagrammatic art that visually tell stories about subjects, time periods and events." Some are vintage reprints from the 1800s and others are original designs.

    How do you win a free print? Go to the HistoryShots list of available prints, and then come back here and leave a comment saying which one you want by Sunday, March 27 at 10pm. I'll pick three winners at random. Good luck!

    Update: Winners picked. If you won, you've received an email from me. Thanks for entering!

  • Friday freebies: Visual history posters from Timeplots – winners announced

    March 4, 2011  |  Contests

    Visual History of Senate

    It's Friday, and the weekend's staring you in the face. You look like you need some free stuff. Timeplots has kindly put up three visual history prints up for grabs. In case you're not familiar, Timeplots takes complex history stories, like the American presidency or the changing nature of the Senate, and puts them in visual form.
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  • Comment to win free registration for Strata data conference – winner announced

    January 27, 2011  |  Contests

    Okay, I sort of dropped the ball on this one. I have a free pass up for grabs to the O'Reilly Strata Conference next week, February 1 to 3. Here's the short description:

    Unprecedented computing power and connectivity are bringing new layers of experience to our lives in how we manage and present data sets of all sizes.

    Throughout three days of training, breakout sessions, and plenary discussions, O'Reilly Strata connects the decision-makers, practitioners, and leading vendors from enterprise and the web who are at the leading edge of this space. Topics include data science, acquisition, organization, machine learning, visualization, and more.

    Want to win the free pass? Leave a comment below by Friday, January 28, 2011 at 7pm PST. Tell us what super power you'd want if you could only pick one. I'll pick a comment randomly and email you the discount code. Please only enter if you know you can attend February 1-3 in Santa Clara, California. I'd hate the pass to go to waste.

    If you don't want to leave it up to the randomized gods and just want to register now, it's not too late to do that either. You can register here and get a 25% discount. The program looks like it'll be a good one.

    Update: Congrats to Tyson! "I’d like to fly"

  • Comment to win a copy of Data Analysis with Open Source Tools – winner announced

    January 7, 2011  |  Contests

    Looking to get more serious about your data analysis? Data Analysis with Open Source Tools by Philip K. Janert can help you with that.

    The back cover reads:

    Collecting data is relatively easy, but turning raw information into something useful requires that you know how to extract precisely what you need. With this insightful book, intermediate to experienced programmers interested in data analysis will learn techniques for working with data in a business environment. You'll learn how to look at data to discover what it contains, how to capture those ideas in conceptual models, and then feed your understanding back into the organization through business plans, metrics dashboards, and other applications.

    It's a little over 500 pages and thorough about describing how to analyze your data. However, it is light in the "with open source tools" part of the title. Most of the time is spent explaining concepts, and then each chapter ends with a workshop, which includes some code. There are examples throughout, but few provide an explanation of how a plot was made or the implementation of a method. So definitely not a book for beginners.
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  • Merry Christmas from FlowingData

    December 24, 2010  |  Announcements

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thanks for a great year, everyone.

    Merry Christmas and happy new year! As usual, don't forget to eat lots. That's the only way to roll during the holidays.

  • Join FlowingData fantasy basketball pool

    October 24, 2010  |  Announcements

    The basketball season is going to start soon (finally). To make the season more interesting, I'm starting a FlowingData fantasy basketball pool, and you're invited. It's a combination of data and basketball. Pure awesomeness.

    It's a $20 chip-in, and winner takes all. Want to join in on the fun? Just email me with "I'm in" in the subject header, and I'll send over the info. We need at least 10 teams, and the maximum is 20, so the earlier you reply, the better. Let the games begin!

  • Challenge: Advertised vs. actual waistline

    September 30, 2010  |  Contests, Statistical Visualization

    waistline measurement chart for men

    Ever notice how pants seem to fit differently from store-to-store even though they're labeled as the same size? Why does the 36-inch at Old Navy feel kind of loose but the same size at The Gap feels like you had too many fries at lunch? Here's your answer from the Esquire Style blog. The actual size (from this über-scientific study, I am sure) tends to be bigger than the size as advertised. A 36-inch waistline actually means 41 inches in Old Navy units.
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  • your.flowingdata Users: Help Wanted. Five minutes of your time

    September 23, 2010  |  Announcements

    As many of you know, your.flowingdata, an application to help you collect data about yourself via Twitter, has been running for a while now. Some of you have been using it regularly; while others have stopped by every now and then. Whether you are frequent or infrequent user, we would like your help in understanding which visualization tools work best and to analyze your usage to help us improve the system.

    Your participation in the study will only take about 5 minutes of your time. It will involve taking a brief survey to answer 8 questions.

    If you are interested in participating, please click on the link below to log in to your.flowingdata and then click on the study invite link at top of the page to get started. Thank you for your interest!

    If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]

    Log in to your.flowingdata

  • Comment to win a graphic guide to coffee drinks (poster) – winner announced

    August 19, 2010  |  Contests

    The Perfect Pour - Guide to Coffee Drinks

    We saw this handy dandy coffee guide by Plaid Creative a while back. Oh so clean. Oh so informative. The world of fancy pants coffee drinks can be confusing, but it doesn't have to be with this poster on your wall to guide you through the most difficult challenge in life: ordering coffee.

    With some updates and corrections to the original, The Perfect Pour is now in poster form.
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  • Running on Thesis Fumes

    July 5, 2010  |  Personal

    I’m in the fifth year of my statistics PhD, and the time has finally come where I need to lock myself in my office and write a thesis. It’s going to be amazing fun, I assure you. I’m hoping I’ll reach true nirvana somewhere along the way.

    Since I’ve all but finalized my thesis defense date for the end of this summer, it’s going to be a hectic three months. This month, I’ll be working hard to roll out a usable and useful application that some of you will be able to use. There will be more details, but it has to do with memories, calendars, and it’s in the same spirit of your.flowingdata.

    After that, I’ll write.

    I’m telling you this, because my brain is going to be in another place for the next few months. I fully intend to regularly update FlowingData. I’m too OCD not to, but if I happen to miss a day, you’ll know why.

    Email responses will also slow to a snail’s pace. But please do keep sending in suggestions to [email protected]. Your post ideas will help the flow coming since I won’t be able to stay on top of things as well as I’d like to.

    Finally, if you have any visualization-related questions, you should definitely post it to the forums before emailing me. There are nice people who hang out there sometimes, so you’re more likely to get a response through there than through my neglected inbox.

    Alright. Here we go. Let the fun begin.

  • Happy birthday, FlowingData. You’re three today

    June 25, 2010  |  Announcements

    Can you believe it? FlowingData is three years old today. I'm in the middle of a cross-country move, so I can't get into the number rundown like I usually do, but I just wanted to take this chance to thank all of you for reading. Thanks for sharing links with your friends and sending in suggestions. Every retweet, like, digg, and stumble helps FlowingData reach a wider audience.

    It seems so long ago when I was just rambling to myself around here. Now there are 40k of you. Next year, 100k?

    Thanks to all the sponsors too, past and present, who help keep the gears turning around here. I couldn't have done it without you.

    Happy birthday, FlowingData!

    Grab a sticker and show your undying love for FD for everyone to see :).

  • Comment to win a copy of ‘Beautiful Visualization’ – winner announced!

    June 21, 2010  |  Contests

    Continuing with the 'Beautiful' series, O'Reilly has released their newest one, Beautiful Visualization.

    This book examines the methods of two dozen visualization experts who approach their projects from a variety of perspectives -- as artists, designers, commentators, scientists, analysts, statisticians, and more. Together they demonstrate how visualization can help us make sense of the world.

    Like others in the series (e.g. Beautiful Data, Beautiful Code), Beautiful Visualization is a compilation of essays from twelve people and groups who work in the field, and it's a very mixed bag. Regular FD readers will recognize many of the names: Fernanda Viegas, Martin Wattenberg, Aaron Koblin, Robert Kosara, Nick Bilton, and Jer Thorp, among others.
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  • FlowingData stickers!

    June 17, 2010  |  Announcements

    FlowingData sticker!

    I love the Apple logo and all, but my Macbook really needed some pizazz, and what says pizazz more than a FlowingData sticker? Nothing. Honest to goodness, I feel like a new man, and now you can too.
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  • Comment to win free copies of ‘Beginning Python Visualization’ – Winners announced

    March 26, 2010  |  Contests

    You know when you're going through old junk and find something really awesome that you completely forgot about? Well that's what happened to me the other day, and lucky for you it's free e-copies of Beginning Python Visualization. Four of them, actually.

    Simply leave a comment below by Sunday, March 28, 11:59pm EDT for a chance to win, and then come back to this post on Monday to see the winners. Let's make it a round of desert island. Name the five movies that you would want to take with you if you were stranded on a desert island.

    I'll get it started:

    • Back to the Future
    • Forrest Gump
    • Billy Elliot
    • Shawsank Redemption
    • The Sting

    Good luck!

    P.S. Here's my review of Beginning Python Visualization, in case you missed it.

    Winner Announced

    Congratulations to the four following people. You should have received your redemption codes via email by now.

    Thanks everyone else for participating, and good luck next time.

  • Cleaning house.

    February 24, 2010  |  Announcements

    I'm transitioning to a new server right now, and let me tell you. Moving three years' worth of files and content is no fun at all. Where's a sysadmin when you need one? I'm also realizing how out-dated some of my software is, so like any move - in the physical world or digital - I'm in the process of upgrading everything. Bear with me. It might be a bumpy ride.

    If you catch something that's a bit off, please do let me know in the comments. I'll really appreciate it. Thanks.

  • Status Update for the World Progress Report

    February 3, 2010  |  Announcements

    Just a quick update for those who ordered the World Progress Report. It's been with the printer this past week, and I expect to have the prints physically in my hands tomorrow. I'll start mailing them out as soon as I get them. Thanks for your patience.

    By the way, together we raised around $2k for Haiti earthquake relief. Way to go, FD readers.

    Update (2/5/10) - First batch of prints went out today.

    Update (2/12/10) - Second batch went out today. Last batch, mostly international orders, go out next.

    Update (2/18/10) - Last batch of reports went out today.

  • Buy a Print. Support Distaster Relief in Haiti. Please.

    January 14, 2010  |  Announcements, Mapping

    Unless you live under a rock inside a cave in the remotest area in the world, you know a huge quake struck Haiti on Tuesday, and much lies in ruins. The New York Times just posted some before and after satellite images, and it's a horrible thing to see. Buildings gone. People gone.

    It pains me to think about what if that were to happen to me or my family.

    To this end, I'm donating all proceeds from World Progress Report orders, along with this month's FlowingData revenues, to UNICEF's relief efforts. The Report, after all, is an effort to relate to the rest of the world. It only seems fitting. It's not much in the grand scheme of things, I guess, but at least it's something. As they say, every little bit counts.

    Again, I'm taking orders for one week - through January 21. Do some good and get something good too. I'm including How America Learns with all orders now. Buy a print now.

    Or if the World Progress Report just isn't your thing, you can donate directly to UNICEF.

    I mean, seriously, there are 27,000 of you + me. We can make a big difference together.

  • Merry Christmas, and See You Next Year

    December 25, 2009  |  Announcements

    Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you're having a great holiday season so far. Good food, good company, and more good food.

    This will be my last post for the year, but don't fret. FlowingData will return to its regularly scheduled programming January 1. Take a look through the archives if you start to go through withdrawl. Don't worry - it's all going to be okay.

    See you all next year.

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