Beginner’s Guide to FlowingData – A Guided Tour

Our FlowingData community went up from 2,641 subscribers last month to about 4,100, so more than a third of you are new. Welcome (and thanks to the those of you who have obviously been spreading the word :). As a new reader, you might not know where to begin, so let me show you around.

Best of All Time

The best place to start – the most popular FlowingData posts since the first one in mid-2007:

  1. 17 Ways to Visualize the Twitter Universe
  2. Showing the Obama-Clinton Divide in Decision Tree Infographic
  3. 10 Largest Data Breaches Since 2000 – Millions Affected
  4. Ebb and Flow of Box Office Receipts Over Past 20 Years
  5. 21 Ways to Visualize and Explore Your Email Inbox
  6. Chart of the Day: A Breakdown of Facebook Applications
  7. Love, Hate, Think, Believe, Feel and Wish on Twitter
  8. 6 Influential Datasets That Changed the Way We Think
  9. Watching the Growth of Walmart Across America, Interactive Edition
  10. Data Visualization Blogs You Might Not Know About

Dive Into the Archives

From there, you can find popular posts by category in the archives. Particularly, the visualization categories are usually of the most interest (and my personal favorites):

More Recently…

Lately, I’ve been having fun with some of my own one-day projects. Many of you saw the spread of Walmart. If you liked that one, you might also like watching the goals on 43things and my own rendition of twittervision – Twitter World.

The FlowingData forums are also brand new, so make sure you drop by there to say hello. If you have questions about visualization or data or you’ve found something ridiculously awesome and you want to share it with us, by all means, post it to the forums.

Lastly, we have a mini summer project going on — collect data, visualize, and win an Amazon gift certificate.

A Little About the Author

You can find some details about me here, but in a nutshell, I’m Nathan, a UCLA PhD candidate in statistics, and as you might have guessed, I love playing with data — visually. I also really like to cook and eat, my favorite color is green, I’ve been married for a few months over a year, and my cat’s name is Miles.

If you want to get in touch, the best way is email, but you can also find me on Twitter,, and more recently, Digg. If you want to suggest topics, which I really really like, the best place is via, but email is fine too.

Ok, enough about me. What’s your name? What are you interested in? What’re you expecting out of FlowingData? What do you prefer – chicken or beef? Please do introduce yourself in the comments and if you like, your Twitter name so we can all get to know each other a little better.

Welcome to FlowingData!

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to the feed to make sure you get all the week-daily updates right away.


  • – Ray
    – Interested in Data Mining and Visualization
    – I expect flowing data to make me think about data visualization and how I could apply what you talk about to my own work.
    – chicken but like beef almost as well
    – twitter:

  • -Interested in social visualisation / artistic visualisation / fetishism surrounding information visualisation aesthetics

    – I anticipate flowingdata to keep on showinf me lots of interesting new projects and imbue everything in a healthy critical slant.

    – definitely chicken.

    -twitter @organised

  • Ray – welcome!

    Iman – i get the strange feeling we’ve met before.

  • Hi, Nathan,

    We’ve already shared a couple of tweets–I’m “muraii” on Twitter.

    I’m a nontraditional math major, cobbling together various undergrad courses, mostly part-time, over the course of a decade now. I’m astounded by FlowingData, the polish, but moreso the playfulness. This latter attribute is, in my opinion, sorely missing in mathematical curricula. I mean, while a lot of the visualizations aren’t mathematically advanced, they are mathematical, and are at least doors opening to richer investigation.

    If I had the time, I’d work on a pet projecting I’ve been brewing for a few weeks now. It’s a mapping project roughly comparable to Lee Byron’s Walkability Map, though mapping a different sort of data.


  • I’m interested in changes in society caused by the internet

    Flowing data has been interesting so far, I wouldn’t want to hinder it with my expectations

    I eat chicken more often, but I grew up in Texas and am partial to red meat

    I rarely use twitter;

  • i love how people are actually answering chicken or beef. i feel like i’m catering an event. daniel and stephen – welcome :)

  • i’m bea

    i read flowingdata to better understand what nathan does all day in front of his computer

    can i request tofu?

  • I’m an Earth scientist and hope to learn a trick or two about effective communication of complex relationships w/ statistical visualization techniques.

    let’s see … I’ll take beef

  • Hi, Nathan. Thanks for the welcome post. It was a helpful map.

    I’m an M.Sc. of physics and a blog enthusiast. I’ll probably be displaying a lot of data in my career, and I’m hoping to get some useful tips from FlowingData. (I’m also here for the cool stuff like twittervision).

    => twitter:

    => my blog about physics:

    and I prefer beef.

  • Hi Nathan! My name is Victoria and I just came across FlowingData today, and I love it already!

    I have a BA in biology, but don’t work in it at all right now. I am doing various things and saving up because I’m planning on going to grad school sometime soon (next year, I hope!) to study applied math. I’ve always loved data visualization and I’m hoping I can learn more about it through this site.

    I loved your Walmart growth video! So fascinating.


    Oh and chicken please!