Dec 31, 2018

While looking through this year’s projects, picking out my favorites, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the times when the internet used to feel so care-free. It was more relaxed.

These days, there’s too much going on in the world for the internet to relax. Or rather, more of the world happens online now. This year, I felt like if I was going to spend time working on a project or writing something, it had to help people see a different perspective or teach something. I couldn’t just do it out of personal interest.

The feeling started in 2017 when I talked about spotting visualization lies and showed how a single dataset can lead to various conclusions. After all, figuring out what is real online is now a necessity.

In 2018, I spent more time on guides about visualizing aspects of data: uncertainty, outliers, incompleteness, and redundancy. I tended towards projects that highlighted differences and disparities but allowed myself occasional distractions in between.

Here are the ten most popular from this year:

  1. Visualizing the Uncertainty in Data
  2. How Different Income Groups Spend Money
  3. What Makes People the Most Happy
  4. Most Common Occupation by Age
  5. Visualizing Outliers
  6. The Demographics of Others
  7. Cuisine Ingredients
  8. Visualizing Incomplete and Missing Data
  9. Waiting for a Table
  10. Ask the Question, Visualize the Answer

I also spent more time figuring out how mobile data graphics work. (It seems like this mobile phone trend is going to be around for a while.) I also spent some time figuring out the scrollytelling format. (There’s still a ways to go.)

Learning these new things were a significant time suck, but it’s fun to learn new things. Otherwise, I’d just get bored, and past experience has shown that early efforts find a way to bring benefits at some point.


During the second half of the year, I introduced The Process, a weekly newsletter for members. It forced me to adjust limited minutes in my day-to-day, but it also helped me — and hopefully others — think more critically about visualization and its uses. I published 21 issues and look forward to developing it more next year.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me nice things in newsletter replies. Your words encourage mine.

A bit after starting The Process, I stopped accepting sponsorships and quietly made FlowingData a completely member-supported site. I was nervous, because as much as I dislike to, I have to approach FlowingData as a business to assure its longevity. Cutting out a substantial source of support didn’t seem wise.

I have nothing against advertising, minus creepy tracking, but there needs to be views and impressions to provide sponsors value. Guides on how to visualize data are for a relatively small audience compared to say, how you will die or a day in the life of Americans. But like I said, thinking about the details of visualization took precedence this year.

So, I went all-in on memberships. No regrets.

If you’d like to lend your support, along with gain unlimited access to tutorials, courses, and The Process, join the club.

Thank you again to all current members. I can’t thank you enough. You allow FlowingData to run and keep going.

Looking Forward to Next Year

Next year needs more play. There are serious things to examine, but there needs to be time for fun. So next year I hope to find a better balance between serious and fun. That’s all I want.

See you in 2019.