Fell In Love With Data Stories

I’ve fallen in love with Data Stories over the past year.

For those (poor benighted souls) who haven’t heard of it before, it’s a bi-weekly podcast about visualization. It is a splendid collaboration between academic Enrico Bertini, whose blog is Fell In Love With Data, and practitioner Moritz Stefaner, whose site is Truth & Beauty.

I know most academics personally from seeing them at the academic conferences like IEEE VIS over the years, and I know of even more through reading their papers. It was no surprise that I enjoyed hearing them on the podcast.

The reason I’m so delighted with Data Stories is that it has changed my intellectual landscape by enticing me further into the world of practitioners than I was a year ago. It has given me a much broader situational awareness of the amount and sophistication of the activity there. It’s been educational — and useful — and inspiring — to find out what’s happening with practitioners. Who’s who? What’s up? Whose work do I resonate with? Where do I think the academics are ahead, and where do I think the practitioners are ahead? That is, what are the situations where I (or other academics) can learn from practitioners? Where are there opportunities for more effective transfer of technology or idea or methods from academia to practitioners?

When I accepted their kind invitation to be interviewed on the podcast, I hadn’t actually listened to any of the episodes yet. I’d certainly heard of it, and I kept meaning to… but then suddenly it was the day of the interview and I hadn’t gotten around to it. So I went into Episode 44 completely cold, with no sense of the surrounding context.

I hate listening to people talking while I’m sitting in front of my computer, because I’m far too impatient – I always start reading something else and lose track of what’s being said. Several months later I figured out how to integrate podcasts into my life in a way that works – listening to them as I drive or bike, when my eyes aren’t free to read. I started listening to the subsequent episodes as they came out, and then in my usual completist way started at the beginning and have been working my way through. I’m up to the high twenties so far.

It’s now a familiar part of going to and from UBC that I hear Enrico and Moritz chatting and laughing, and having a conversation with somebody. And of course I join in too – but so far I just say all these things in my head and nobody hears them. Having a blog will give me a place to have that conversation in a more satisfying way. I originally thought that I’d wait to start posting until I’d heard them all. I now realize that’s a bad plan – I’ve forgotten most of what I thought about some of the earlier ones. Much better to start in right away, and post when the spirit grabs me!

I do remember being really impressed by the clarity of thinking of Alberto Cairo and thinking “must read his book (The Functional Art) Right Now!”. For a future post, I might have to go back and listen again to remind myself of what else I wanted to say.

I also remember thinking “no no no, of course it’s not plagiarism to do remixes — or even full-on covers — of visualizations” in the debate in inspiration vs plagiarism with Connor and Yavuz. Again, maybe more later.

I even broke down and finally listened to my own episode just last month! Not much to disagree with yet in that one, although I bet in ten years that won’t be true any more…

And thus, Data Stories is one of the main catalysts behind me starting to blog. So – Enrico and Moritz, this is All Your Fault!

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One comment

  1. ebertini · · Reply

    Hey Tamara, I noticed this only now! This is fantastic! I am so happy to see you have a blog now and to know we had a bit of influence. I am very happy to know that more academics are joining the conversation. I think there is so much we can learn from practitioners and also so much we can expose to the world thanks to the experience accumulated in academia. You are already in my personal blog feeds! Looking forward to more posts! This is AWESOME!

    Liked by 1 person

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