July 1st, 2013 Data Visualization NY Giorgia Lupi of Accurat, Ben Jones of Tableau Software

On Monday, July 1, 2013, OLC attended Data Visualization New York’s event featuring Giorgia Lupi of Accurat and Ben Jones of Tableau Software. Giorgia Lupi is the founder and Design Director at Accurat, an information design agency based in Milan and New York. Ben Jones is the Marketing Manager for Tableau Public.
Accurat is an informational design company that was formed in 2011. With about 20 members on their team, Accurat is headquartered in New York City and Milan. They analyze data and content to provide awareness. Accurat works with not just publications, but with editorial to even healthcare. And Monday night, Giorgia Lupi shared a number of Accurat’s work with the group.
Visual Data: Corriere della sera
The visualization was to provide readers with content they can read—without having words to describe the full context of the content. It can tell readers information without having them read it. “We found our own data set and found the most interesting way to visualize it,” Lupi said. “I’d say that this was a research project for us. It’s given us a way to experiment.” Lupi and her team at Accurat were given a set of constraints to work around: four days—time it took to get articles to the newspaper before publication—the audience, the size of visualizations, background and the font. They gave themselves an additional set of rules: use one font and use no pictoral elements. “This gives your visualization consistence,” Lupi said. 
From this experiment, they gathered that the leading story has to be catchy. They need to know if people actually read the paper—after all, Accurat and Corriere della sera are trying to reach out to all of the readers. And finally, Lupi explained that testing before publication is really important. “Reach out to people outside of data visualization,” she said. “They will give you a different point of view and most of the time, you will find that you’ve been too involved with data.”
Lupi showed off Painters in the Making, which focused in the ages of which artists reached fame. They wanted to answer the question, which period in life did the artists paint their masterpiece and Lupi proposed to see how patterns changed over time. The final step to the visualization was to create a key to help people understand the graphic.
Next, she presented a visualization on European Subterranean Veins, a visualization of the distance in European city subway lines. The team at Accurat wanted to know the city subway system length. To give people the idea of long the subways were, they compared them with geographically significant rivers or culturally relevant distances, like the Tour de France. 
Lupi presented infospatial compositions, where she described the compositions of the piece through the analysis of data, which forms into shapes and labeling. “To get to this point, you need to supplement primary information with secondary information,” she said. Then with providing visual explanations—a visualization key—fine-tuning the colors and the weight of the shapes, the visualization is complete. “Little things make a big difference,” she said. “Layering and making hierarchies clear is important.”
Visualizing Painters’ Lines
“We built an infographic to tell the painter’s lives. It’s not a scientific visualization, but we included information that we thought were personally interesting,” Lupi said. “It was just a static exercise. We built a visual index review to compare artistic influence.”
A Slice for Everyone with McCann Group: The history of Italian corruption
This particular visualization was revealed to have been developed specifically for journalists. It was built around a horizontal timeline and on the side of the visualizations are explanations of events. On the bottom of the graphic, there are 47 corruption cases that took place in Italy, ranging from the local level to international level. The shape of the events are dependent on the severity of the corruption, which makes it all unique. 
Lupi explained that the visualization went through many iterations. “It was played around with multiple times, trying to get it to fit the client’s wish and as aesthetically as possible,” she said. 
Interactive Visual Access to a digital archive: Un Anno di ____
“The idea is that users can search for any word and it will appear on the dash, depending on how many times it has appeared in the newspaper,” Lupi said. She also added on top, a visualization of important events and calendar of digital timestamps that are colored in—darker for more hits and lighter or white for less or no hits.
The Startup Universe
“We did this with Visual.ly,” Lupi said. “It’s a visual guide to startups, VCs and founders. Users can search for specific startups and so on. It’s easy to jump to and fro from startup to startup. They’re also able to compare people. It gives a visual access to founders and VCs.”
To wrap up her presentation, she concluded that from certain points of views, data visualization gives her and her team a satirical approach. “It tells us to be very customized. For us, the idea is that we’re trying to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible. We know there’s a science to data visualization. That doesn’t mean there’s an end, though. We’re constantly experimenting, fine-tuning and making mistakes.”
From here, Ben Jones took the stage to present data discovery with Tableau. Jones is the Product Managing Manager at Tableau, which is a Seattle-based company. The platform is a great data-sketching tool and according to Jones, “We help journalists present data on the web. It actually helps you discover insights and data.”
Jones described the “Data Horse Track,” which starts off with a question, moving on to gathering data, then exploring data, structuring data, communicating and then going back to the question. “The value to Tableau is a secretariat. It makes things east to see data flow at a different angle. The value is the cycle time of data to insight.”
Tableau allows for quick data discovery. Data is explicit knowledge and experience is tacit knowledge, whereas verbal responses live in both. They all answer different questions: who, what, where and when (data); why (verbal); and how (experience). 
To Jones, there’s great value on explicit data, and New York is abundant in it (and in tacit data too).
To use Tableau, it’s as frictionless as possible. Upload a data sheet and it extracts all of the necessary rows and variables for the user to work with. To alter rows, drag and drop. 
Right click to merge columns together. The program immediately sets it all up for the user.