The Art of Transforming Data into Great Stories

What happened last week in the world of data visualization? This category provides you with remarkable visualizations – they can be remarkably beautiful, remarkably interactive or just remarkably interesting. Visualizations differ on so many levels, and so does their content. Let’s take a look at what week #7 brought us.


Who is the king of tennis?

Let’s talk about sports: Who would you say was/is the best tennis player ever? John Burn-Murdoch from the Financial Times put it all togehter creating a data-visualization that aims at visually exploring the success of male tennis players on several levels. Ever heard of scrollytelling? Burn-Murdoch gave it a try.

So Burn-Murdoch & the Financial Time seem to have it all figured out: “Djokovic’s 2015 was the greatest ever men’s tennis season”. On what ground is that statement justified?

Burn-Murdoch developed a graph whose x-axis displays the seasons under review, and whose y-axis represents the stages (quarterfinals, semifinal, winner, etc.) of a tournament. This combination provides insights into victories and defeats of world class players throughout a season. It takes some times to understand the graphs, and for the pure comparison of players other solutions might be favored. However, Burn-Murdoch further turned this into a data-driven-story that can be explored by scrolling through it. Besides the well compiled narrative, the aspect of comparison is implemented real nice here. For everyone, who is into tennis, this visualizations contains some spicy insides.

Financial Times - Djokovic's 2015 was the greatest ever men's tennis season


Stars and Planets – very nice to look at

Astronomy is your passion? You find great fascination in star-gazing? Than might be the right platform for you. Its focus lies on extensive visualizations of planets and stars as well as their positions and relations to each other.

The sites’ name is derived from the Goldilock principle, which is applied to the position of exoplanets and their host stars. The visualizations are simply stunning and let the reader immerse in the expanses of the galaxies. Even though the single visualizations provide visually very attractive insights about the positions and compositions of celestial bodies, the graphs lack some interactivity, which unfortunately limits the exploration experience for the user. The goal of this project was probably not to tell a data-driven-story from a journalistic perspective but from a scientific angle. That’s ok, we still have a small hint for the creators of this fantastic project: Extend the degree of exploration through interaction and you will have the world of passionate star-gazers at your feet. Plus a few data-specialists.


Drug Overdose Deaths in the U.S.

The New York Times decided to visually approach the serious topic of drug overdose deaths. The heat-maps and graphic results display how the epidemic of overdose deaths is spreading throughout the U.S.

The authors of the story avail themselves of the core technique of storytelling for their visualizations. Beginning with a general overview about the epidemic, they narrow the topic down. For instance, they compare the current problematic with the H.I.V. epidemic to better put it in context. In addition, they pick single states and counties to illustrate the development over time and different aspects of overdose deaths. By doing so, the authors rely on data-based visualizations, especially heat-maps, and refer to the main data figures in the written text. The result is a very well told story that merges text and visual components and their individual strengths – the visualizations transform the raw data into understandable and easy accessibly figures, while the written content puts the data into perspective and enriches the data-driven-article by reporting individual stories.

NYT Overdoes deaths

About the author : Eva Lopez (DW)