Impactful Community Leader

Impactful Community Leader

Today, I won the Impactful Community Leader prize at the 2023 Information is Beautiful Awards!

I am so happy about this because I really believe in the importance of community. It's why I put so much energy into things like Elevate, Decibels, and this very blog.

I was asked to record a one-minute video that was played at the ceremony, so of course I wrote a three-minute speech that I then had to cut down to size. Luckily, there are no such limits here, so here's the full, director's cut version:

Hi everyone! I'm Duncan - and I'm so enormously grateful to be given this award. It really means a lot to me, and let me explain why.

Like many people who do dataviz, I don't live in one of the world's big dataviz cities. And like a lot of other people, I also avoid flying whenever possible because of the carbon emissions. This makes it kinda hard to meet other people who do dataviz. A lot of the work that I've put into community over the last few years has been about solving that problem.

One of the few silver linings of the Covid pandemic, at least for me, was that it hugely increased people's willingness to participate in community online - and that opened up opportunities for me that would have been impossible beforehand. Opportunities to see amazing speakers, take part in inspiring workshops, all things that weren't available online before.

Covid is no longer the global threat that it was a few years ago, though it's obviously still out there. And I'm really happy that our openness to online community has persisted. We're streaming this event online, for example, rather than only having it available in-person.

Online community isn't the same as meeting in-person. But I don't think it's worse. It's just different. Most importantly, it's accessible to people living in cities or communities where dataviz isn't so much of a thing - especially people in the global South. And accessible communities are better communities.

So if this award earns me one request, it's that we continue to put as much effort into online community as we do meeting up in-person. Thankyou!

Finally - a few people I'd like to thank.

First, the members of the Data Visualization Society and its board and committees, both past and present, for all the hard, volunteer work that they put in to make events like this a reality. Special shoutouts go to Amanda Makulec, Mollie Pettit, and the whole Outlier crew.

Second, I want to thank the members of Decibels - the data sonification community that I run alongside my Loud Numbers collaborator Miriam Quick, as well as Sara Lenzi, Ben Dexter Cooley and Maxene Graze.

Third, the members of the Elevate Dataviz Learning Community. Everyone there is so kind and generous in sharing their knowledge, and it's one of the best communities I've ever participated in. Thankyou so much.

Finally - the biggest thanks go my partner Silfa, my family, and to Alli Torban, Gabrielle Mérite, Will Chase, Sonja Kuijpers, Jane Zhang, Ben Oldenburg, and Gurman Bhatia, who've been endlessly encouraging and helpful over the past few years. I would not be here without you all.