January 2024

January 2024

Every month or so, I share a quick digest of what I've been working on and reading. Here's the latest. More in the series here.

Some housekeeping to start the new year. For the last few years I've been publishing these articles every ten days, but this year is already looking busy and so for at least a few months I'm going to try shifting to a new cadence of sending them monthly - usually around the middle of the month. Let's see how that goes.

Over the last few months, I've been working with Swedish startup ClimateView, which helps cities manage their sustainable transitions.

City climate transitions with ClimateView
A science-based system to enable policy, implementation and impact in city transitions.

The company's core product is a kind of dashboard where planners and citizens can see progress towards sustainability goals. That dashboard is backed with a tonne of awesome climate science, behavioural modelling, economic models, scenario planning, and other good stuff.

I've been helping them to distil how their method, framework and platform all work together, and we've written it all up in a white paper, full of lovely diagrams and dataviz. It's a really nice guide to how cities should think about achieving their lofty climate targets.

Data-driven Transitions: a co-created methodology
A co-created methodology combining the precision of physics with the nuances of behavioural and economic science.

You can download it here, in exchange for an email address.

The nice folks at Northeastern University's "Storybench" publication have done a round-up of data sonification tools and resources, and they've included a couple of my tools in the collection. It includes my Data Mapper tool, as well as the Loud Numbers VCV Rack plugin. It also talks a bit about why you'd want to sonify data, which is always helpful.

These tools will take your data to a new level — or decibel - Storybench
As data visualizations become more prevalent in news coverage, more and more people are looking to data sonification as a new frontier. Sonification is a process that translates data, such as numbers on a chart, into musical notes and sound. Organizations like the Financial Times, BBC, The New York Times and the Tactical Technology Collective

Your regular reminder that if you're interested in sonification you should definitely be lurking in Decibels, the community I run for sonification enthusiasts.

Look at these beautiful drawings of real estate in northern Manhattan just before it began urbanising at the end of the 19th century! So many fancy garden layouts.

Manhattan’s Last Arcadia: Estate Plans from the Index of American Design (1936)
These watercolour images depict a lost 19th-century Manhattan of grand country estates and vast private gardens.

Thanks Oliver!

Occasionally people ask me why I'm not running this newsletter through Substack and the answer is that (a) I don't want to put any core infrastructure in the hands of a startup funded by venture capital, (b) the signup experience for readers is awful and spammy, and (c) after seeing what happened with Medium, I have become very wary of any platform that thinks it can make big bucks from other people's writing.

Medium has pivoted so many times it has now come full circle
IN 2013, MEDIUM SEEMED to have a bright future. It was founded by Evan Williams, a co-founder and former chief executive of Twitter, and also a co-founder of Blogger, one of the first self-publishing platforms during the early days of the social web. When Twitter went public in 2013, Williams’ stake gave him a net […]

Now I get to add a (d) to the list! Turns out Substack is full of Nazis, and the company doesn't plan to do anything about it. So that sucks.

Gift Article: Substack Has a Nazi Problem
The newsletter platform’s lax content moderation creates an opening for white nationalists eager to get their message out.

If you're on Substack and do not wish to be in light of the above, Molly White has written a bit about the situation and how she shifted to a self-hosted Ghost instance instead.

Citation Needed has a new home
Citation Needed is no longer hosted on Substack. Welcome to my antifascist bar.

If you do any work that could charitably be called "data journalism" then would you mind filling out a short survey?

My pals at datajournalism.com are doing their annual survey of the state of the industry, which is super important because... well, if you're a data journalist then I probably don't need to explain the importance of having good data.

The survey will take you about 10 minutes to fill out, and it's available in English, Spanish, and Italian. It closes on Tuesday 16 January at midnight. Head this way to fill it out.

Participate in The State of Data Journalism Survey 2023
For the third year in a row, we are asking data journalists and professionals to share insights into their skills, tools, work practices, demographics,…

In December, we recorded an episode of the Elevate Dataviz Show about how we approach goal setting. In it, I talk about how I'm trying to scale back what I'm doing a bit - I just have too much on! Members of Elevate get to watch us record and ask questions live.

We've also done episodes recently on good topics for personal projects, and on what we'd pursue if we didn't have to do "serious" work.

Oh, and if you prefer audio to video then you can find all of the Elevate Show, more or less (at the time of writing the last couple of episodes are yet to be published), as a podcast instead. Search for "The Elevate Data Visualization Show" in your favourite podcast client, or subscribe using the RSS feed.

Finally, I'll leave you with a database of unidentified chairs in Star Trek, and an Instagram account of identified chairs (and other design items) from Star Trek. You're welcome.

Ex Astris Scientia - Unidentified Chairs in Star Trek
Unidentified off-the-shelf office chairs, lounge chairs or car seats in Star Trek

See you in February!