Data Viz Thoughts .|: 9/14/19

Adam Mico
5 min readSep 14, 2019

A Tableau-centric weekly blog about the viz-making process, entertainment for introverts and (my personal) Viz of the Week #DataVizThoughts

Welcome to the 1st blog in a weekly series focusing on data visualizations (with a Tableau focus) with quick blurbs about music and streaming series. Click the links to access the notable creator’s viz pages (bold font) and pop culture references the may otherwise be lost.

Viz Thoughts on…

Elvis Presley: The Original UK Rock Idol

Credit: Adam Mico and Zach Bowders — Click the image bubble on the right to access the viz)

Music vizzes are life; even sweeter is when the music can embedded within a viz. One could throw in a web part and call it the day, but it’s Tableau and needs to be more… and even greater when enlisting the King (not Lebron James, but Elvis Presley).

The data scraped covered Top-40 singles chart history from the UK and USA between 1955–1977. Before digging into it, I had absolutely no clue what I would discover. My assumption was that he would have had a much more successful career in the USA (1). This notion comes from someone who has written about Elvis Presley for a very long time.

Spoiler Alert: UK was consistently ahead of the USA with every single chart plateau metric when factoring the sheer volume and consistency of hit making. What I wanted to do is to display that as cleanly as possible while still having a fun music player and snazzy charting.

To provide a boost and a 2nd pair of eyes, I asked Mr. Zach Bowders to collab in order to push out the vi(z)ion (see what I did there) buried deep in the recesses of the data requiring a good carving. Zach is a stellar #datafam community member that happens to make great vizzes with minimal fuss.

We bantered a few ideas back and forth. After pushing out a silly false start (fortunately hidden) of a lollipop and a reverse lollipop of UK and USA chart reaches (it looked kinda cool, but took up a ton of space).

Sidetracked… Okay focus man… clarity is what it’s about.

In the meantime, he cleaned up some of the formatting (thank him for the dope borders around the viz player and shape filters). Even niftier… he brought up dumbbell chart for this dumbbell. It took up less space and was much more attractive.

After the dumbbell was created, the rest kind of folded into place. At that point, I asked a couple people for additional feedback.

Zen Master Ken Flerlage (2) came to mind because (early on) I was considering using his uber-fantastic curvy timeline for this. Even though I changed my mind (because it would have cluttered this viz a little too much), he was happy to assist giving it a look over and provided some notes that helped make more focused and less confusing. His input was the final touch it needed and that nearly made up for him not being an Elvis fan.

You are not just going to get Tableau pron awesomeness on this blog. I’ll sprinkle some pop culture for introverts (3) — this will either help while making a viz or taking a break. The primarily pop culture focus will be on a song and something I’m binge watching. Of course after that aside, the flashy laser point will beam @ Tableau (usually) to share a personal favorite viz of the week (which is insanely difficult to do).

Music Morsel

Lene Lovich — It’s You, Only You (Mein Schmerz), 1982

Lene Lovich is a new wave pioneer that is best known for ‘Lucky Number’ and her cover of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’. Her entire late ’70s and early ’80s discography is chock-full of delicious pop. Unfortunately, most of her work didn’t see much light in the USA and the featured new wave cover is an addictive masterpiece + the video is a kitsch work of art.

Binge Bonanza

The show I’m currently dialed into on Netflix is Million Pound Menu. It’s basically Shark Tank, but for aspiring restaurateurs in England hosted buy a French chef/restaurateur single-handedly attempting to dispel the given that French people are generally unpleasant and rude. I’m currently on Season 1 and disarmed they changed the format of the show midway through that season. I may binge elsewhere next week.

Viz of the Week

Credit: Mariona Banyeres (A helping hand.) — Click the image bubble on the right to access the viz

There are so many great vizzes published on Tableau Public every day. I’ve only been part of the Twitterverse #Tableau #datafam community for a little over a month and each day there are handfuls of pieces shared that result in a wow, but Mariona Banyeres’ incredible #IronViz entry, A helping hand manifested a speechless ‘Wow’.

Mariona applied a mind-altering hybrid of art, inspiration & insight. The clasping hand image you see is completely math-drawn (4); there is no underlying image — it was just Data Viz Magic (see .gif below)! Much like Lene Lovich, we can’t be her, but we can aspire to be.

I dropped into her DMs and asked her:

Did you have a vision and draw the data around that or did you look at the data, create charting and figure the clasping hands would really tie it together and give it a more powerful heartbeat?

Mariona’s response is a wonderful lesson to all data visualizers out there:

The former, though to be fair, by the time the thought of the hands struck me I’d already spent quite some time exploring the data and researching the drama at its core.

In order to create a functional viz that makes sense, it’s essential you have a strong grasp (5) of the data. Whether you have a vision or figure it out on the run… Please learn the data and research its context — this is imperative for professional and personal visualization development.


(1) He never toured England because his manager, ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker, was an illegal immigrant and frightened to leave the country (even before Trump)

(2) He is also an ambassador. I think once a person achieves Tableau Zen Master or Ambassador, it should be a part of a person’s title… like Dr., Lord, Dame and whatnot. Anyone with me on this?

(3) I’m not just an introvert, but I identify with them and that may be a discussion for a different blog…

(4) Complex bespoke method of ‘drawing’ images with densification, math curves and tons of calculations. Drawing on this scale with such precision is next level intense.

(5) I can’t stop and won’t stop punning

Bonus Byte

If you like any of this, thank Tableau Magic for gently prodding me to blog (again).

Continue… (is this a good enough sign off?)



Adam Mico

Data Visualization and Enablement Leader | Data Leadership Collaborative Advisory Board Member | Tableau Visionary + Ambassador | Views are my own