Data Viz Thoughts .|: #TheSDGVizProject Spotlight + Fiorella Conn has our Viz of the Week

A Tableau-centric weekly blog about the viz making process, #datafam member interviews, Viz of the Week & entertainment for introverts (consisting of a music morsel & a binge bite).

This week we feature a brand new initiative The SDG Viz Project led by Vinodh Kumar (@VinodhDataArt), Jacqui Moore (@jaxx084) and Brian Moore (@BMooreWasTaken) + Fiorella Conn (@FiorellaConn) elegantly shares her vision with her Viz of the Week!

Feature Interview

Credit: The SDG Viz Project (click on image to access link to their site)

#TheSDGVizProject is led by three wonderful #datafam community members. The project’s purpose is noble, but it confused me before this interview. Their following answers helped clear up any bewilderment I had. Even more, the potential impact of this project is substantial and it’s my honor to interview them to gain a ton of insight and appreciation for their collective goals (which should be ours as well). This year, I fully intend to participate in this superb initiative!

Adam Mico (AM): How are all three of you connected and have you worked together before?

Brian Moore (BM): So I think a lot of people already know how me and Jacqui are connected (1), but I’ll let Vinodh give some background on how we met.

Jacqui Moore (JM): Haha, yes, I think it’s well known that Brian and I are married (2). We’ve also worked together in a lot of different roles over the years, and we met in college. Vinodh, I met through Brian, so I’ll let him take it from here!

Vinodh Kumar V R (VK): I met Brian through a #sportsvizsunday project on cricket world cup. I think it was 10 months ago and we were both new to the community. I was trying out different things, trying to learn Tableau without a proper plan or road-map and that is when Brian reached out to me and offered to be my mentor to help me realize my dream of working in data visualization. Eventually we became great friends and he will be my mentor forever. All credit goes to Brian for whatever success I have received and will receive in future in the field of data visualization. I met Jacqui through Brian and she is such an amazing, kind and helpful person. We became good friends real fast. I’m super excited to do this impactful project with these two kind and supportive people.

BM: Mentoring Vinodh is one of the best decisions I have ever made. And any success he has had or will have is completely his and entirely deserved. I’ve never met someone so passionate and dedicated to learning about data visualization. I’m honored to be his mentor and his friend, and really excited about working on this project with him (and my amazing wife of course). (3)

AM: How was it decided to collaborate to begin the #TheSDGVizProject and why did you decide to collaborate?

BM: Vinodh came up with the idea for the project a few months back and reached out to see if we were interested in collaborating. We loved the idea and the three of us started researching and planning almost immediately. Although we have very different backgrounds, there are some commonalities that make this project the perfect opportunity to collaborate: a passion for data visualization and a desire to help others. Vinodh has a long history of volunteering and is very active in his local community. Jacqui and I have been searching for volunteer opportunities, but with demanding work schedules and a young son, it’s been difficult finding something meaningful that aligns with our schedule. The three of us also have complementary skills that are perfect for this kind of collaboration. Vinodh has an incredible knack for finding, interpreting, and visualizing interesting data sets. Jacqui is an amazing designer and has a strong background in web design and user experience. Me? I’m just a hype man, haha.

JM: Brian is too humble! He brings a great skill in storytelling and design. I think he’s going to build some great vizzes for this initiative. Vinodh also has great design and a passion for this project that has been key in pushing it forward, and of course, collecting the data sets! I think it is going to be a great complimentary team.

VK: I have been an avid follower of the SDG’s for almost 3 years and I want to contribute in every way possible. I should thank Brian and Jacqui for encouraging and materializing the idea. The amount of effort they are putting into this is unbelievable. I am so glad to have this symbiotic partnership on such a crucial project. Brian is a ‘wizard’, Jacqui is an ‘artist’, and I am a ‘padawan’ (4), so i think we have a perfect blend :)

AM: Why is the project relevant/important and what are your project goals?

BM: As a data person, seeing some of the statistics out of the U.N. surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals was a really eye-opening experience. I think we’re all aware of many of the problems that people around the world are faced with, but seeing it quantified was astonishing. Over 700 million people, roughly 10% of the world’s population survive on less than $1.90 a day (~$700 per year). In 2017, 821 million people went without enough food and 785 million were without basic drinking water services. 1 in 5 children worldwide, ages 6–17, are not attending school. And the list goes on. The Sustainable Development Goals are critical to ensure that every person on this planet is able to meet the most basic of human needs. The problem is, most people I have talked to have never heard of them.

JM: The U.N. is already 5 years into their 15-year plan and although they’ve made some incredible progress, current estimates have them missing a lot of their targets by 2030. World Leaders are calling for a “Decade of Action” and increased commitment and involvement at three levels: Global Action, Local Action, and People Action. This project is focused on People Action. Our goal is to use data visualization and social media to raise awareness and support the Sustainable Development Goals and provide opportunities for our community to contribute locally to the global goals. By focusing on one goal each month, we hope to bring sustained awareness to the goals, and some focus to each.

VK: Brian and Jacqui have pretty much summed up everything. The SDG’ s will change this world and we are trying to do our part. Starting with using data visualization to raise awareness and promote the goals and then getting more active in our local communities to contribute directly. We really hope the participants will go beyond visualization and will look for opportunities to contribute to the SDG’s via local chapters or even just making changes at home. Like not wasting Food in itself is supporting SDG’s 12th goal… Responsible Production and Consumption.

AM: I understand that #MakeoverMonday has hosted some SDG projects in the past. How does #theSDGVizProject differ from those projects?

BM: #MakeoverMonday has such an extensive and dedicated following and it’s awesome that they have been able to use that platform to raise awareness and promote the Sustainable Development Goals. Their recent collaboration with the SDG Action Campaign on Positive Impact Events is one of the things that inspired us to get this project going. But the foundation of the #MakeoverMonday project is that the subject changes every week. Each one of the SDG’s is so important, and there is such a breadth of data available from the U.N. We wanted to create a platform that would allow us to dive deep into each one of the goals individually. We also wanted a way to promote the SDG’s continuously throughout the year. The hope is that by consistently promoting the goals and providing opportunities to contribute to them, we can influence some members of our community to get involved and make a meaningful impact.

JM: We decided to make this a monthly project because there are 17 goals, and each of them deserves dedicated attention. Each of them has actions that can be taken on an individual level. We want to give the space to highlight and delve deeply into each of the goals. Like Brian said, it’s awesome that #MakeoverMonday, and their partnerships with #VizForSocialGood and the SDG Action Campaign brought attention to the SDGs within the #DataFam community in 2017 and again in 2019. This is an area ripe with possibility, and open data that enables us to dive in on each area in detail and bring more sustained attention to the goals.

AM: How does somebody access the data to create a data visualization for the project?

JM: On our site! Here is the direct data link, which will be updated each month with the dataset for the next goal. The data itself is stored on data.world. Participants can follow the link from our site for each goal, and click on “Project Files” to see the .csv file for that goal, and then download the data.

VK: Also, please check out the resources section in our website for the U.N.’s guidelines on logo and image usage. The U.N. is particular about it and we have to stick to the guidelines

AM: Does the data visualization need to be in Tableau (or are you data visualization ‘tool agnostic’) and can you think of other data visualization applications that could be used for these visualizations?

JM: We are open to any tool! The important factor is that the viz can be shared. Tableau Public offers a great platform for sharing interactive visualizations, of course. However, if participants want to use D3, PowerBI, or any of the number of viz tools that are out there, they are welcome to! The more the merrier. We just want to get people involved.

AM: How does one submit an entry and is there any sort of feedback and/or recognition for their efforts?

BM: Throughout the month we’ll be sharing, highlighting, and promoting any contributions from the community. These will also be highlighted in our monthly wrap-up posts and will go into our SDG Viz Gallery on the web-site (with permission from the authors). As of now we don’t have a formal feedback process in place, but all three of us would love the opportunity to provide feedback on vizzes upon request.

JM: Participants should remember to submit their viz in our tracker! We will be using this to keep track of participation in the project, and as a way to highlight people in our monthly wrap up and viz gallery. There is a question (for participants) to grant permission to be included in the viz gallery.

AM: Besides participating in the project as a data visualizer, how can people support Sustainable Development Goals?

VK: Each month we will be releasing our recap blog highlighting and discussing about the various entries and the key insights found. In the same blog we will also be discussing how the three of us have contributed or plan to contribute to the goal in the real world. We will also be sharing links and resources on how our community can contribute locally. As I said before most changes need to start from ourselves and from our very own home.

BM: Yes! Keep an eye out for our recap blogs for ways that you can contribute directly to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals. The U.N. also has a lot of information on their sites on how you can contribute. One great example is the “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World”, which lists small changes that we can all make in our daily lives to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. You can find it here or link to it from our Resources section.

Viz of the Week

Credit: Fiorella Conn —’ The United States of War’ (click image to access viz)

Adam Mico (AM): When you saw the data set, did you immediately want to go to a radial bar chart or did you have other ideas before ending up with this design?

Fiorella Conn (FC): Honestly, yes. I have been wanting to do this chart for quite a while and I didn’t seem to find the proper dataset. I looked through a bunch of datasets but I was just not getting the proper inspiration. Usually, after studying the dataset I immediately get a feeling and an image in my mind of what I want to do and how I want to show it. When I saw the #MakeoverMonday data I immediately thought of the Radial Stacked Bar Chart and from there I sketched it out, and then I chose the colors. Christopher (@ChrisC737) also gave me the great advice to keep it classy; originally, I had a different idea for the title style — I love to play with different fonts and title styles to create an impact on the visualization — but I followed his advice and I was so pleased with the final product.

AM: In order to fashion the data into a radial bar chart, what did you need to do with the data to accomplish it?

FC: I downloaded the dataset and got a hold of Toan Hoang’s (5)(Tableau Magic) (@Tableau_Magic) Radial Stacked Bar Charts blog. I read his blog and tried to understand his calculations — reading the comments helped me understand the sizing part of it as well — so that was my starting point. I also wanted to show the Peace portion of the data which was left out. So I subtracted the ‘war’ percentage by 1 and got the ‘peace’ percentage in decimals. Then, I followed the blog and guess what? I didn’t get it! The first and second times were a complete fail! Tableau broke and made amazing art but I wasn’t getting the chart at all. I finally got it on the third try because I had to pay more attention to the table calculations, but I came up with 12 bars instead of the amount that I needed. I kept trying to figure it out until I realized it had to do with the step size, which was configured to 3.6/12 reason why I was only getting 12 stack bar charts and not what I needed to show all the years but I was able to get it to work when I divided the 3.6 by 115. Then it was just a matter to put it all together in dashboard form.

AM: We’re there any surprises with the data set or items you found fascinating?

FC: I think the part that surprised me the most was the amount of time the United States has been at war and how some of our troops have been away from home for so long. I researched more into the issue and these conflicts were not just WWI, WWII and so on. These conflicts were internal, external, and to provide support to other nations (and our allies). The other part that really surprised me was how some of these conflicts were to counter communism in some Latin American countries, something I thought was just amazing.

AM:This is a #MakeOverMonday project’s focus is on (generally) non-custom chart types and clean design — your design is very clean, but may run into a little controversy with the custom chart type approach. How would you counter any arguments against using the chart type for this particular visualization?

FC: Thank you for thinking my visualization was very clean! I understand that some might not find the chart to be the best approach, but I think it boils down to personal style and preference. I love to create visualizations that will engage the audience. I try to make an impact from the start to make the audience feel like they want to know more and as a result, most will interact with the visualization. I could have stuck to bar charts or line charts like most, but I feel like this visualization acts more like an infographic because it first shows you the overall increasing trend over time and then it makes you want to interact with each year (which is represented by each bar chart) to see the detailed breakdown of what the colors are.

Music Morsel

Human Tetris’ Ian Curtis-inspired piece of post-punk revival is a catchy bit of music. The lyrics are a bitter tale of needing and wanting attention/love, but gets attention when he no longer desires it and late actions of love makes him even more upset because it came when despised the concept of love.

Binge Bite

They’ve Gotta Have Us is a docuseries on Netflix now. It covers the history, trends and poignant reflections on Hollywood of many stars of Black-American or Black-British descent (it was disappointing to find out that the there are similar film-making diversity issues also apply to the British film-making industry too). Gain fresh insight from legendary and current film-making/acting stars as they candidly share their stories and history — there are so many gems and bits of interest.

Bit of a side note: the documentary itself applauded Hollywood for beginning to diversify awards and sharing a bit of access to finally create non-stereotypical films — to me this was a little disheartening because as shared so well on Spencer Baucke’s blog, it’s just marginally improved and although there’s a brief glimpses of light… access to the end of the tunnel will continue to be a massive journey with heaps of hurdles.

Footnotes

1) I guess that explains the last name &the frequent photos together.

2) Thanks for the confirmation, Jacqui. I would have guessed that next.

3) Nice save, Brian!

4) ‘Padawan’ apparently is an apprentice, I don’t speak Star Wars, so I needed to look that up.

5) Big congrats to Toan on his well-deserved entry to the 2020 Zen Master cohort!

Keyrus US’ Tableau Evangelist and Tableau Ambassador. Views are very much my own. Priya Padham assists on #DataFam Interviews.

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