Dammit, I want more kick-ass data visualization blogs folks!

by Enrico on November 18, 2011

in Thoughts

successful-blogsYesterday I wrote this on twitter: “I must confess I very rarely read data visualization blogs, most are depressingly predictable and shallow.” Yes, it’s not the nicest sentence I could write, but it’s true: most data visualization blogs suck. They do not inform, they do not entertain.

At VisWeek, last month, we organized a pretty successful Birds-of-Feathers (BoF) titled “Blogging about Visualization”. I and Robert advertised the thing a bit and we managed to gather a pretty cool bunch of people around a table. We spent at least a couple of hours all together and then we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a Greek restaurant.

During the BoF we discussed several aspects related to blogging (check the nice summary wrote by Dominikus to know more) but what struck me the most is the following: (1) people desperately want to know how to succeed with blogs; (2) people think it is a sort of black art when in fact it’s only a matter of mindset and hard work; (3) there are endless possibilities to open new blogs.

Yet, the decent blogs around can be counted with the fingers of one hand. And I want to see more great stuff, because either we grow as a community or nobody will grow. Here are some personal thoughts about blogging and a number of tips I want to share with you, hoping they will convince some among you to open the best data visualization blog ever.

The Data Visualization Showcase is Dead

When I think about why many data visualization blogs are so useless, the reason number one that comes into my mind is that they try to replicate a dead model: the data visualization showcase (I fell into this trap twice before creating FILWD, so I know what I am talking about). The showcase model is this: “Hey folks, look how cool this is“. Stop. Iterated x-times per week.

You don’t need a blog for this. It was maybe true 5 years ago but with the advent of Facebook and Twitter it’s totally useless. Also, and even more important, there’s no way for you (and for me) to compete with Infosthetics and Flowing Data (@Andrew: I know you don’t agree with me on the death of the data visualization showcase, but what can I do? This is what I think Smile).

Let me clarify. I don’t think these two blogs are useless. Andrew and Nathan did an enormous service to our field and we all have to thank them from the bottom of our heart, but it’s foolish to believe we need more of that.

Three key reasons why (vis) blogs suck

I could name a hundred, and by the way if you buy a book on blogging (like the classic mainstream ProBlogger) you will find millions, but here I’ll focus on those I believe are especially troublesome for vis blogs (apart from the data visualization showcase which is the most troublesome).

Trouble #1 – Taking it as a hobby. This is the most problematic. People write blogs casually, once in a while, when they have nothing special to do or when they feel something is so cool they have the urge to share it with the world, that is, three friends. Amateur blogs are everywhere and pollute the whole web. If you want to succeed with your blog it’s important for you to realize that you have to sweat your damn shirt. On the contrary, if you don’t want to succeed, why polluting the web with your blog? Think about it, it’s an ecology thing: every piece of information you put on the web may decrease the already feeble signal to noise ratio we have. Do you want to contribute to the noise?

There’s no other way to succeed than taking it as a serious endeavor, believe me. Blogging takes a lot of planning and work. Every single post may take many hours distributed across days, weeks, or even months. And that’s just the effort needed to create content, without counting administration and marketing. You might not see it, but behind every single post here there is a huge amount of work, and I know it’s the same for other fellow bloggers.

Being serious about your blog then it’s not only a matter of content but also of being committed to have a somewhat regular schedule, especially at the beginning. People hate dead trees and for a good reason. Please do me a favor: if you are considering opening a blog, take the whole thing very seriously. You need a good reason for opening a blog and if you don’t have one, sooner or later you will give up. I don’t want to discourage anyone, to the contrary, I want to see more great blogs! But I am also tired of shallow blogs and dead trees.

Trouble #2 – Providing limited value. What is *special* about your blog? I know, it’s a tough question. But, if you are not totally honest with yourself about that, you will have problems. People stop by and read your blog only because you are able to deliver some kind of value. What value? I don’t know … you name it. As a general rule people read for two main broad reasons: to learn or to be entertained (or both). Are you able to deliver unique knowledge that other people cannot deliver? Or do you have a special irresistible style that people love so much they are eager to see what’s next? That’s the trick, that’s the obsession you have to have to succeed.

Many, many, many vis blogs are shallow just because they do not give in, they do not have anything special to offer. They don’t even try to differentiate themselves from the rest. It’s a game in which you lift the bar 1 inch higher every single time you write. The web is a jungle, people jump from one web page to another in a matter of seconds, how do you plan to let someone stop and read through what you write? Let’s take the data visualization showcase mentioned above: do you think you can attract people by showing new visualizations every day? Do you think you are more skilled than the current main players in finding new stuff? I have several doubts.

When I opened FILWD it was clear to me I could not compete with the big guys (and I didn’t want to anyway) so I asked myself: “what skills or knowledge do I have that I can use to gain a competitive advantage?” And my answer was that I have direct access to vis research and researchers and that I know vis theory better than the average geek. I am sure you have your own uniqueness so try to think hard how to use it.

Trouble #3 – Forgetting to show a real face.People are too busy to absorb the bare information, and information by the way is not a scarce resource anyway. Many blogs are plain dry, it looks like the writer does not exist or hides behind the curtains. Where are the emotions, opinions, and fun? Writing about scientific stuff does not imply being serious, objective or dry. The best bloggers show their face and risk their reputation every single post. Sometimes I feel a pain in the stomach before hitting “publish”. I happened to think: “people will kill me for this one “.

Similarly, many bloggers don’t spend any time thinking whether they have a style or not. But *your* style matters a lot and you’d better know what it is. There are a million styles and be careful not to fake it. Your style has to be natural but it also has to shine through your words and visual design. Take for instance Stephen Few: Oh boy … I hate the way he expresses his opinions, he makes me cling my teethes at times, but you rest assured I read every single line of what he writes. What is your style then?

How do you create (or revamp) a successful vis blog?

Hey this is slippery terrain: every single blogger has his own formula and you can find a million sources on the web on how to make your blog successful. I don’t pretend to be a blog guru, but I can share with you the things that really worked for me, with the hope they will assist you in case you want to open your blog.

Tip #1 – Find your final cause. How do you plan to change the world? Why do you want to open a blog? Once you put aside all the legitimate ego trip we all make what is left for the others? Successful blogs are centered around the readers, they want to make the world better. They strive to provoke shifts in people’s mind. How do you plan to be ridiculously helpful for people? With FILWD I planned from the very beginning to help people become visualization experts, then I discovered I could sometimes help them think in unconventional ways. What’s your cause? I’ll give you an example: do you know anything about Data without Borders? That’s a cause folks!

Tip #2 – Study a lot. Before starting FILWD I read an endless amount of material about blogging, I trashed many and kept some. I studied the strategies of many many successful bloggers in many other areas out of visualization. I could name hundreds of sources but you have to do your own research. Among the thousands things I read, there are two gems that really shine: Trust Agents, a must read even if not an easy read, and Think Traffic, the best blog about blogging ever.

Tip #3 – Plan ahead and find your style. Before starting FILWD I wrote down a thousand plans and eventually came up with two key pieces of information: (1) my target posting schedule; (2) a very few number of post categories. The posting schedule does not have to be very tight but it has to be somewhat regular, especially before your blog is established; people hate guessing when you are going to post the next article (and of course I am still struggling with it). Having a number of predefined post categories is the best piece of advice I can give, it helped me being totally clear about what I wanted to write and especially what I did not want to write. For instance, I very rarely write about other people’s work unless it is an inspiration for a broader argument. You can check my categories on the blogs and you will see they are very few. When I write a new post I think: “what category do I want to write in today?

Tip #4 – Be ready to walk through the dark and deep valley of loneliness. Blogging reminds me when I started learning how to play guitar many years ago. At the beginning it’s so frustrating, it looks like you will never be able to play two chords one after another. With blogs the problem is that at the beginning you have zero readers and you have to spend a lot of time preparing these stupid posts nobody will ever read. Very painful. But it’s totally transitory: if you keep doing the good work, people will come and will love your post written to nobody in the past. That’s a very key element of blogging: being able to go through the deep valley and wait until it blossoms. You have to have faith: it will be great.

Tip #5 – Find your own buddies. What is life without friends? I don’t have to tell you how to use twitter, Facebook, or Google plus right? Plus I don’t think there is a unique formula. But hey, make sure to build a thriving environment around your blogs and your ideas. Somebody said “No man is an island”, well this is especially true in this business. Find some buddies, share your ideas with them, test your ideas before writing a post, be exceedingly generous and genuine and people will gather around you.

Tip #6 – Experiment. Blogging is a constant experiment. You write a very successful post with a given strategy, you try to replicate it and it doesn’t work. I like to think about blogging as a radio knob you have to manipulate to find the right frequency to tune with your audience. The frequency is always shifting and your work is to be able to seek the right spot all the time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s not a big deal as long as you keep trying. Blogs, for instance can accommodate very different media and it’s a good idea to experiment with them. I experimented a few times with video and I was scared shitless because of it.

There are of course many other things you can do to make your blog successful, many of which I don’t know yet. Everyone has his own path, you have to find yours. I know one thing for sure: hard work always pays off. Always.

Need a good reason for opening a blog?

Hey, I hope I did not scare you too much up to this point. There is one thing I want to make sure you get out of this blog post: opening a blog may be one of the smartest choices you can make in your life. Again I could name hundreds of reasons why blogging is great but for me the most important one is that it feeds my mind in a way I could not get with other means. Blogging so far helped me, at least, in these many ways:

  • I became a much better writer
  • I became a sharper thinker (thanks to having to write what I think)
  • I know much better how the web works
  • I know many more great thinkers … and they know me
  • My ideas are debugged by a large crowd of people
  • If I have a burning question I have lots of people to whom I can ask
  • I get invited for talks
  • It feeds my research and my research feeds it
  • I might write a book one day thanks to it

I can testify that all the effort is definitely repaid by the myriad of benefits you can get. Some people do blogging for the money, and some are pretty successful, and some other for the glory. But whether you do it for the bling bling or not, the formula is always the same: you have to write epic shit. There are altruistic and egoistic benefits from blogging and they are all fine as long as you have a good balance. Blogging makes you grow internally, you find yourself improving in many ways, and it helps you having a powerful interface with the world. But it also helps people thrive thanks to your work, and that’s absolutely priceless.

Start a kick-ass visualization blog today!

Let me add one final remark. If you are thinking of opening a data visualization blog, a good one, please do it! We have a desperate need for quality content and I want to have my inbox filled up with exciting ideas. If you need more help send me a line or ask to professional bloggers. I do think there is a huge space for new blogs in this area, you just need to find your niche. For instance, I am looking forward to data visualization blogs related to one specific application area. Or, another great one I’d love to see is a blog with a frequent posting of interesting little visualization experiments. It’s up to you now, let’s make data visualization better together!

  • http://vis4.net/blog/ Gregor

    Nope, Enrico.

    Firstly, we shouldn’t give a dawn about the internets’ signal-to-noise ratio, and why should we? It’s just a few megabytes more. And we pay for this megabytes. And it’s our god-damn right to blog what and how we want.

    Secondly, all these occasional blog posts that you call “pollution” add up to something really valuable. Good morning, this is what we have search engines for. You have a problem, so let’s google things out. Back in the old days all you found was a list of mailing lists or forum discussions, full of people that have problems. Now you find a list of blog posts, written by people that have solutions.

    And let me tell you this: in the internet you don’t have to compete with other content providers. Publishing is cheap, and even if you’re the only reader of your lonesome blog, it might come handy to someone in the future. At least, as you mentioned, the blogging process provides real value to the blogger.

    My blog, for instance, has very few visitors, like 50 a day. In most cases I don’t really care about my posts, I just write them and click publish. It’s there to document by work.

    To get along with this discussion, let’s divide the visualization world into two groups. The first group is full of people who consume visualization or just want to jump upon the visualization hype to promote them self. That kind of folk that blogged about social media in 2010 and cares a lot about the traffic generated on their sites. All you said can perfectly be applied to this group.

    But, in contrast, the second group are the people that actually visualize data, may it be for big industries, for research or just to learn something for themselves. These are folks full of hands-on knowledge about visualization, what works technically, what works for clients, what is beloved by the audience – and they should blog about every boring single detail of their work.

  • http://epicgraphic.com/ Mark Johnstone

    Enrico,

    This post is very timely for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction and focus of my blog, and where it should go from here. I agree it’s a huge commitment, and to date, I could probably be considered a hobbyist blogger. I will need to give some thought to the specific gap I can and want to fill – thank you for providing further stimulus.

    I think I’d make some distinctions about ‘showcase blogs’. If it’s showcasing your own work, I think there’s definitely room for that (like any designer would want to showcase their portfolio). But curating other people’s stuff – I think you need to add something else (mainly insight).

    I also agree with Gregor that the signal to noise ratio is so low already, it doesn’t really matter if people add more noise. It would just be great to see them add more signal (as I’m sure they’d want to themselves). On the signal-to-noise aspect, it’s just about keeping your filters clean, whether search engines, who you follow on Twitter, your Google Reader account, forums, whatever medium you choose.

    For me, at the moment, the best blogs lean towards the academic side. I learn a lot from reading them, but it’s not necessarily the style I’d plump for myself.

    I think you should treat content like a business (or a career). How can you combine your strengths and passions to fill an un-served or under-served need?

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post!

  • http://vallandingham.me Jim V

    An interesting opinion Enrico!

    Certainly it seems, your voice and style trend towards topics and opinions that are a bit polarizing. Which is certainly a good thing — get people talking!

    I find my own opinions siding closer to Gregor (@driven_by_data). But its probably because I’m in precisely in the second camp of people he speaks of: folks attempting to create interesting visualizations – not necessarily to highlight other works, or discuss the theory behind various visualizations.

    Thus, I see my fledgling ‘blog’ as more of a portfolio + commentary. It provides a platform for me to distribute my work and information about my work effectively. It also provides a way for people to communicate back about my work. As Mark says, its a bit unique from other blogs because of my interesting combination of strengths.

    So far, I’ve been exceptionally fortunate to be picked up on larger ‘gallery’ style blogs a few times- and that is where my traffic has come from.
    This traffic is temporary – to be sure – but achieves the goal of my blog: to show what I am working on, what I am capable of, and to get feed back on places to grow / experiment with.

  • http://jeromecukier.net jerome cukier

    Hi Enrico,
    I’m not going to say why I’m on team Gregor on that one, although I appreciate your views and understand where you are coming from. I just wanted to contribute with something you don’t know. and my list of things you don’t know is pretty short so enjoy!
    so at the visweek meeting that you set up, at some point you left us for a long moment to receive the vast challenge grand prize. so what happens when somebody leaves the room, people talk about them! people wondered why you kept saying that you failed twice prior to finding your tone with your current blog. In the view of the people in the room, you were already doing a good job. That said, I stop everything I’m doing when I find out there’s a new post on FILWD which I didn’t do before, so, there.

    I don’t think the visualization showcase format is doomed. My impression was like yours, that Nathan and Andrew and Benjamin were pretty much catching every noteworthy visualization out there and commenting them. I really like the difference in their interest, their different sensitivity and and tone.
    But the fact is that to use a timely metaphor, they are covering the 1%. If that. the remaining 99% is not devoid of interest. sometimes, you’ll have a well-executed piece which is not revolutionary so it doesn’t catch the fancy of the high-flying blogs but it can be inspirational just from a design point of view. more often than not there could be a really clever snippet of code here or there that could make you think differently although the overall result is not incredible. Or one smart idea.
    Again with the onset of visual.ly I realize that the people with a connection to the infoVis science are a tiny, tiny part of those who are interested in data visualization in the broad sense.

    I also appreciate what you say about target posting schedule and if I read the subtext, not being fully committed to the blog. I think that Nathan Yau built flowingdata success by posting everyday. I am really admirative of that and I think that the internets rewarded him for his persistence and diligence. To that I’ll oppose another blog which I really like, NeoFormix by Jeff Clark, who posts with much less regularity, but again I really like what he’s doing and what he’s showing there. by that I mean that of course, in an ideal world a good blog would be a constant flow of insightful posts but it’s still possible to provide a lot of value without this constraint.

    finally my takeout of the last visWeek and your BOF meeting is that there are very few infoVis academics who blog. This strikes me as a paradox as there is so much concentrated expertise in academia and they could have so much to say even to more novice users.

    anyway. I’m expecting to discuss this live with you next time we meet which I don’t think will be in a too far future
    best,
    jerome

  • Sellahaadom

    What I really like about your blog, Enrico, is that you are true and you truly have thoughts to share. You had that on your list, but I just wanted to highlight them and gave them a higher priority! So the question is less a question of content, but rather the character or style if you want. E.g.: I do not think you would be the best junk chart blogger (and vica versa). But why should you?!
    You are the best FIWD blogger! That’s for sure:-) so keep on blogging how you are! Please! And thanks for your blogs. And I am still waiting formy muse to start mine…

  • http://www.edmatics.org Kevin

    Enrico,

    Thank you for this post. On a daily basis, I struggle with wanting to create a visualization just so I can throw it up on the site and say, “look at what I can do!” Fortunately, I have had some guidance which has kept me on task. I by no means am saying that I post on a regular basis, but I have managed to stay away from posting visualizations just to post visualizations.

    A constant problem I deal with is what to write. I have a passion for data visualization, and like you, I want my posts to contribute to the greater knowledge of the field. I feel as if I am too specific with my purpose of blogging, resulting in fewer blog posts and less traffic. So, how do you balance a specific blogging focus with regular posts? I think I found the answer within your post in that it takes a lot of time and work. Thanks for your honest input!

    Best,
    Kevin

  • Enrico

    Hi Gregor, hi everyone … it looks like I hit a nerve here! :-) I am sorry but in the end it helps everyone think more deeply about what we are doing and why, me included.

    While I totally respect your work and I fully understand your protest, I believe what you are doing is not blogging. What struck me the most from your argumentation is the extent to which your blogs are focused on serving your own purposes. For me blogging means being totally focused on the readers, it’s an act of generosity, a service to the world.

    Gregor: “My blog, for instance, has very few visitors, like 50 a day. In most cases I don’t really care about my posts, I just write them and click publish. It’s there to document by work.”

    Jim: “I see my fledgling ‘blog’ as more of a portfolio + commentary. It provides a platform for me to distribute my work and information about my work effectively.”

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong in publishing on the web your stuff for your own purposes and as a vehicle to point more people to your work, that’s great actually, but this is not blogging and by faking it as blogging might not even fully support your own goals!

    If the main goal of your blog is to show the stuff you make, well … why don’t you turn them in a real portfolio website, with lots of high resolution images, plenty of dedicated descriptions of how you made it, and beautiful design to blow people’s mind?

    Dammit! The more I think about it the more I can’t help thinking you guys have brilliant ideas and fantastic implementations but to my eyes it looks like you are not committed enough to blowing people’s mind, to help this huge mass of people out there who are thirsty for the knowledge and skills you have. The real motivation behind my blog post, now I understand it better myself, comes from the frustration of realizing you guys are not aiming high enough. You should accept the idea of becoming true leaders in this blogging business.

    Gregor, sure some of your geeky tricks might be found by a student in China who wants to implement a force directed layout in Processing, but why don’t you take the responsibility to build up a fully fledged web site, with structured information, an editorial line, a streamlined process people can use, etc? People are desperately in need of that! Why do you prefer to catch the casual googler by chance rather than trying to provide massive value? This is all in your hands guys. I know it’s hard, but it’s totally worth it.

    (There are another million things I’d like to say but I have no time to continue now. Anyway I want to thank you guys for expressing your concerns openly, they help me a lot go deeper into what I wrote.)

  • Enrico

    … sorry guys I just noticed there are several comments I totally overlooked. I owe a dedicated answer to each of you. I’ll be back soon. Thanks a lot for your appreciation and your deep insights.

  • http://www.sendung.de/ Marian

    I can see what you are trying to say, Enrico, but I can’t agree with the “only blog if you really mean to kick ass” tendency. As Gregor says, the Internet allows every one of us to create as little content of as little use as we want to. Of course, being the least visited blog out there can’t be a goal to pursue, but if it turns out that way, so be it. Nothing anyone else should worry about.

    You definitely hit a nerve, I guess. Probably I’m not the only “reflective practitioner” who both likes doing stuff and occasionally wants to talk about it. Similar to Gregor and I use my own blog to casually show things I do and talk about it, with low frequency – only 10 posts this year so far. And I found myself wondering if it’s useful that way. But it’s important to me that it’s a blog, because I care most about the feedback channel. Sure, I could call it portfolio, but wouldn’t that mean something different? I guess it would limit me to only write about “showcase” work and it wouldn’t invite others to comment, to grab the RSS URL and paste it in their Feed reader.

    Then stuff happens which tells me that it’s all right. Someone in a mailing list on radiation detection finds my work somewhere and links to my blog post. The post gets 2000 additional visits and 8 additional comments plus some personal emails. Great! Didn’t ask for more.

  • http://dataremixed.com Ben Jones

    Hi Enrico,

    Very provocative post, thank you for your thoughts. It has definitely caused me to reconsider what I am trying to accomplish with my brand new dataviz blog, and that’s a good thing. I like how you are challenging bloggers in this space to take it to the next level. There’s definitely a “crawl, walk, run” aspect to blogging, and since you are someone who is farther along that process than many others out there, your practical advice is very valuable, so thanks again.

    Regards,
    Ben

  • http://vis4.net/blog/ Gregor

    Hi Enrico,

    I definitely know what you mean by taking things to “the next level”. I do lot’s of projects, some of them are small interactive visualizations, some of them are bigger projects I’m working on for weeks or months. Some of them are paid client work, some I do for myself and the general public interest. Some have a more local scope, others have a global scope. After two years I finally learned that a blog is definitely not the ideal way to embed these projects into a bigger context. While a portfolio is perfect for the client works, it don’t work out well for other projects. Honestly, often I don’t really know where to put things in the right place. I tried to blog bi-lingual, but it didn’t work. I tried to split things into multiple blogs, but it didn’t really work.

    So you’re absolutely right, most of those projects deserve a fully fledged website. And, thanks to your post and this discussion, I learned that being too lazy to create those websites could possibly be a big mistake.

    FILWD really deserves the name kick-ass blog.

  • Enrico

    @Mark: I am glad to hear my advice is useful for you, that’s the main goal of the post. I am sorry we ended up discussing mostly the provoking part when in fact the main purpose is to give tips to prospective bloggers. Let me add that I am totally in favor of a blog with curated content! The Why Axis is an excellent example of such a blog and it’s a true gem. The only little concern I have with it is the frequency of his posts but the rest is really excellent.

    @Jim: I like your work a lot and as I said in my other comment I think it’s important to find the right platform and medium. I agree that it’s not easy and probably a combination of several media can be part of a given strategy. Nonetheless I still think a true portfolio is the best means. I also think that creative information visualizers should spend more time writing about the whole process behind their creations. Especially, I live it in the rare cases when a designer presents all the alternatives he tried, all the dead ends. I think this is immensely formative for any wannabe data visualization expert.

    @Jerome: It’s really kind of you to reveal good things people said about me when i was not there (for I moment I thought you wanted to reveal something bad! :-)). Anyway, I still think my two previous blogs where a failure. They did not have the right mindset. Yet, I am extremely grateful of the experience I had with them because I learned so much.

    Regarding the showcase, regardless the figures you cite I still think there is little space for blogs that show visualizations without additional information. There might be another player in the future but that would not make a big difference in terms of advancing the whole field.

    The frequency of blogs posts is not that important per se but it’s important to have a somewhat regular schedule or even better transmitting the idea to the readers that you are committed to providing quality output regularly. It also relates to the format. I tend to write very long blog posts and for this reason i think people understand that I cannot do that every day. But if my job is to post short mind-blowing posts of one or two sentences a la Seth Godin then it’s much more important to have a really tight schedule. The same is true for infosthetics and flowing data: they have to have a very tight schedule. So it’s not black and white.

    Regarding the academics, what can I say? Me and Robert are true academics. You have to understand academia is very conservative first. Second, professors have very many additional problems to deal with and blogging is yet another layer of complexity. But true, in other fields like biology or economics there are major players in academia who truly understand and exploit the power of blogging. But … infovis is a tiny area of research, I would not be to indulgent with it! C’mon, we are doing great!

    @Sellahaadom: What can I say? Thanks from the bottom of my heart!

    @Kevin: There’s no magic formula. I think the key ingredient is persistence. What I noticed in every single blogger I follow and like is the high level of persistence he has. Blogging is a struggle with lot of ups and downs, I think it’s a little bit like business (somebody said that and I agree), but the trick is to never give to much weight to any of those and just keep working. You work on a blog posts for a long time, you publish it and it’s a fiasco what do you do? Nothing, you keep working. You casually publish another one written in half and hour and you attract thousands of people in a few hours, what do you do? Nothing, you keep working. It’s this level of persistence that pays off in the long run. I learned a lot by reading how famous writers deal with the whole process, and this is exactly what they do. You might want to read Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” or Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”.

    @Marian: I understand your point and I commented on that above. I understand that the blogging platform is very handy for people like you, Gregor and Jim to distribute your work. But using a blogging platform doesn’t make your a blogger. I think this is the main point here. Maybe it’s just a matter of terminology but I still think it’s important to be clear what’s the main goal of the things we distribute on the web and why we do it in a certain way.

    @Ben: Thanks for your comment. Good luck with your blog! Let me know how it goes, I am looking forward to read mind-blowing or content-rich blog posts.

    @Gregor: I really appreciated your honest feedback and your desire to challenge my view. I learned a lot by having to think about it more in depth. As I said, I understand there is a problem of platform and also of priorities (working on the next project of settings up my web site?) but I also think the trick is to put in perspective short-term and long-term goals. The proper medium might really pay off in the long term.

    Thanks a lot to all of you guys. I loved this conversation!

  • http://vallandingham.me Jim V

    @Enrico Thanks so much for the feedback and this great discussion. I’d certainly agree with your suggestion that more should be written on the details of the process that goes into a particular piece. Stuff like Moritz Stefaner’s talk eyeo talk is great and really provides an opportunity for others to learn the how’s and why’s of a particular piece.

    Perhaps we need a http://usesthis.com/ for data visualizers? I would love this.

    I still would say that people need to pick their battles when it comes to creating online content. Sometimes a well-crafted blog post is needed. Sometimes its just info that could be useful to someone somewhere – and you want to get it out of your head quickly.

    thanks again.

  • http://infovis.uni-konstanz.de/~mansmann Florian Mansmann

    Enrico,

    I really like your statement “My ideas are debugged by a large crowd of people”, but isn’t a blog some kind of an archived web publication? In that case your buggy ideas are out there and everyone can criticize you for them. Do you see the dilemma?

    Greetings from next door!
    Florian

    PS: I really like your controversial style of engaging people into the topic!

  • http://chartporn.org Dustin

    Hey Enrico,

    Interesting post. It’s a bit naval gazing – but hey, it’s a big internet and there’s room for everyone. Chartporn started out as a personal rolodex of design examples that I could reference when looking for inspiration. It’s slowly grown and I’ve experimented with different kinds of posts and analysis – but basically, it’s still very much just a reflection of my curatorial tastes. I share stuff I think is interesting – whether it’s because of the content, because of the design, or because of novelty – and my readers seem to enjoy my choices. I’d love to write detailed design breakdowns of each chart, book reviews, tutorials, etc – but my time just doesn’t allow it. So in the meantime, I’ll keep sharing good vis.

    Happy Blogging,
    Dustin

    • Enrico

      Thanks Dustin for your comment. I understand what you mean and I realize there are many successful bloggers who use the same template: show stuff you think is cool. I am totally fine with it, especially when it’s done professionally (as you and other guys do), but I still think we need to do more. Showing curated (or just cool) stuff is only one piece of the puzzle, and I would like to see the puzzle. I always try to imagine how hard must it be for a novice wannabe visualization expert to find his way into this jungle.

  • Ermolay Romanoff

    First stop on the way to a better data vis blog – better blog visualisation. I found it yesterday – it looks like a really cool wall-of-text. I’ll probably stay away for a while before I start reading (I subscribed though).

    Find a better design.

    • Enrico

      Thanks Ermolay, looking forward to your comments!

  • Pingback: 4 Data Viz Blogging Lessons Learned | DataRemixed

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