S-H-O-W conference, November 27 & 28, 2020

Online & Utrecht, the Netherlands

Conference 2020

How can we help our audience to make more sense of data visualisations? How can we help to make it more understandable? One way is to work with rules. Rules about colour, axis, size, shapes, interactivity, etc. We can’t expect our audience to take the time to decode complex and beautiful visualisations, but we can design the conditions to aim for that. If we as practitioners use rules in a clear way, the reader can understand a data visualisation more intuitively. On the other hand, even with all the rules, every data visualisation is unique and different. The creativity is obviously in the rules. We can use the creativity to play around with and search for new and exiting ways of expression to connect with our audiences.

At the second S-H-O-W conference in November 2020 we will examine, learn and discuss the rules. We look at how to make them and break them.
The S-H-O-W conference exists of talks and discussions. The entire conference will be in English.

You can join the conference online or (limited seats) at the Anatomiegebouw in Utrecht. Please note that all time indications are CET.



10:00 – 10:10         OPENING AMANDA PATIST
Amanda Patist is a Self-Service Analytics coach at Cargill, where she helps to empower people to make data driven decisions locally, quickly and reliably. Amanda started her data journey in Biomedical Science and made the change to data viz when she joined The Data School at the Information Lab in London. Since moving to Amsterdam, she has joined the board of Viz for Social Good and has helped to set up Data Plus Women in The Netherlands. In September Amanda was the moderator of the pre S-H-O-W event.
10:15 – 10:55         MANUEL LIMA
A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, named "one of the 50 most creative and influential minds" by Creativity magazine, Manuel Lima is the founder of VisualComplexity.com, Design Lead and Startup Mentor at Google, and a regular lecturer of data visualisation at Parsons School of Design.

He has over 15+ years of experience designing digital experiences and leading product teams at companies like Google, Microsoft, Nokia, and R/GA. Manuel is the author of three books translated into several languages. His latest, The Book of Circles: Visualizing Spheres of Knowledge (2017), covers 1,000 years of humanity's long-lasting obsession with all things circular.

11:00 – 11:40         SANDRA RENDGEN
Sandra Rendgen is an independent author, concept developer and strategic consultant with a focus on data visualisation, interactive media and the history of infographics. For the past year she worked as Head of Design at Berlin-based visualisation studio Infographics Group. Her academic background is in art history and cultural theory. She is the author of several books in the field, most recently The Minard System and History of Infographics.

Visualising data is a complex process which requires an astonishing variety of skills and experiences. At times, the term „visualisation“ seems to suggest that all you need to do is pour numerical data into a visual template, and the increasing use of visualisation tools supports this notion. But the process of transforming abstract information into a visual is by far more complex than that. A visualisation does not just come about, it has to be developed in a long series of creative and editorial decisions.

The search for rules is the search for guidance in these decisions. We have come a long way in understanding how visualisations are read and interpreted, but most likely, we will never get to a point where rules can completely substitute the knowledge and intuition of an experienced designer. Her talk provides a brief reflection on how our current set of basic design rules came into being, and on the role they have in our field today.
11:45 – 12:45        BREAK
12:45 – 13:25         LISA CHARLOTTE ROST
Lisa Charlotte Rost is a designer and blogger at Datawrapper, a web-based charting tool for journalists. She's been writing and talking about data viz (and its rules) for a few years now and has created data visualizations for newsrooms like NPR, Bloomberg, SPIEGEL & ZEIT Online. Based in Berlin, she co-organizes the Data Vis meetup and spends too much time on Twitter.

When she studied visual design, Lisa was taken aback from the subjectivity of it all. Good design is hard to explain, and even harder to create. So she was excited when discovering data visualization. It's still design (and there are many aspects of design she loves), but far better explainable design. There are clear rules.

Lisa spent the past few years learning about these rules and explaining them to the audience of the Datawrapper blog. In this talk, she'll talk about the beauty of rules, why it's so important to her to write them up, and where they fail miserably.
13:30 – 14:10         GIOVANNI MAGNI
Giovanni Magni is a designer. His work is focused on data-driven explorations and experiences. He is currently working as Head of data visualization at Accurat, a design studio based in Milano and New York City.

Initially conceived as a pure aesthetic tribute to data visualisation, this collection of drafts and mistakes soon became much more. In this talk Giovanni will give context to the images collected explaining their role and evolution within the design process.
14:15 – 14:45         BREAK
14:45 – 15:25         ANDY KIRK
Andy Kirk is a UK-based data visualisation specialist, consultant, trainer, author and researcher. He founded the website VisualisingData, where a lot of resources and references can be found. Andy delivers workshops on information visualisation and graphic literacy all around the world. In 2012 he wrote his first book on data visualisation (Data Visualisation: a succesfull design process). In 2016 he released his second book (Data Visualisation: a Handbook for Data Driven Design), that had a restyle in 2019.

In this talk Andy Kirk unpacks what it actually means to design for your audience. He will explore the different aspects of classifying audience characteristics around motivation, capability, capacity and pressure. Additionally, he'll look at the different settings in which audiences may encounter or experience visualisations, and how these affect design choices. Finally, Andy will reflect on ways of making data more relatable and participatory to amplify the possibility of impact.
15:30– 16:10         KATIE PEEK
Katie Peek, Ph.D., is a journalist and data visualisation designer who specializes in print graphics for science magazines. She is a contributing artist at Scientific American and regularly creates pieces for Audubon and the New York Times. She has also illustrated several books, including Magnitude: The Scale of the Universe and Einstein's Shadow: A Black Hole, a Band of Astronomers, and the Quest to See the Unseeable. Originally an astronomer, she also holds a degree in science journalism and is the former graphics editor for Popular Science. She lives in Baltimore.

The audience can shape a graphic just as much as the source data can. Katie will examine how the same data sets might morph into a multiverse of visualisations, each appropriate to the readership that will encounter them. What rules change as the audience does? And which rules stay the same for everyone? She will compare published graphics in different magazines, as well as re-imagine a few of her own graphics for experts, laypeople, children, and other hypothetical audiences.
16:15 – 17:15         BREAK
17:15– 17:55         HANNAH DAVIS
Hannah Davis is a generative musician and researcher based in NYC. She is the creator of TransProse, which programmatically translates text into a musical piece with a similar emotional tone. Her generated music has been played at The Louvre, the BMW Museum, the Fabrica Alta, and others. Currently, she is recording an album using generative techniques.

In this talk, Hannah will show her experiments in data sonification - from translating books into music based on their emotional content, to creating musical stories from historical sound samples, to creating melodies from interesting datasets, to more recent experiments in generating music from video. She will talk about the overlaps with generative music, machine learning, and subjective data, and talk about the invisible structures that can create meaningful output.
18:00– 18:40         ADRIEN SEGAL
Adrien Segal is an artist based in Oakland, California. Drawing from landscape, science, history, emotion, and perception, her sculpture synthesizes information into knowledge as an intently human experience. Her work has been exhibited internationally since 2007, and is published in several books and academic journals. She has been awarded numerous Artist Residencies across the US, Canada, and Europe. Adrien was the Latham Fellow at IIT Institute of Design in Chicago in 2020, and has held Visiting Artist positions at Benchspace Cork in Ireland, and at California College of the Arts, where she teaches art and design.

Some of the earliest representations of data were physical artifacts and objects used to record and track quantified data. In fact, much of the data that has been historically collected from the natural world is inherently physical–tree rings, ice cores, layers of sedimentation– information is embedded in the physical structure of these material formations. By translating digital data into physical forms and materials, sensory perception, spatial cognition, and experience become the means by which information is communicated into knowledge. Adrien will share her data sculptures and her creative process, and will discuss how the emotional nature of human experience drives how we seek to answer fundamental questions about life.
18:50– 19:30         RJ ANDREWS
Award-winning data storyteller RJ Andrews is author and founder of Info We Trust. He helps organizations solve information problems. Prior to concentrating on data visualization, RJ worked for NASA, the National Science Foundation, and Raytheon. He holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and Master of Science in Engineering from Northeastern University.

A zany tour through the norms governing (and thwarting) our most stalwart chart. We will examine the emergence, evidence, examples, and exceptions to bar chart rules. Along the way we will consider creative approaches lost and errors that somehow persist to today. Most of all, we will see how important it is to be persistent in our vigilance toward designing charts that inform. Learn how to bar chart and unlock understanding of all charts and graphs.


09:50 – 09:55         OPENING
10:00 – 10:40         STEVE HAROZ
Steve Haroz is a research scientist at Inria in Saclay, France. His research explores how the brain perceives and understands visually displayed information like charts and graphs.

Visualisation creators often aim to "show the data" by presenting many raw individual items rather than only a simple summary statistic (such as an average). This approach allows viewers to see a "gist" or overview of the data, but it raises some important questions:
• Are the rules the same when showing a few values vs. when showing many values?
• When we make decisions, are we better off viewing lots of data or just a summary?
• What properties of the data might bias our ability to perceive an accurate overview?

Steve Haroz will discuss how the visual system makes quick judgments using lots of information. Moreover, he'll present empirical research that shows limitations on our ability in our precision and neutrality when viewing visualisations.
10:45 – 11:25         EVANTHIA DIMARA
Evanthia Dimara is a prospective Assistant Professor of Data Visualization at Utrecht University. Her fields of research are Human-Computer Interaction and Information Visualisation. She focusses on decision making -- how to help people make unbiased and informed decisions alone or in groups. Evanthia is especially interested in the kinds of decisions for which the current decision-support systems, models and people's heuristics tend to fail.

While the visualization community has iteratively structured and formalized the representation aspect of visualization (e.g., guidelines, rules, frameworks), significantly less attention has been paid to the interaction aspect. The nature and role of interaction has actually sparked discussions and arguments since the visualization field was created. And while HCI and UX research study interaction rules for years, visualization researchers and practitioners can not necessarily see how to apply them to their own data-oriented practices and needs.

Evanthia discusses the role of interaction in data visualization:
• What do we really mean by "interaction" in data visualization?
• Can a static visualisation be interactive?
• Is there a way to compare the "interactivity" of different visualizations?
• Which are the current interaction techniques in visualization?
• How can we design novel interactions?
11:30 – 12:00         BREAK
12:00 – 12:40         SHADI EL HAJJ
Shadi El Hajj is a creative technology consultant operating at the intersection of software engineering, R&D and digital art. He has worked for international clients over the last 15 years, while creating digital dance performances, interactive installations and algorithmic visuals at international festivals.

Language and communication imply a set of mutually agreed upon rules and conventions, while aesthetic emotion often stems from unexpected relationships and metaphors, deviation from the norm, a sense of wonder and serendipity. In the context of data visualisation, developing a visual language comes with its own set of challenges, having been traditionally more concerned with conveying information clearly and factually. However, adding an emotional and experiential dimension to our visualisations can turn them into an efficient communication vector. We will be looking at strategies to semantically connect form to data and explore the emotional potential of metaphor, while still maintaining intelligibility and enabling rational decoding.
12:45 – 13:25         BORIS MULLER
Boris is professor for Interaction Design in Potsdam (Germany) and co-director of the Urban Complexity Lab – a research space at the intersection of design, science and the humanities. He has received a diploma in Graphic Design from the Hochschule für Künste Bremen (College of Art and Design Bremen, Germany) and a MA in Computer Related Design from the Royal College of Art London. His award-winning work focuses on generative design, data visualization and science communication.

Great visualisations rely on the successful combination of science and design. Especially the design aspect of a visualisation is not yet fully formalised. So during the development, creativity & innovation are as important as clarity & usability. Balancing these two approaches is not trivial. An innovative and creative visual representation might be harder to understand. On the other hand, established and accessible visualisation techniques are inadequate for certain topics and data sets. The question which rules need to be uphold and which can be broken depends on the context, the aims of the project and the use case. In his talk, Boris will discuss the dichotomy of creativity vs. usability in the context of data visualisation. He will present projects and methodologies ranging from generative design to speculative interfaces, co-design workshops and UX sketching.
13:30– 13:40         CLOSING



Anatomiegebouw, Bekkerstraat 141, Utrecht
This historical building, once part of the University of Utrecht, was designed by architect Joseph Crouwel. The theater was used to host lectures on veterinary anatomy. You can still see the rails in the floor where the bigger animals were brought in.

We recommend to travel by public transport to the Anatomiegebouw. There are several bus connections from the central railroad station in Utrecht to bus stop Wittevrouwen. From here it is only a few minutes to the venue. If you will travel by car, the best option to park your car is at Car Park Grifthoek. Please note that you can also join the conference online. We have only limited seats for the Anatomiegebouw on Friday November 27.



S-H-O-W is organised by Graphic Hunters, a training institute on data visualisation
based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. If you have questions about the conference
please send a mail to SHOW@GraphicHunters.nl.
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn for news and updates about the event.
The entire conference will be in English.

if you want to become a partner or sponsor, or want to help out in any other way
please send a mail to SHOW@GraphicHunters.nl


November conference
There will be two options for tickets: you can follow the conference online or you can come to Utrecht, watch the talks on a big screen and meet some of the participants. There are limited seats (40) at the venue on Friday November 27 only. Please note that there are no speakers at the venue; all talks are virtual .

Graphic Hunters offers 5 free diversity tickets.
One of the aims of the conference is to stimulate diversity. Not only in the representation of speakers but also the attendees. If you are or know of anyone who is interested in attending from a under-represented community in data visualisation, or somebody who doesn't have the financial means to join the conference, please send a mail to SHOW@GraphicHunters.nl. The diversity tickets cover only the cost for the (online) conference; travel expenses or overnight stay are not included. We will randomly pick 5 diversity tickets on Thursday November 12.