April 2 & 3, 2020

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 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 two parts: a conference (afternoon) and workshops / tracks & closing talks (the next day). The entire conference will be in English.


Thursday, April 2

12.15 – 13.00        registration
13.00 – 13.10        SANDRA RENDGEN
Sandra Rendgen is Head of Design at Berlin-based visualisation studio Infographics Group. She has previously worked as an independent author, concept developer and strategic consultant with a focus on data visualisation, interactive media and the history of infographics. 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.

Sandra will be the moderator of the conference.
13.10 – 13.45        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.
13.45 – 14.20        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.
14.20 – 14.50        break
14.50 – 15.25        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 visualisations 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.

"That time I switched careers to avoid freedom". Rules in data viz are like the grammar for our languages: Both help us put elements together so that others can make sense out of them. If this is the goal of our visualisations (to communicate something successfully), you won't get around data viz rules. But it's not all black & white: Data viz is still a design discipline. And design comes with personal preferences. In this talk, Lisa will talk about grey spaces, artistic freedom and why she switched careers to have less of it, and why she feels so comfortable to talk about data viz principles.
15.25 – 16.00        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.

"Design For Your Audience": OK, But How? 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.
16.00 – 16.30        break
16.30 – 17.05        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.

"Dataglitches: a high-five to broken charts". 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.
17.05 – 17.40        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 Data Viz Multiverse". 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.
17.40 – 17.50        closing remarks
17.50 – 19.20        drinks

Friday, April 3

09.00 – 09.30        registration
Participants need to choose 1 of the 3 tracks. Registration for one of the tracks needs to be done when you register for the conference.
Track 1        Workshop ANDY KIRK / RJ ANDREWS

09.30 – 12.30 WORKSHOP ANDY KIRK
This workshop aims to provide delegates with an appreciation of the decision making process that underpins the effective visual communication of data. During this short workshop, Andy Kirk will facilitate a concept design activity, with participants working on parallel small group projects to build up, stage by stage, a detailed specification for a potential data visualisation solution. Along the way Andy will expose attendees to a broad array of visual design options and equip them with the means to make robust and informed decisions about the best charts to use, relevant interactive features, helpful annotated assistance, colour choices and spatial composition. The approach to this session will not be framed around any specific tools or applications.

There is a maximum of 30 seats for this workshop!

12.30 lunch break

13.45 – 16.15 WORKSHOP RJ ANDREWS (more information soon)
Track 2        Workshop HANNAH DAVIS / RJ ANDREWS

10.00 – 12.30 WORKSHOP RJ ANDREWS (more information soon)

12.30 lunch break

Challenge yourself to use different senses to work with data. In this workshop we will introduce you to the field of data sonification or turning data into sound. We'll look at different real-world examples, and see data from politics, sports, literature, and others turned into sound and music. We'll look at the various types of data sonification, and how to decide which types are best suited for which types of data. We'll see how to implement data sonification with several different tools. We'll also look at music generation as a subset of data sonification. By the end of the workshop, participants will understand the field of data sonification and be able to implement it using a tool of their choice.

NOTE: this is a programming workshop, where we'll be using both p5.js and Python. It will be beginner friendly, but you should know how to run a p5.js sketch or a Python script. Non-programmers who would like to watch or pair up with a programmer are also welcome to attend. We have 5 spots for non-programmers for this workshop. Please bring your personal laptop and a pair of headphones. It is designed for Mac users but other operating systems are welcome as long as you are comfortable with command line tools and Python library installations.

There is a maximum of 20 seats for this workshop!
Track 3        Research - science STEVE HAROZ / EVANTHIA DIMARA / KATIE PEEK

At the research / science track we focus on a few important researches that have been done in the past years. We specifically look at the impact of these researches for our work as practitioners. We also share some insights of how to visualise scientific information for a broader audience. All speakers will share their findings in an interactive way with the participants.

There is a maximum of 50 seats for this track!



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.

Perceiving the Gist: Quick but Biased. 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:
• when we make decisions, are we better off viewing lots of data or just a summary?
• do we use all the visualised data?
• what properties of the data might bias our ability 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.


Evanthia Dimara is a research scientist at the Data Analysis and Visualisation laboratory of University of Konstanz. 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.

Interaction is fundamental to data visualisation, but what "interaction" means in the context of visualisation is ambiguous and confusing.

12.30 lunch break



Katie Peek, Ph.D., is a journalist and data visualisation designer who specializes in print graphics for science magazines.

"Zebras in Central Park and Other Lessons From Science". Astrophysics requires a particular blend of data instinct, intuition for what drives trends, and creativity in testing hypotheses (after all, astronomers experiment on objects they can never touch). Katie relies on her astrophysics training for every single graphic she develops, its lessons so deeply baked in she often don't realize she is using them. For this talk, Katie will identify the tenets of her scientist's approach to data visualisation. She'll also examine how they spar with the rules of graphic design and journalism, the three disciplines critical for creating interesting visual stories that stay true to the data behind them. Katie will share plenty of examples of her work, pulling back the curtain on the pitfalls that arose as she created each and identifying the strategies that allowed her to (usually) sidestep disaster.

16.30 – 16.50        break
16.50 – 17.50        RJ ANDREWS / SANDRA RENDGEN
The closing talks of the conference will be held by RJ Andrews and Sandra Rendgen

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.

Sandra Rendgen is Head of Design at Berlin-based visualisation studio Infographics Group. She has previously worked as an independent author, concept developer and strategic consultant with a focus on data visualisation, interactive media and the history of infographics. 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.

More information will follow soon


Conference and workshops: Anatomiegebouw

Anatomiegebouw, Bekkerstraat 141, Utrecht
This historical building, once part of the University of Utrecht, was designed by architect Joseph Crouwel. The theater where the conference will take place, 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.



S-H-O-W is organised by Graphic Hunters, a training institute on data visualisation.
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 as a volunteer
please send a mail to SHOW@GraphicHunters.nl

Graphic Hunters will invite speakers from abroad to the conference, who in most cases
travel by plane to the Netherlands. CO2 emissions from these flights will be compensated
by contributing to Trees for All.


The price for the full conference is € 395,- (exempt from VAT).
This includes catered drinks, snacks during breaks and (only second day) lunch.

There are a limited number of seats (105) to the conference.

When you buy a ticket for the full conference, you also need to register for one of the workshops / tracks that take place on Friday April 3. There are a limited number of seats for some of the tracks.

Graphic Hunters offers 3 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 conference; travel expenses or overnight stay are not included. Tickets will be randomly picked on February 20, 2020.



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