#DataVizChat 19/01 – The new kid on the block

Today I hosted the first #DataVizChat and I am very happy with the result! There were 8 participants who chatted with me about data visualisation. The aim was to understand the community a bit better and get to know each other a bit better.

As a warm up I asked everybody to introduce themselves by telling us where they are from and how long they are working in the field of data visualisation. The answers turned out to be pretty diverse, participants were from the US, Jamaika, the UK and India and from 17 years to 2 months we had very different amounts of experience. This was actually an outcome I had hoped for, mix of participants who can learn from each other!

As a follow up on this, I was interested how people actually end up working in data visualisation. Is it a conscious choice or rather by chance?

The common theme was that it wasn’t a conscious decision and everybody somehow ended up doing data visualisation. While for some it developed organically as a progression from traditional reporting in excel or more technical data engineering work, at least two of us were actively looking for something different. However that this “something” ended up being data visualisation often seems to be due to chance, be it by discovering a new tool or by being surrounded by people who influence decisions.

From here we kept diverging into a few different conversations.

Mark and Sam talked about the advantages of coming from a technical and a design background respectively and how the influence of support of superiors and colleagues has a huge impact on how smoothly this transition happens.

It also seems that many people have experiences with a bit of a skewed view of data visualisation. With it being their job to “colour things in” and to “POOF make data pretty”, which often seems to be because they don’t know the process before they actually see the finished product.

Apart from these theme related topics, we learned that people have eaten Guinea Pig, Squirrel, Ackee, Balut and Cricket. I let you figure out who that was and what some of those are (just for the faint-hearted, maybe don’t google “Balut”!).

In total we had 8 people joining during the hour with another 3 or 4 chipping in later during the day. What I especially liked was that people I didn’t know before joined, so I personally actually accomplished what I set out to do: Getting to know new people! So a huge thanks for everybody who joined the discussion!

I enjoyed the discussion and will put on another #DataVizChat in a couple of weeks, in the meantime, leave some feedback here or send it via twitter and stay tuned for the next event!

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