Modern media burps stories. Foreground:  a blood-shot eyed stick figure freaks out (your instincts).
Modern media is sort just burping tons of stories at you. And you eat it up, cuz evolution. And no systems-level problems get solved.

We’ve all felt it: the sense of overwhelm and helplessness after scrolling through news updates. Everything seems plagued with intractable problems, and all we can do is watch.

But this feeling is not a reflection of reality.

It’s a reflection of our species’ immature communication tools.

If our species is to survive (and thrive), we need to invent media forms that harness storytelling to understand complex social systems.

The engineering (and human) genius that brings ideas to life

Building software at a small startup is crazy challenging. There’s lots of work and little structure. You play many roles. You’re on tight deadlines.

Startups demand a very different work style than larger companies do. An established company builds and maintains a product. A young startup runs experiments to explore what product to make — and if a product should even exist at all.

Through it all, startups push us to confront our deepest held instincts — both as engineers and humans.

So what does a great engineer do to thrive in an early-stage startup? …

Just trust me

This is how Anjana Vakil began her JSUnconf talk about functional programming in Javascript:

“About six months ago, I knew nothing about functional programming and very little about JavaScript. I am not an expert in any of this, so this is going to be me taking you along on my learning journey and nothing more.”

Her talk has over a million views.

How did Anjana Vakil create such a wildly popular resource on a topic she clearly didn’t have the expertise to teach?

Well, have you ever had this thought: There are so many experts out there. I don’t have…

With a single line of code

D3 animation of a radial chart to lollipop charts
Building complex, animating visualizations with just D3.js and vanilla Javascript gets messy fast. The Hook use-d3-transition makes this task easy by letting you use the React modularity you know and love (like in the GIF above!)

TLDR: Want a custom React hook that makes D3.js transitions/animations easy in React? Check out my npm package use-d3-transition.

Pass the attributes you want to animate, and then use what useD3Transition returns to you! Done.

What We Want: React + D3 Transitions

We just love those D3 oh-so-smooth animations/transitions.

And gosh, we love React’s declarative-ness and composability (especially when building complex data visualizations.)

So, can you have D3 transitions in React?

You Can…but, Currently, It’s a Bit of a Pain

D3/data visualization goddess Shirley Wu does amazing work explaining ways of combining React and D3 (slide summary, video).

But in my opinion, if you don’t have time to majorly refactor (or an appetite for React anti-patterns)…

Illustration by Natalia Kiseleva (eolay13)

On a dedicated channel, #dvs-topics-in-data-viz, in the Data Visualization Society Slack, our members discuss questions and issues pertinent to the field of data visualization. Discussion topics rotate every two weeks, and while subjects vary, each one challenges our members to think deeply and holistically about questions that affect the field of data visualization. At the end of each discussion, the moderator recaps some of the insights and observations in a post on Nightingale. You can find all of the other discussions here.

A woman sits cross-legged, a laptop and an array of in-progress data visualizations scattered around her.
Illustration by Natalia Kiseleva (eolay13)

Part 1 of a series on creating a culture where dataviz professionals thrive and unlock the power of your data.

There’s an incredible, untapped opportunity…

It’s no secret: the explosion of data continues to revolutionize organizations. Across the world, forward-thinking leaders embrace this opportunity, pioneering new ways for their organizations to utilize their data. As data floods in, a new kind of data expert is rising up, equipped with the rare skills to bridge the gap between complex information and the human insight and understanding needed to harness it: the Data Visualization Practitioner.

While data scientists give you the raw material to be “data-driven,” dataviz professionals provide the data vision: they make critical information useful to those who need it most. The tools they create…

David Mora

Systems storyteller & software engineer.

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