Jury Member: “Information is Beautiful Awards” (London)

I felt honoured to be part of the jury of this year’s “Kantar Information Is Beautiful Awards”. The awards’ winners were announced last night in London, and I regret very much that I couldn’t make it to London as the evening must have been a blast, with a lot of creative and intelligent minds from the field of information visualisation convened at a Soho hotel. As usual, the sheer number and the quality of entries to the awards was highly impressive, and it was a real challenge to pick favourites from this wealth of brilliant projects. The works in the shortlist were divided into several categories such as data visualisation, infographic, data journalism, interactive etc. The winners can be found here.

I would like to point out a few pieces from the shortlist that impressed or captivated me:

I very much liked the Berlin noise map produced by the interactive team at Berliner Morgenpost in September. As a Berliner, this of course has a particular appeal to me as I can stroll the neighbourhoods I frequently visit, but I also think it features a great way to map a particular set of data (note that the basemap is not actually a map, but a satellite view – which works great in this design and with the colour dots chosen for the noise values, based on a colour scheme by Beate Weniger). Congratulations to the team around Julius Tröger for winning the Best Team award.

Berlin noise map by Berliner Morgenpost (Screenshot)
Berlin noise map by Berliner Morgenpost (Screenshot)

The project “The rise of partisanship in the US House of Representatives” captivated my mind as it is a compelling visualisation of long-term political processes within US domestic policies. In a series of network diagrams, the creators clearly reveal the rising polarisation between Democrats and Republicans, with representatives engaging in less and less cooperation across party lines over the course of the past 60 years. This project website provides each network in a detail view containing the individual representatives’ names.

Composite view of "The Rise of Partisanship in the U.S. House of Representatives", a project by Mauro Martino, Clio Andris
Composite view of “The Rise of Partisanship in the U.S. House of Representatives”, a project by Mauro Martino, Clio Andris

In the category “Data Viz Project” I found it particularly hard to pick a favourite, with Nicholas Felton’s tenth “Feltron Report”, Giorgia Lupi’s and Stephanie Posavec’s “Dear Data” project and “On Broadway” (by Lev Manovich, Moritz Stefaner et al.) all forming part of the selection.

Since all these are much talked about online, I would like to point out a few other entries which may be less shiny but brilliant nonetheless: I really also liked No Ceilings.org as it is a nifty and captivating data project on an important topic of our time, i.e. the situation of women and girls around the world. Same goes for The Digital Divide, a website with stories and an interactive data tool, which I particularly liked for its rigour and ease of use.

"The Digital Divide" by Kevin Pollock et al. (Screenshot)
“The Digital Divide” by Kevin Pollock et al. (Screenshot)

The London-based agency “After the flood” appeared with a project that I liked for its conceptual design: They created a map of London which presents the diverse London boroughs as tiles, with only some characteristic curves of the Themse as an additional geographic reference. This base map refers to the mental map of London which inhabitants of the city all have stored in their memory and provides a slick background to visualise borough-based data sets. I really liked it as the concept combines cartography and the idea of mental maps with the concept of small multiples – and all that in a great design.

London Squared Map by "After the Flood"
London Squared Map by “After the Flood”

There were loads of other interesting projects and unfortunately I can’t discuss everything here in depth. As a last side note I thought it was great that both Andy Kirk (“Best Visualisation Website”) and Mike Bostock (“Free Data Vis Tool”) received awards as I really appreciate their contributions.

But now you will have to excuse me please as I have to go study the “Visual Introduction on Machine Learning”, a project which won the “Individual Achievement” award…

A Visual Introduction to Machine Learning using interactive data visualisations by Stephanie Yee & Tony Shu (Screenshot)
A Visual Introduction to Machine Learning using interactive data visualisations by Stephanie Yee & Tony Shu (Screenshot)