#dataviz inspiration


Almost three months ago by now, Tiziani Alocci asked the #dataviz community on Twitter who inspired them to become a data visualization practitioner. Her tweet sparked a long thread, resulting in a sort of impromptu "who's who" of the community.

I extracted the "who inspired who" information from this twitter thread to basically see who was mentioned most often. Please feel free to have at it if you have a great idea! You can find the data file here.

Those that inspired

Of the 165 replies to Tiziani's question, 157 came from accounts directly linked to people. The remaining eight came from conference, software and studio accounts. All together, they mentioned 210 people and things as inspiration (137 people and 43 "non-people" accounts).

Looking at the personal accounts, one of the first things that stood out to me was the gender imbalance [2], both in the people that answered (30 female 127 male) and in the people mentioned as inspiration (32 female 136 male) [3]. Given the large number of men in the dataset, both men and women overwhelmingly mentioned men as their inspiration, but it seems as though women are more likely to mention a woman as inspiration (Fisher's exact test, p = 0.0391). You can find all the R code I wrote for the data processing and analyses on GitHub.

The bar graph below gives a complete overview of all the people and things (studios, research labs, news agencies...) that were mentioned as sources of data visualization inspiration and the number of times they were mentioned.

Who inspires the 'inspirers'?

Some of the people and studios that were mentioned as inspirations actually joined in on the Twitter thread with their own sources of inspiration. I thought it would be interesting to see who or what inspires the "inspirers".

It's all in the network

Finally, I plotted the data as a network graph. It shows a tightly interconnected network, with no clearly discernable clusters. There is kind of a "Mike Bostock - Nadieh Bremer - Shirley Wu" group at the top right corner and a design studio/research lab group at the bottom (DensityDesign, Stamen Design, Stefanie Posavec, accurat). But as I said, nothing glaringly obvious here, at least to me.

Hover over the nodes to see the associated name and Twitter account, their inspirations , and the people and/or things they inspired . Click on a node to be taken to the corresponding Twitter page.

  • Number of people inspired 0  → 21
  • Inspired by
  • Inspiration for

[1] This woman depicts one of the Muses in Nicolas Poussin's classical oil painting "The Inspiration of the Poet". ↑ back up

[2] Gender attribution was based on people's names and/or profile pictures. I apologize for any and all mistakes I may have made. ↑ back up

[3] I took some advice from Lisa Charlotte Rost's blog post on gender colors: "An alternative to pink & blue: Colors for gender data"." ↑ back up