#datamustread: Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics (2nd Edition) by Nathan Yau

A bookshelf neatly arranged with several books on data visualization and analytics: Displayed in the center is the 2nd edition of "Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics" by Nathan Yau. Surrounding this book are various other titles, including those by the Alexander Loth: "Decisively Digital", "Teach Yourself VISUALLY Power BI", "Visual Analytics with Tableau", "Datenvisualisierung mit Tableau", "Datenvisualisierung mit Power BI", and "KI für Content Creation." Other visible titles include "Rewired" and "Self-Service BI & Analytics." The arrangement highlights a strong focus on data visualization, analytics, and AI.
The 2nd edition of Visualize This by Nathan Yau, surrounded by several influential data and AI books, including my own works like Decisively Digital and Teach Yourself Visually Power BI.

While my latest book, KI für Content Creation, has just been reviewed by the renowned c’t magazine, I’m happy to continue reviewing books myself. Today, I’m reviewing the just-released second edition of a cornerstone of the data visualization community, Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics by Nathan Yau.

Visualize This: A Deep Dive into Data Visualization

Nathan Yau’s Visualize This has long been a staple for data enthusiasts, and the updated second edition brings fresh techniques, technologies, and examples that reflect the rapidly evolving landscape of data visualization.

Core Highlights of This Book

Data-First Approach: Yau emphasizes that effective visualizations start with a deep understanding of the data. This foundational principle ensures that the resulting graphics are not just visually appealing but also accurately convey the underlying information.

Diverse Toolkit: The book introduces a wide range of tools, including the latest R packages, Python libraries, JavaScript libraries, and illustration software. Yau’s pragmatic approach helps readers choose the right tool for the job without feeling overwhelmed by options.

Real-World Applications: With practical, hands-on examples using real-world datasets, readers learn to create meaningful visualizations. This experiential learning approach is particularly valuable for grasping the subtleties of data representation.

Comprehensive Tutorials: The step-by-step guides are a standout feature, covering statistical graphics, geographical maps, and information design. These tutorials provide clear, actionable instructions that make complex visualizations accessible.

Web and Print Design: Yau details how to create visuals suitable for various mediums, ensuring versatility in application whether for digital platforms or printed materials.

Personal Insights on Visualize This

Having taught data strategy and visualization for seven years, I find Visualize This to be an exceptional resource for a broad audience. Yau skillfully integrates scientific data visualization techniques with graphic design principles, providing practical advice along the way. The book’s toolkit is extensive, featuring R, Illustrator, XML, Python (with BeautifulSoup), JSON, and more, each with working code examples to demonstrate real-world applications.

The image shows an open page from the second edition of "Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics" by Nathan Yau. The page, from Chapter 5 titled "Visualizing Categories," features a colorful visualization titled "Cycle of Many," which depicts a 24-hour snapshot of daily activities based on data from the American Time Use Survey. This visual highlights how categories change over time and demonstrates the book's practical approach to data visualization.
Visualize This featuring a colorful 24-hour activity visualization based on data from the American Time Use Survey.

Even though I read the first edition years ago, I couldn’t put the second edition down all weekend. This book is a must-read for anyone who handles data or prepares data-based reports. Its beautiful presentation and careful consideration of every aspect—from typeface to page layout—make it a pleasure to read.

The book is user-friendly, offering a massive set of references and free tools for obtaining interesting datasets across various fields, from sports to politics to health. This breadth of resources is crucial for anyone looking to create impactful visualizations across different domains.

While the focus on Adobe Illustrator might be daunting due to its cost and learning curve, Yau’s examples show how Illustrator can enhance graphics created in other tools like SAS and R. I personally prefer the open-source Inkscape, but Yau’s insights helped me overcome my initial reluctance to use Illustrator, leading to more polished and professional visuals.

Yau uses R, Python, and Adobe Illustrator to demonstrate what can be achieved with imagination and creativity. Although some readers might desire more complex walkthroughs from raw data to final graphics, such material would require substantial foundational knowledge in R and Python. Including this would make the book significantly thicker and veer off from its focus on creating visually appealing graphics.

Conclusion: Visualize This is Essential Reading for Data Professionals

Visualize This (Amazon) is an indispensable guide for anyone serious about data visualization. Its methodical, data-first approach, combined with practical tutorials and a comprehensive toolkit, makes it a must-read for information designers, analysts, journalists, statisticians, and data scientists.

For those looking to refine their data visualization skills and create compelling, accurate graphics, this book offers invaluable insights and techniques.

Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter for more reviews and insights on the latest in data & AI, and #datamustread:

„#datamustread: Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics (2nd Edition) by Nathan Yau“ weiterlesen

Discovering Kunming: A Journey Through the City of Eternal Spring

Kunming street life bustling with local activity
A vibrant street in Kunming, Yunnan, China, showcasing the bustling local life with people walking, street vendors selling goods, and traditional architecture in the background. The scene captures the lively atmosphere and cultural richness of Kunming’s streets.

Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in Southwest China, is often referred to as the „City of Eternal Spring“ for its mild climate and beautiful weather year-round. My recent trip to this vibrant city was an incredible adventure filled with stunning sights, rich cultural experiences, and mouth-watering cuisine. Join me as I take you through the highlights of my journey through Kunming.

Arrival and First Impressions

From the moment I arrived at Kunming Changshui International Airport, I was impressed by the efficiency and friendliness of the staff. Navigating through the airport was a breeze, thanks to clear signage and quick baggage transfer. The ride from the airport to the city center offered a glimpse of Kunming’s picturesque landscapes, setting the tone for an unforgettable visit.

Exploring Guandu Ancient Town

One of my first stops was Guandu Ancient Town, a historic area brimming with charm and character. Walking through its narrow streets lined with traditional Chinese architecture, I felt transported back in time. The town is a perfect blend of old and new, with ancient temples, vibrant markets, and quaint tea houses coexisting harmoniously.

A Stroll Through Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park, or Cuihu Park, is a must-visit in Kunming. This urban oasis is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. I spent a peaceful afternoon wandering around the lake, watching people practice tai chi, and admiring the beautiful lotus flowers. The park’s serene atmosphere is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Exploring Tai Hua Si Temple in Yunnan

During my adventure in Kunming, a visit to Tai Hua Si Temple was an unexpected delight that added a spiritual and cultural depth to my journey. Nestled on the western shore of Dianchi Lake and at the foot of the Western Hills, Tai Hua Si Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Yunnan Province.

As I approached the temple, the serene ambiance was immediately apparent. Surrounded by lush greenery and towering ancient trees, the temple complex exudes a sense of tranquility and calm. The air was filled with the faint scent of incense, and the gentle sound of chanting monks added to the peaceful atmosphere.

Tai Hua Si Temple, originally built during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), boasts a rich history that is reflected in its stunning architecture. The temple complex includes several halls and pavilions, each adorned with intricate carvings and detailed paintings. The main hall houses a magnificent statue of Buddha, while the surrounding halls contain various deities and historical relics.

Savoring Local Cuisine in Kunming

One of the highlights of my journey to Kunming was undoubtedly the exploration of its vibrant local cuisine. Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, boasts a unique culinary landscape that is both diverse and delicious, reflecting the rich cultural heritage and the abundance of fresh ingredients available in the region. Must-try dishes:

  1. Crossing the Bridge Noodles (过桥米线) A trip to Kunming is incomplete without trying the famous Crossing the Bridge Noodles. This iconic dish consists of a rich, steaming broth served with a variety of ingredients including thinly sliced meat, vegetables, and rice noodles. The unique aspect is that the ingredients are added to the hot broth at the table, ensuring they are perfectly cooked and fresh.
  2. Steam Pot Chicken (汽锅鸡) Another local favorite is Steam Pot Chicken. This dish is prepared using a special clay pot with a central chimney. The chicken is slow-cooked with herbs and spices, resulting in tender meat and a flavorful broth that is both comforting and nourishing.
  3. Erkuai (饵块) Erkuai is a traditional Yunnan rice cake made from glutinous rice. It can be served in various ways, such as stir-fried with vegetables and meats, or grilled and topped with savory or sweet condiments. Its chewy texture and versatility make it a beloved snack among locals and visitors alike.

Discovering Kunming Old Street

Kunming Old Street is another highlight of the city. The area is a fascinating blend of traditional and modern, with unique snacks, upscale vintage hotels, and vibrant street life. A notable stop was Xiongqi Yingxiang Hotpot, where the rich flavors and authentic ingredients made for a memorable meal.

Review: Perfect Retro Gaming on the Go

This photo shows the RG353V by ANBERNIC being used during a flight. The device is running the classic DOS game Digger. The compact size and bright 3.5-inch IPS touchscreen display make the RG353V an ideal companion for retro gaming on the go. Perfect for passing the time while traveling.
RG353V by ANBERNIC running the DOS game Digger.

During my trip, I discovered the RG353V by ANBERNIC – a small, handy retro gaming device that fits perfectly in the hand. It offers excellent picture quality thanks to its 3.5-inch IPS touchscreen and is perfect for passing the time during flights. The device can emulate numerous systems, including NES, SNES, N64, GBA, PS1, PSP, DOS, and even Dreamcast. With its RK3566 chip and 2 GB RAM, the RG353V provides enough power for smooth gameplay. The RG353V features two analog sticks, a precise D-pad, and well-placed action buttons. It is equipped with two SD card slots, a mini HDMI output, two USB-C ports, and a 3200 mAh battery that ensures long gaming sessions. The combination of portable size and high performance makes the RG353V the perfect companion for retro gaming on the go.

Final Thoughts and Further Reading

Kunming is truly a gem in China’s travel landscape. Its perfect blend of cultural heritage and modern vibrancy makes it a unique destination. I highly recommend adding Kunming to your travel bucket list – you won’t be disappointed!

If you’ve enjoyed reading about my journey, be sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for more travel updates and photos from my adventures in Kunming and beyond. For deeper insights into China’s modern culture, I highly recommend the book Young China by Zak Dychtwald. It offers a fascinating look into the lives and perspectives of China’s youth today.

I hope this blog post inspires you to explore Kunming and experience all the amazing things this city has to offer. Happy travels!

Happy Holidays 2024 – A Time for Reflection and Renewal

Cartoonish Christmas illustration that features a festive and cheerful scene with elements like a Christmas tree, snow, AI.
Cartoonish Christmas illustration that features a festive and cheerful scene with elements like a Christmas tree, snow, AI.

🥳 2023 has been the year of Generative AI, marking an era of significant technological advancements. I am incredibly grateful to be part of the talented and passionate team at Microsoft. A huge thank you to all my colleagues, partners, and customers for their trust and fantastic collaboration throughout the year.

🤖 This year, we’ve seen remarkable milestones, including the launch of Copilot Studio. This easy-to-use IDE enables the creation of custom AI assistants – making AI accessible and functional! Imagine creating your own apps accessing all kinds of data without the need to write code!

🌎 Our memorable team events in Redmond, Dublin, and Munich will stay with me. Working with people who not only see AI as a value add but are intrinsically motivated to use it for global betterment has been incredibly inspiring.

🙏 Personally, my ongoing dedication to using AI to combat fake news has been particularly pertinent, especially in light of the upcoming US elections. Moreover, I’m thrilled to share that some of the AI/ethics ideas will flow into a book on AI, set to be published in a few weeks.

🚀 Looking ahead, 2024 promises to be the year of Proto AGI!

🫶 I wish everyone a peaceful holiday season filled with joy and a Happy New Year. I’m eagerly looking forward to the new opportunities and exciting events that 2024 will bring!

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2024 AI Predictions: Artificial General Intelligence and the Road to Proto-AGI

2024 AI Predictions: Artificial General Intelligence and the Road to Proto-AGI
2024 AI Predictions: Artificial General Intelligence and the Road to Proto-AGI

As 2023 draws to a close, the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands on the cusp of a transformative leap. With GPT-4 setting a precedent in multimodal and code interpretation capabilities, we edge closer to what many term as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). This post delves into the probable trajectory AI may take in 2024, especially in the context of AGI.

Defining AGI and Its Emerging Spectrum

AGI is envisioned as an entity akin to human intelligence, exhibiting cognition, common sense, and knowledge. It is characterized by its human-like ability to comprehend, analyze, and engage in multi-step instructions and display apparent goals and pseudo-emotions. AGI spans a spectrum, ranging from ‚error-prone‘ or ’savant-like‘ sub-human intelligence to super-intelligence.

GPT-4: A Proto-AGI Precursor

The release of GPT-4 by OpenAI marked a significant milestone. It demonstrated vision capabilities and code interpretation, inching closer to higher-level cognitive abilities. Rumors of experiments with long-term memory suggest that integrating these components could result in a proto-AGI – an entity that meets some AGI criteria but lacks human precision and speed.

Predictions for 2024: The AI Landscape

  • OpenAI’s Next Leap: OpenAI is poised to unveil a more agent-like model. Anticipated to feature long-term memory and task-execution capabilities, this model – possibly named distinctively from the GPT lineage – might represent a nascent form of AGI.
  • Industrial Humanoid Robots: Beta deployments of humanoid robots in industrial settings will augment or replace human labor in specific tasks.
  • Text-to-Video Evolution: Expect breakthroughs in text-to-video technology, though generalization remains a challenge.
  • Synthetic Dataset Proliferation: AI training relying heavily on synthetic datasets could introduce hard-to-detect biases.
  • Medical AI Breakthrough: AI’s contribution to a major medical discovery is highly likely.
  • Public Sentiment and AI: Public opinion on AI will become increasingly polarized, with anti-AI sentiments emerging alongside widespread adoption.

Ethical, Financial, and Hardware Barriers to True AGI

While the path to AGI seems more tangible, ethical dilemmas, financial constraints, and hardware limitations remain formidable barriers. The upcoming elections will likely witness a surge in Generative AI for Fake News production, demanding AI-driven countermeasures.

Conclusion: Preparing for AI’s Leap Forward

2024 stands as a pivotal year in AI development, potentially heralding even more radical transformations. While absolute predictability is unattainable, rational analysis of existing trends can help us prepare for the likely scenarios. If 2024 aligns with these expectations, the journey to true AGI could be closer than we imagine, constrained predominantly by ethical, financial, and hardware limitations.

Unlocking the Power of Data Science with Excel: Discover the Book „Data Smart“

Exploring the depths of Data Science with Excel: A glimpse into 'Data Smart' by Jordan Goldmeier, a must-read for data enthusiasts.
Exploring the depths of Data Science with Excel: A glimpse into ‚Data Smart‘ by Jordan Goldmeier, a must-read for data enthusiasts.

Data Smart (Amazon) is an exceptional guide that creatively uses Microsoft Excel to teach data science, making complex concepts accessible to business professionals. This 2nd edition, masterfully updated by Jordan Goldmeier, arrives a decade after John Foreman’s highly acclaimed original version, bringing fresh perspectives and contemporary insights to the renowned first edition.

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned analyst, this book provides valuable insight and skill enhancement without requiring extensive programming knowledge. The practical, problem-solving approach ensures that you not only understand the theory, but also how to apply it in real-world scenarios. That’s why I’ve chosen Data Smart as our latest pick for the #datamustread book club.

Why „Data Smart“ is a #datamustread

Data Smart stands out in the realm of data science literature. Its approachable and practical methodology is a breath of fresh air for business professionals and data enthusiasts alike. Here’s why this book is an indispensable resource:

1. Excel as Your Data Science Laboratory:
The use of Excel, a tool many of us are familiar with, to unravel data science concepts is nothing short of brilliant. This approach significantly flattens the learning curve, making complex techniques more digestible.

2. Practical Learning through Real Business Problems:
Each chapter of the book introduces a different data science technique via a relatable business scenario. This context-driven approach makes the learning experience tangible and immediately applicable.

3. No Programming, No Problem:
The author’s method of teaching data science without delving into programming languages makes the content accessible to a broader audience.

4. Excel Skills Elevated:
In addition to data science concepts, readers will enhance their Excel prowess with advanced tools like Power Query and Excel Tables.

5. A Spectrum of Techniques:
From cluster analysis to forecasting, the book covers a wide array of methods, making it a comprehensive toolkit for any aspiring data scientist.

6. Fresh Perspectives in the Second Edition:
Goldmeier’s updates are not just cosmetic; they incorporate the latest Excel features, ensuring the content remains relevant in today’s fast-paced tech landscape.

Bridging the Gap with „Teach Yourself VISUALLY Power BI“

While exploring Data Smart, you’ll find parallels with the insights shared in my own book, Teach Yourself VISUALLY Power BI. Both texts aim to make data analytics accessible and actionable, providing a solid foundation for anyone looking to make informed decisions based on data.

Your Journey into Data Science Awaits

Data Smart is a gateway to understanding data science through a familiar and powerful tool: Excel. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned analyst, this book will enhance your analytical skills and expand your understanding of data in the business world.

Order Data Smart today and support both the authors and my endeavors in bringing such valuable resources to our community. Let’s dive into this journey of discovery together, transforming data into actionable insights.

Join the Conversation

After delving into Data Smart, I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways. Share your insights and join the discussion in our vibrant #datamustread community on LinkedIn and Twitter:

„Unlocking the Power of Data Science with Excel: Discover the Book „Data Smart““ weiterlesen