February 1, 2016

Improve Your Data Literacy: 16 Blogs to Follow in 2016

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16blogsEditor’s Note: This is a curated list by the School of Data, a project by the Open Knowledge Foundation and Peer 2 Peer University that works to empower civil society organizations, journalists, and citizens with skills to use data in creating more equitable and effective societies. 

Data literacy is a never-ending process. Going to workshops and hands-on practice are important, but to really become acquainted with the “culture” of data literacy, you’ll have to do a lot of reading. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back: below is a curated list of 16 blogs to follow in 2016 if you want to: improve your data-visualization skills; see the best examples of data journalism; discover the methodology behind the best data-driven projects; and pick-up some essential tips for working with data.

Using Feedly as your RSS Reader? Check out our shared collection which includes the blogs mentioned below plus other blogs!

Data Visualization

Data Viz Done Right

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.41.42 PMThis website, by Andy Kriebel, curates good examples of dataviz around the web, highlighting what was great, and also what could have been done better. Each post is quick and easy to read, and they add up to form a set of good practices to keep in mind when doing a data visualization.

Flowing Data

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.47.34 PMFlowing Data is Nathan Yau’s full-time job, and it shows. Regularly updated with great original or curated content about data visualization, this blog is a good way to keep track of the major trends and events in the field. Other sections of the website feature tutorials for purchase and guides.

Google Maps Mania

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.42.44 PMDo you like maps? Everybody likes maps. Managed by map-addict Keir Clarke for more than 10 years, this blog is the go-to resource for following the development of digital cartography. Don’t be fooled by the name, all digital maps are featured, not only Google ones.

Junk Charts

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.40.29 PMProminent data visualization expert Kaiser Fung set out to become the web’s first data-visualization critic. The result is a website which regularly deconstructs dataviz work, even from top publications, often proposing an alternative visualisation. The articles on Junk Charts regularly make ripples through the web, attracting praise, criticism, but most importantly, prompting discussion.

Visual Loop

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.43.28 PMVisual Loop is the ultimate data visualization web repository. Founded as simple blog in 2010 by Tiago Veloso, it grew to become the most active and up-to-date curation space for data visualization, in all formats. Featuring interviews with designers along with event announcements, this is the blog to follow to get inspiration.

Data In the News


Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.43.59 PMRather than simply having data journalists, FiveThirtyEight is data journalism. Founded by Nate Silver, a renowned statistician who reached stardom after predicting the 2008 and 2012 elections while blogging for the New York Times, FiveThirtyEight represents the boldest attempt to do pure data journalism. It works remarkably well, and is an inspiration for all data journalists, seasoned and aspiring ones alike.

NYT – The Upshot

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.44.32 PM

After the departure of Nate Silver, the New York Times decided to aim even higher by starting The Upshot, a data journalism corner dedicated to politics, policy, and economic analysis. It’s an ambitious and high-quality take on data journalism, with approachable articles on social issues (politics, nutrition…) mixed with innovative interactive data visualizations.

Washington Post Information Graphics

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.53.11 PMThe Washington Post Information Graphics blog is an unadulterated look at the data journalism articles produced by the « WaPo ». It is not only a great source of inspiration for anyone interested in dataviz, but a great source of quality articles, without all the fluff of the main website.

Understanding Uncertainty

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.53.23 PMDavid Spiegelhalter is the maestro behind this ever-useful website, which regularly takes on news articles (but not exclusively) which make a bad job of reporting on the risk/probability/chance of something happening. It is a great read to cut through sensationalist claims, as well as a source of examples on how to deal with uncertainty in reporting.

Global Journalism Investigative Network

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.53.45 PMThe GJIN, as a whole, is an extensive resource for journalists, but its series of curated top 10 data journalism links of the week is a great way of tracking the #ddj articles or news that made the rounds on Twitter for any particular week.

Behind The Scenes

NPR Visuals Team Blog

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.53.58 PMA nerdier pick than the rest of the selection, the NPR Visual Teams blog is still an amazing place to see the methodology behind outstanding data journalism projects. Additionally, the NPR Team maintains several open source tools for data journalism which are described on the blog.


Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.54.11 PMNo less nerdy than the NPR blog, the Source blog (a Mozilla/Open News project) is more varied in its content, thanks to regular blog posts by top data journalists from a wide variety of newsrooms. Alternating behind-the-scenes articles, guides, tutorials and event round-ups, this blog is a must-have in the RSS reader of every data journalist.


Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.54.27 PMStorybench is a collaboration between the Media Innovation track at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism and Esquire magazine. A relative newcomer in the sphere of data journalism blogs, it features high quality articles, providing an « under the hood » look at examples of digital journalism, accompanied by interviews with the journalists who make them.

Learning To Work with Data


Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.54.46 PMData journalists love spreadsheets. And why wouldn’t they? They’re so flexible! Chandoo.org is the place to go if you want to maximise this potential flexibility, or just pick some nice tricks that will make your work faster. Chandon focuses on Excel, but thankfully most of the tricks of use to data journalists will be available in other, similar software.


Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.55.28 PMHelpMeViz’s tagline is « helping people with everyday data visualization ». Whilst submitting your dataviz issue to the community can be really helpful, the real value of the website is in the aggregation of all the posts, each representing a small dataviz challenge. If you ever wondered in how many ways you could tackle a data visualization problem, HelpMeViz is there for inspiration.

Journalist’s Resource

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.55.54 PMThe Journalist’s Resource tackles a niche aspect of data literacy: understanding research papers. Mixing regular round-ups of research around specific topics with quality guides about understanding research terms or working with numbers (check out their amazing tip sheets), this blog from the Shorenstein Center of Harvard Kennedy School is a resource all journalists (and especially North American ones) should follow.

Do you believe that some obvious blogs are missing? Tweet them to us at @Schoolofdata or on Facebook. And check out our Feedly shared collection, which includes more than the blogs mentioned above!

cedricCedric Lombion is the communications and community manager for the School of Data. Based in Bordeaux, France, he is a consultant in communications and open data. @clombion. This story is cross-posted with permission from the School of Data website

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