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    The Complete Listing of Data Visualization Conferences

    Jan 22nd, 2019 / Data Visualization /

    My blog post’s title, The Complete Listing of Data Visualization Conferences, is absolutely ridiculous. On purpose. This guide is far from complete.

    Nearly every week, after one of my in-person client workshops, a student will come up and say some variation of, “Ann, this one-day session is great, but now I’m ready to connect with others beyond my organization. I want to meet people from other cities, states, and countries who are struggling with similar struggles, and celebrating similar accomplishments. Help me find my tribe. I want to attend a multi-day data visualization conference!”

    So, I sat down and began pulling all the details together–a list of the major data visualization conferences, the conference websites, the hashtags, the dates, the registration fees, and real-life people they could learn more from.

    Then, I realized that other people, beyond my workshop attendees, were hoping to attend data visualization conferences, too. And it’s really hard to find information about which conferences exist. Hence the need to share this listing with a broader audience through a blog post.

    Data visualization is addressed in one way or another at tons of conferences. Any organization that’s using data should be talking about how to communicate that data. So you’ll see individual conference sessions about data visualization, or dashboards, or infographics all the time.

    In this listing of data visualization conferences, I tried to focus on conferences where data visualization is THE focus.

    Here are the major data visualization conferences (in alphabetical order).

    But First, a “Funny” Story

    My dataviz friends warned me that I shouldn’t write this blog post.

    “If everyone registers for a data visualization conference,” they whispered, “then you won’t have any clients left for your in-person workshops.”

    Yes, that’s a small risk.

    But, yes, I also trust that you know the difference between sending a few staff to a conference to get inspired and collect new ideas versus bringing in a professional to improve your entire team’s dataviz skills and spur organizational culture changes.

    Okay, back to the conference line-up!


    Eyeo Festival

    Eyeo describes itself as “a gathering for the creative technology community… “The Eyeo Festival brings together a rich intersection of people doing fascinating things with technology. Artists, data designers, creative coders, AI explorers, storytellers, researchers, technology & platform developers all cross paths and share inspiration at Eyeo. Join us for 4 days of enthralling talks, unique workshops, the code+ summit, and thought provoking interactions lead by passionate thinkers and makers. You’ll love it. (And it’ll be better with you there.) Converge to Inspire.”

    The Eyeo Festival conference website

    The Details

    Ann’s Impressions

    Seems to have an arts/design focus more than a data/spreadsheets focus. For example, they mention architecture as one of the conference topics. I can’t think of any of my personal clients that would be a good fit for the Eyeo Festival.

    Of the 2019 speakers, I’ve heard of two of them–Nathan Yau and Moritz Stefaner.

    I could (should) be learning more about the art/design side of data visualization. My background is in the data/research side, and I always learn a lot when I approach a topic from a different angle.

    What Other People Are Saying

    Francis Gagnon wrote about his Eyeo Festival 2018 experience. His quotes about interacting with fellow attendees stood out to me: “Eyeo is a special moment in time. It’s one of the most hyped conferences in several fields and it sells out quickly. Yet, so many of us stand in the middle of this rare mix of people, looking at our phones. Having conversations with people at home. Keeping strangers at a safe distance on Twitter. Watching or interacting mildly with acquaintances on Facebook. Plunging back into work on Slack, as if our brains didn’t remain there afterwards… The Eyeo organizers have gone to great lengths to make the experience of attending more real and less virtual. The workshops on Monday were very interactive, forcing the participants to get to know one another from the beginning. The delightful personalized button designed by Giorgia Lupi based on our answers to a survey were playful conversation starters. The program of the conference printed on the back of our name tags gave us one less excuse to pull out our phones to check the schedule and then slip into email or social media.” I’m afraid that phone use isn’t unique to Eyeo.


    IEEE VIS

    They’ve held events since 1996–whoa!

    The Details

    • Next event: October 20-25, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada / October 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
    • Registration fees: 645-970 euros for the full week, depending on how early you register, with all sorts of discounts and 1-day passes available for less
    • Conference hashtag: #IEEEVIS
    • Website: http://ieeevis.org/year/2019/welcome
    • Get the inside scoop from: @IEEEVIS, Lynn Cherny (@arnicas)

    Ann’s Impressions

    Academic-focused? All the 2019 conference organizers are from universities.

    Seems to draw in a really diverse international crowd? I would love to meet people doing dataviz from places other than the U.S. and western Europe. I have so much to learn from them.

    Seems to be a great place to learn about research on data visualization?

    What Other People Are Saying

    This is a week-long conference.


    Attracts people from across the globe.

    In Fall 2018, all these conferences were basically scheduled on top of each other (oops).


    Information+

    I know very little about this conference, but it’s well-regarded by friends and acquaintances that I trust, so I want to learn more! If you’ve got the inside scoop, please comment and let me know.

    The Details

    Ann’s Impressions

    The Program Committee is very, very impressive… Isabel Meirelles… Andy Kirk… Gregor Aisch… Robert Kosara… Nadieh Bremer… Elijah Meeks… Wow.

    Is this an every-other-year conference? They held one in 2016 and another in 2018, and I don’t see any 2019 details online yet.

    What Other People Are Saying


    Malofiej

    Malofiej, the Infographics World Summit, describes itself as turning the conference city into “the world capital of infographics.” Apparently this conference has been going on for 27 years–whoa!

    The Malofiej 2019 conference website

    The Details

    Ann’s Impressions

    I have no idea how to pronounce this word. It’s a Spanish word, right? So, ma-LOW-fee-ev?

    Seems to attract the artsy, creative side of the data visualization field… people who describe their work as information design more than as data visualization.

    Or maybe it’s for data journalists, i.e., people who work for newspapers? The speakers mostly work for newspapers, like the Times of Oman, O Globo, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Okay, yes. It’s for data journalists. Right?

    On second thought… this is THE conference I would attend. It seems very professional, very well organized, and very well regarded by the dataviz experts I admire.

    What Other People Are Saying

    Andy Kirk wrote about the Malofiej 2018 experience, and he even made a short film with co-producer Matt Knott:


    OpenVis

    According to Lynn Cherny, “OpenVis is a top-tier conference about ‘open source data visualization’ tools and techniques (‘openvis’). ‘Open source’ means we concentrate the talks on tools that are freely available from the open source community, rather than for-pay solutions from vendors. Our talks are educational and not sales pitches, by design. We bring together an expert speaker panel of developers, designers, data journalists and analysts, and academics focused on practice rather than solely theory or portfolio reviews. We think this makes us unique.”

    This conference used to take place in Boston (since 2013), but recently moved to Paris.

    A screenshot of the OpenVis website with information about the 2018 conference.

    The Details

    Ann’s Impressions

    The open-source-tool-focus is interesting. My first impression was that I would personally prefer to attend a best practices conference over a tool-based conference. But, you’ve got to use some sort of tool in dataviz, so why not master the open-source tools?

    Too bad it’s based in Europe now! If/when it returns to the U.S. (likely to Boston in 2020), I might try to attend.

    Like most conferences, the sessions are recorded and the videos are available online. So, like most conferences, the value is probably more in building relationships than in the session content.

    OH! This was where Maarten Lambrechts introduced his xenographics project! So I have heard of this conference. That was a major project last year and I definitely had FOMO while “watching” the conference through the Twitter hashtag.

    What Other People Are Saying

    Lynn Cherny wrote a detailed post about OpenVis. Her article is a must-read for anyone considering OpenVis.

    I consider OpenVis to be like the world championship of datavis.” –Maarten Lambrechts


    Tableau

    When I sat down to write this guide, I didn’t plan on including software-specific conferences. Excel has multi-day conference events, and so does Adobe, and Google probably does, too. But I had to include Tableau here because it’s becoming such a major force in the data visualization field among my workshop participants.

    Tableau's 2019 conference website

    The Details

    Ann’s Impressions

    Since this is a software company’s conference, it seems like a great way to find out about the latest software features. They seem to make announcements on stage about all those new features being released. Or, you could just find out a whopping 30 seconds after the live audience by following along on Twitter…

    Lots of Millenial-themed activities. I think I saw ping pong tables in some photos. They have some sort of photobooth where you can hold up props and write nerdy data stuff on whiteboards. At 33, I’m already too old to attend this conference.

    What Other People Are Saying


    Tapestry

    The Tapestry Conference is (was?) a two-day event in Miami that seems to focus on public-facing interactive graphics, which is an area I rarely work on. For example, at the 2018 event, Ken Field talked about The Cartography of Elections. (Most of my projects are private client-facing designs, which come with an entirely different set of design considerations than public-facing designs.)

    The Tapestry Conference's 2018 website

    The Details

    Ann’s Impressions

    I rarely get FOMO. At any given time, you’re missing out on 99.999999999% of everything happening in the world. But seeing the Tapestry Conference photos on Twitter last year… sigh. I really wanted to be there.

    Seems like a great place to hear about the field of data visualization, if you can call us that. At the 2018 conference, for example, Elijah Meeks’ closing keynote was about the Third Wave of Data Visualization.

    All the presentations seem to be recorded and available for free on YouTube? So… like most conferences… the point is to meet the people, not listen to the presentations?

    What Other People Are Saying

    Jon Schwabish and Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic reflected on the conference experience on an episode of Jon’s PolicyViz Podcast.

    Cole also wrote a blog post about the Tapestry experience.

    It’s a small group, which is a major draw for lots of prospective attendees.

    Francis Gagnon says about Tapestry: "Been to Tapestry twice. The talks are very relevant for the "analytical dataviz" crowd, but mostly it’s a good place to get a sense of community. It’s good to have a bit of a public profile prior to going, so that people can "recognize" you or stay connected afterwards."

    It’s TBD whether there will be a Tapestry 2019 event or not:


    Visualized

    I wish I had more information about this conference. The conference website leads to a Vimeo page? Help me fill in the details, please!

    The "Visualized" conference's Twitter page

    The Details

    Ann’s Impressions

    This conference has existed since at least 2012.

    Past events have taken place in Milan and New York. It’s hard to find out what’s going on with future conferences.

    Is this an every-other-year event?

    I’m really liking the size of this conference–big enough to meet plenty of cool people, yet small enough to not be overwhelming.

    What Other People Are Saying

    Thomas Dahn recapped the 2017 event in his blog post. Thomas writes, “On March 11, 2017, the 10th edition of New York-based event Visualized was held in Milan, Italy. It was the third time that the conference took place in a European city. Visualized is a data, storytelling and design-driven event. Presenting speakers who work in the emerging field of data visualization. The line-up in Milan had a nice mix of students, data researchers, data journalist, and designers. All with Italian roots. The gender balance was good, it felt like there were more female speakers on stage then male. The venue for this Visualized edition was the new creative hub Base Milano, a nice restored train factory in the center of Milan.”


    Almost Every Industry-Specific Conference

    The American Evaluation Association has a Data Visualization and Reporting track, so you can attend these conference sessions and hear from practitioners who are using some dataviz in their own work.

    One of my favorite clients, the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, is organizing the first-ever Advancing Analytics for Children’s Hospitals two-day conference in June 2018. Although it’s not a dataviz conference, any conference that’s focused on analytics is going to have tons and tons of data and graphs.

    And speaking of Chicago, Andrew Means’ Good Tech Fest will probably have sessions about building a culture of data in the social sector, of which data visualization is one component.

    Jorge Camoes mentioned NTTS:

    Kenny Gruchalla told me about a Conference Calendar that describes even more conferences:


    The Verdict

    Your budget is limited. And so is your time. Most of us can’t spend all our money and time globe-trotting and attending every single conference just for fun.

    If I could attend just one data visualization conference in 2019…

    I would attend Malofiej. I think it’s a setting where I could gain practical skills; push my boundaries about what’s even possible; get inspiration; and meet friendly people that I could stay in touch with online even after the conference ends. The awards portion is simultaneously the conference’s biggest strength and weakness; seeing the best infographics in the world would be inspiring and intimidating all at once. But, none of that matters. I’ve got two tiny kiddos. I only travel internationally for client projects. Travelling internationally for a conference is out of the question for a few more years.

    Tapestry is more realistic because it’s held in the U.S. Plus, it has excellent reviews from past attendees. Plus, the small setting is very appealing. I’m an extrovert but I still get lost in big crowds.

    Limited by time and/or money, like me? You can always attend your city’s meet-up group. Or, organize your own group! And there’s always online training, hint hint nudge nudge.

    Here’s what others are saying:


    Your Turn

    What conferences am I missing, either dataviz-focused conferences or industry-specific conferences with some dataviz sessions or tracks?

    What details am I missing? I listed the dates for the next event, the conference website, and so on. Do you wish there was information about, say, the number of attendees at a typical conference?

    And most importantly–if you’ve attended any of these conferences already, what’s your impression? I’m not looking for Debbie Downers or pessimists or conference-bashers here. I’m trying to figure out the academic backgrounds, career settings, interests, etc. of the typical person who attends these conferences. For example, if a graphic designer wanted to attend a dataviz conference, which one should she attend? What about a data journalist? What about an academic researcher? Where would they find their tribe? Help me fill in the gaps!

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