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The Complete Listing of Data Visualization Conferences

Jan 22nd, 2019 / Data Visualization /

Updated January 6, 2020

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 2020 Calendar

  • March 23 – 27: Malofiej in Spain
  • June 8 – 11: Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis
  • September 24 – 27: Information+ in Atlanta
  • October: IEEE VIS in Salt Lake City
  • October 5 – 8: Tableau Conference in Las Vegas
  • Others TBD: OpenVis, Tapestry, Visualized, industry-specific conferences

March 23 – 27, 2020: Malofiej in Spain

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

THE awards show for infographics.

Lots of data journalists. The speakers mostly work for newspapers, like the Times of Oman, O Globo, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

It seems very professional, very well organized, and very well regarded by the dataviz experts I admire.

What Other People Are Saying

My former coworker and personal friend, Katherine Haugh, attended Malofiej in 2019. In a blog post, she wrote: “I spent this past week in Pamplona, Spain at Malofiej 2019, an annual gathering of illustrators, journalists, and data scientists. I’m leaving the conference feeling inspired by all of the incredibly kind and incredibly talented people I met. Some of my overarching take-aways include: 1) start with your curiosities and develop the skills needed to answer them, not the other way around 2) the communication of a single message is more important than precision and 3) the more sensory, the more memorable. I’m inspired to engage more senses in my illustration and data visualization work.” You can read Katherine’s conference notes and takeaways here.

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


June 8 – 11, 2020: Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis

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.

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.

Frank Elvasky offered an insider scoop on Eyeo:


September 24 – 27, 2020: Information+ in Atlanta

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.

Information+ seems to be an every-other-year conference. They held one in 2016 and another in 2018, and they’re planning another one for 2020.

What Other People Are Saying


October 2020: IEEE VIS in Salt Lake City

They’ve held events since 1996–whoa!

The Details

  • Next event: October 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  • Registration fees: In 2019: 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. 2020 fees TBD.
  • Conference hashtag: #IEEEVIS
  • Website: http://ieeevis.org/year/2019/welcome. 2020 information has not been added yet
  • Get the inside scoop from: @IEEEVIS, Lynn Cherny (@arnicas)

Ann’s Impressions

This seems to be THE conference to hear about the latest academic research on data visualization from universities around the world.

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).

IEEE VIS has an embarrassing diversity problem that, as far as I can tell, hasn’t been addressed yet.


October 5 – 8, 2020: Tableau Conference in Las Vegas

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.

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. I feel too old for this conference.

What Other People Are Saying


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


Tapestry

Tapestry 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

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 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."


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, held its second Advancing Analytics for Children’s Hospitals two-day conference in June 2019. 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 2020…

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.

Limited by time and/or money? 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!

2 Comments

  1. […] Depict Data Studio | ‘The Complete Listing of Data Visualization Conferences’ […]

  2. […] Depict Recordsdata Studio | ‘The Complete Itemizing of Recordsdata Visualization Conferences’ […]

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