Is a photo a data visualization

Infographics & Co. - What is possible with data visualization?

Lab workshop with online concept designer Arjan Dhupia from the Berlin cooperative: How can we use simple to complex tools to visualize existing public data such as rent costs, unemployment figures, refugee routes, interest rates, etc. - as a supplement to the radio broadcast? It would be nice to have a few numbers visualized by a program - but it is not without it. Findings and considerations after two hours of presentation and discussion.

Disclaimer: The data tools mentioned here do not constitute a purchase or use recommendation by the lab or Deutschlandradio.

To start with: Data visualization is not that easy. Firstly, the data has to be collected and sorted, secondly, in most cases, they have to be in Excel file form in order to be read out, and thirdly, one is not just as casually incorporated into a visualization tool. Apart from the fact that there is pretty much everything a data collector could wish for, from tools that are easy to learn and function-reduced to powerful programs and in-house programming for this purpose.

Nevertheless, the effort can be worthwhile - from the simple, quick graphic of exploding rental costs or traffic jams to a planned and well-researched data visualization of - for example and very current - the refugee distribution across Europe or the development of the area codes based on changing voters in the USA. This does not mean that linear radio listeners jump up and rush to the tablet to look at graphics. But they can be a good addition for this user group if the information is also given in the program - and of course for the readers of our online pages. Interacting and ideally, readers can be tempted to listen to the audio contribution.

Speaking of the audio contribution - here the lab's premiere podcast - Lab bosses Nicola Balkenhol and Markus Heidmeier and Lab member Boris Bittner talk to concept designer Arjan Dhupia about data visualization - in just under ten minutes and, of course, built as an audio videogram:

How a visualization with the software "Datawrapper" can look like is shown in this graphic in the article "Germany, your weapons" from the program "Zeitfragen" on Deutschlandradio Kultur:

Datawrapper is one of many tools and belongs to the simpler variant. This overview by speaker Arjan Dhupia is simple and understandable - the original presentation from the workshop, which largely explains itself and shows right at the beginning that data visualization was a topic as early as 1812:

Data Tools Arjan Dhupia Workshop Infographic

The collection of programs in the presentation is not exhaustive. According to Arjan Dhupia Infogr.am and Piktochart are recommended for simple use. For "large" long-term projects, rather Tableau. There is a good overview of the available tools in the Data Visualization Catalog.

What to do with the options

To get started, we will team up with the in-house radio editors interested in a data project and take the first steps. In an ideal world, in the long term, we will install what NPR and others have also successfully done: a visuals team. Radio editors must certainly do more in the multimedia sector. But they will not be able to do everything on their own. There will be no getting around a small team that currently produces “radio for the eye” over the long term.


According to the description on the website of the Berlin Cooperative, our workshop speaker Arjan Dhupia was / is “a native of the Rhineland with family in Germany and India. He completed his master's degree in media studies, philosophy and media technology at the Braunschweig University of Art. This was followed by another foray into the academic world as a PhD fellow at the University of Portsmouth, UK. Arjan has been a member of the Berlin Cooperative since March 2015 and designs mobile applications, websites, interactive maps and infographics, for example for netzdebatte.bpb.de or dasDeutschlandRadio.Lab. Before that, he worked independently for the dpa Deutsche Presseagentur and Antenna International, among others. Arjan loves maps, obscure music and Austrian cuisine. "