Takeaways from Tapestry 2014

May 7, 2014
The Why Axis

Arvind Satyanarayan presenting Lyra to an eager audience.

Tapestry had another successful year in 2014. This time around the event was held in the Historic Inns of Annapolis, MD. In its two year life the conference has adopted a signature feel I haven't found anywhere else: single day, single track, a small crowd of around 100, and, of course, a great mix of speakers broken up by plenty of socialization time. Together these elements make the annual conference feel more like a retreat than anything else.

Some of the other attendees have already written up their thoughts - Andy Kirk, Francis Gagnon, Emily Kund, Lynn Cherny - but I wanted to add a few thoughts to the mix and one exciting new idea.

Discourse

The biggest thing that I took away from tapestry conference this year was the healthy atmosphere of criticism we have managed to foster as a community.

Presenters were up on stage criticizing or defending the work of visualizers present in the room. This generated plenty of follow-up discussion during breaks. And the best part about it was that people want more of it.

The fact that this idea popped up several places suggests there's something to it. I try to achieve a facsimile of this with some of the articles on The Why Axis but I love the idea of live critique with the opportunity for rebuttals. I also can imagine a format where the participants get together in a room and record / live-stream their conversation to a much larger audience on the web.

If you want to team up and make this idea real then don't hesitate to get in touch. I think it could help provide the next layer of social glue to solidify the data visualization community as one at home with constructive criticism.

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