Where and how to have discussions around data visualization

From December 5 through 9, I took a break from Twitter to spark conversation on The Data Visualization Society’s Slack workspace. I want to thank the dozens of colleagues who joined me for this experiment as we needed, and got, a critical mass of participants.

My tweet indicating my intention to stay off twitter for one week and focus on DVS Slack

Figure 1 — Our five-day experiment.

The goal

When inviting people to this endeavor, I wrote:

What might come from this brief hiatus from Twitter?

Maybe some people will find DVS a good home for them. Maybe some good voices that have been marginalized will get a chance to be heard. Maybe some people who would not have connected will connect.

And while many will return to Twitter on December 10, some may continue to engage at DVS to have different types of and debates. Discussions and debates that you can’t have on Twitter.

How did it go?

There were some great conversations, conversations that would be hard to have on Twitter. This thread about data storytelling and Tableau’s Iron Viz competition was amazing. If you are a DVS member (you can join for free) you should read the thread.

I also got to hear from, and listen to, people I don’t follow on Twitter or who aren’t on Twitter.

The experiment worked because there was a critical mass of people making the effort to create and respond to posts. It’s a chicken and the egg type of thing. People will create content if there are a lot of readers and there will be a lot of readers if there is enough good content.

But now that the week has past there are fewer people engaging on DVS Slack. The conversations are still good, but there are fewer.  Will there be enough to sustain the activity? Most of that depends on, well, you.

My take

I liked being off Twitter for a week and don’t expect to engage there much. I also have ongoing concerns about supporting the platform.

I do plan to continue creating and responding to content on DVS Slack, but I plan to put most of my efforts into…


The feed system works well and it’s much easier to follow individuals and participate in threads. On LinkedIn I think we can have good, meaningful discussions and debates around data visualization. The only downside – and it’s driving me absolutely nuts – is that you cannot copy and paste images into your posts (you have to insert an image). And your responses can only have ONE image at a time.

If I were to use a food analogy, DVS Slack and LinkedIn are like sitting down for a meal while Twitter is like gorging popcorn while watching TV.

Dog sitting on couch with remote control having eaten too much popcorn

Figure 2 — How interacting with Twitter sometimes makes me feel.

My biggest takeaway for all of these platforms?

You get out of it what you put into it.

Care to engage?

You can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/swexler/.

You can join the discussions on DVS Slack.

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