Bill Hinderman

Nigerian Royalty.

I get a lot of email at work.

I’m on eleven team distribution lists, I run our UI community of practice, I get a slew of automated garbage, and that doesn’t include emails actually sent to me.

Back in March, I received one email that read, in part:

Hi Bill
I wanted to get in touch and gauge your interest in speaking at the Data Visualization Summit – Boston, MA – September 25 & 26, 2014.
The event brings together data viz leaders, analysts & scientists working in various industries to discuss how high dimensional data, visual analytics & computational aesthetics for data are offering new ways for companies to better understand how to use their data & make it more efficient.

[…]

Please let me know if you are available to participate, or if you have any questions regarding the event and I can give you a call to discus this further.
I look forward to talking with you.

Reading back on it now, it seems totally innocuous.  But for whatever reason, at the time, all I could think was that this was some elaborate 419 scam, and that I was a few responses away from being introduced to Nigerian royalty.  Either that, or someone had found a whole slew of Orbitz UIEs on LinkedIn, and spammed the pile.

But I asked around, and nobody else at the company had received the same email. The suspicion mounted.

A few days passed, and I decided to respond to the email, but being a master sleuth, I asked the sender to set up a time to call me.

He did.

A week later, I was sitting in a conference room, dialing a real phone number that connected to a real phone with this real person at the other end.  As it had turned out, the company reaching out puts on a whole slew of conferences, and at a previous one, had given out a questionnaire asking: “Who would you like to see speak at a future conference?” to which someone had responded: “Someone from Orbitz.”

“Someone from Orbitz,” for reasons I still don’t quite understand, filtered down to Bill “Hi, I’m someone from Orbitz” Hinderman.

Here’s the one problem.  Apart from The Cocktail Gui.de, I don’t really know a ton about Data Visualization.  My mind immediately went to the work I am starting with our Site Optimization group to distill huge portions of our web traffic for A:B testing.

For a while, I noodled on that idea, and kept feeling like I was taking the easy route.

I didn’t want to fly to Boston to just talk about my job.  I wanted to be a voice for change.

I grabbed two sheets of printer paper and labeled them as:

  • Data Visualization
  • Things I Care About

 

On the former, I began writing down all the topics I could think of, related to the data visualization space.  On the latter, I spewed out all the topics in web design that I had a passion for.  Once I was finished, I began making phrases by picking one idea from each page.

My goals here were the following:

  • Talk about something I care about
  • Talk about something people haven’t talked about
  • Talk about something I don’t know enough about

 

After a hilariously short amount of time, I had found something that hit all three points:

Responsive Data Visualization

In essence: how can responsive web design inform data visualization as we move to a multi-device internet?  RWD has change the way we think of our content’s containers, but we’re still skipping the problem of cramming too much data into a container that just doesn’t scale.

So that’s where we are.  I care about it.  Virtually nothing has been written on the subject.  And (because of the last sentence), I’m learning as I create.

See you in September, Boston.

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