149  |  xkcd or the art of data storytelling with web cartoons


Manage episode 245739628 series 50392
By Enrico Bertini and Moritz Stefaner, Enrico Bertini, and Moritz Stefaner. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

[Our podcast is fully listener-supported. That’s why you don’t have to listen to ads! Please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon or sending us a one-time donation through Paypal. And thank you!]

This episode is a dream come true – we have long wanted to invite Randall Munroe to the show. Randall is the mastermind behind the xkcd webcomics which have zillions of fans around the globe. In his stick figure cartoons and hilarious mini-stories, he comments on complicated scientific issues.

Over the years, Randall has also created a number of data-heavy visualizations. Some of them tackle pressing issues such as climate change, while others mock conventions of visualization such as map projections or chart types.

On the show we talk about his latest book “How To”, his work process, and the relation of complexity and simplicity in his visualizations. Enjoy the show and please make sure to listen all the way to the end, because Randall is calling out for some internet wisdom. Can anyone help find a software tool for manipulating maps in a three-point azimuthal projection?


xkcd: A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.
How to! Scientific advice for common real world problems
The Money Chart
The Movie Narratives Chart
Earth Temperature Timeline


1. Welcome to Data Stories! (00:00:33)

2. Our podcast is listener-supported, please consider making a contribution! (00:01:51)

3. Our guest today: Randall Munroe, the mastermind behind the xkcd webcomic (00:02:15)

4. Endless complexity and simple stories: How to settle scientific arguments (00:04:59)

5. Wherever you look you see something interesting: Randall's fascination for viz! (00:13:58)

6. Randall's elaborate data charts: How much can you get done by hand? (00:19:38)

7. Nobody could use anyone else's system: Randall's tools & process (00:26:33)

8. Court jester or journalism: What is the role of xkcd in public discourse? (00:32:16)

9. The inherently unsolvable problem: Map projections and their personality (00:41:48)

10. Get in touch with us and support us on Patreon (00:48:13)

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