Iron Viz contestants Russell Spangler, Curtis Harris, and Robert Rouse.
Twenty minutes to the start of the Iron Viz competition, the energy in Viz Stadium was palpable. As the music blared and lights flashed, the same question was on every person’s mind: Who will be crowned the next Iron Viz champion?
The contestants, Russell Spangler, Robert Rouse, and Curtis Harris, had each worked hard for a chance to compete in Viz Stadium. Each won a feeder contest with a stunning viz: Russell for Tableau Sushi, Robert with US vs Them, and Curtis with a mobile-friendly viz on home runs.
This year’s MCs, Ross Perez and Kathleen Goepferd, kicked off the competition to deafening applause. They welcomed attendees, set a high bar (chart) for puns, then got down to business.
The challenge? Tell a story using taxi-business data worth 15 gigabytes—150 million rows (“from morning commute to late-night puke”). As Kathleen put it, “This year’s data set is rather large.” No kidding.
So it was especially important to optimize vizzes for performance, as observed by judge and former Iron Viz champ Shine Pulikathara: “Every click and every drag matters.” Ah, the wisdom of those who’ve vizzed before us.
Joining Shine on the judges’ bench was Tableau co-founder Chris Stolte, CFO Tom Walker, and VP of Research and Design Dr. Jock Mackinlay. They’d be evaluating vizzes on three criteria: visual design, storytelling, data viz best practices. Twitter votes would also earn contestants up to 10 extra points.
With 20 minutes on the timer, Ross declared, “Only one viz can reign supreme! This is the human drama of analytic competition.”
He was right. The contestants began their investigations of the data and the stories hiding within. Their respective “sous-vizzers,” Tableau employees who provided audience insights throughout the competition, encouraged their master counterparts toward great viz design and analytical prowess.