Hello Brussels techies, 

Ivet here! I’m a journalist working on digital communications, and my interest in both global issues and the French language brought me to Brussels. I specialise in something that, as a lifelong drawer, I’ve become passionate about: data visualisation. 

Grasping the main story behind a set of data is what data visualisation materials like infographics, posters, charts or maps are all about. The need for that is so transversal that visual content creation is a skill valued in many professional settings. But who hasn’t lost their temper over a PowerPoint graph, trying – and failing – to align the text or to change its size? Since the European Commission is pushing for a big boost in providing digital skills to European citizens, you’d hope that we’ll eventually be better prepared and spared from that drama. But we – myself included – aren’t quite there yet. 

So, what are the basics of good infographics? To start with, there’s no such thing without good stories, so relevant data must be the raw material. An infographic must have a journey, a direction and a point. Mastering the art of leaving out information that doesn’t add to the main point is also essential. One last tip: visual hierarchy – not everything has the same importance. 

Social media managers see how informative and consistent visual content helps people remember and engage with their message  – as our social media guru, Vanessa, notes here. Organisations and companies are increasingly using visualisation to break down complex problems and increase employee and customer engagement – check the amazing work of digital graphic creators such as Carlotta Cataldi on LinkedIn. Want to get started? In the book Visual Thinking. Empowering People and Organisations, full of sketches, you’ll find a range of fairly simple graph types and learn which graph to use depending on the set of information that you have – a linear graphic? a web? a tree? – as well as how to represent the elements that connect the information – do you need an arrow? a call out? a dotted line? You can try easy-to-use software like Canva or Infogram to take your first steps.  

Hoping to have whetted your appetite for visual creation, I leave you with our latest round-up of tech news. Fins aviat! 

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Remember to forget 💻 [PCWorld] 

If you don’t want to risk being accused of cybercrime, take care  to clean up your old devices. Malware protection and internet security company ESET revealed that sometimes companies selling old computer equipment forget to remove sensitive data, exposing their IT secrets to the public. A recent ESET study showed that only 1 in 4 devices had all of their network, login and even building security information completely removed. This is the perfect invitation for hackers to extract usernames, passwords and other information necessary to plan an attack on the company in question or to steal identities. Not just that! The same can happen with your home internet router if not properly cleared out when recycled. So, take your time and flush your old devices as if you were cleansing your soul!  

Dinner in the stratosphere? Yes please 🍽️ [The Next Web] 

If you’re bored with your usual restaurant choices and are looking for a new place to spice up your culinary life, the French have something for you! This time, the main attraction is not the famous onion soup, but rather the location. Taking their love for eating out one step further, a group of French scientists designed a dining capsule which will hover 25km above the ground. Zephalto, a Paris-based start-up, will offer a full dining experience in Earth’s stratosphere, perfect for people who find the Eiffel tower dining pedestrian and uninspiring. Sipping on your glass of Chardonnay while looking at the Eiffel tower from space might be slightly more expensive than your average restaurant meal – the prices start at €120,000 for a 6-hour trip. The mini-capsule will have Wi-Fi though, so that you can live stream the experience and become the next space-diner influencer to offset the cost. 

Taking AI by its horns with prompt engineering 📝 [VICE] 

Creatives across the globe have been shaking in their boots at the arrival of ChatGPT, a generative AI that has gained popularity in recent months. The industrial revolution-time anxiety that machines will replace us is reflected here by marketers and copywriters, who see AI’s ability to generate content more efficiently as a threat. As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them: with AI gaining traction in the job market, new roles have been invented around it. One of those is prompt engineering, which focuses on refining “context-aware prompts” that fare well in Internet searches and target right audiences. The job, as of now, is more lucrative and stable than freelance copywriting, despite requiring a similar skillset. Let’s see how long until AI can do that, too! 

ChatGPT as the new Cambridge Analytica 🔍 [MIT Technology Review] 

According to the European Data Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski, what AI companies are doing is a bit like releasing race cars without seatbelts or fully working brakes. While crazy scientists are figuring things out as they go, OpenAI is facing investigations by data protection authorities around the world. The EU’s data watchdog gave his view on the conundrums facing Big Tech, suggesting that tech companies look at Cambridge Analytica for the “best lesson in what can happen if companies cut corners when it comes to data protection”. Regulation, however, is easier said than done – after all, generative AI works thanks to all the content it scoops from the internet at large, raising not just privacy concerns, but also transparency and intellectual property issues.  

In case you haven’t had enough: 

ChatGPT is consuming a staggering amount of water [The Byte] 

Swedish startup wants €1.5BN to build emissions-free steel plant [The Next Web] 

Why You Shouldn’t Trust AI Detectors [LifeHacker] 

A Black Hole Star Could Be the Trippiest Object in Space [Gizmodo] 

The Car Thieves Using Tech Disguised Inside Old Nokia Phones and Bluetooth Speakers [VICE] 

About this week’s editor, Ivet: I am a digital communications consultant. Creating visuals or editing videos for social media is what I love most about my job. I studied Journalism and Humanities, and I aim to get better and better in turning complex information into more digestible comms material for a broad audience. Fun fact? I love studying, especially languages – here in Brussels, I am getting started with Italian. 

Ivet Armengol Tapiolas, Communications Consultant