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Data Storytelling: The Ultimate Collection of Resources

The hot new concept in data visualization is “data storytelling”; some are calling it the next evolution of visualization. However, we’re early in the discussion and there are more questions than answers:

  •     Is data storytelling more than a catchy phrase?
  •     Where does data storytelling fit into the broader landscape of data exploration, visualization, and presentation?
  •     How can the traditional tools of storytelling improve how we communicate with data?
  •     Is it more about story-telling or story-finding?

Many of the bright minds in the data visualization field have started to tackle these questions — and it is something that we’ve been exploring at Juice in our work.

Zach Gemignani has collected some of the best blog posts, presentations, research papers, and other resources that take on this topic.

Blog Posts

Storytelling with Data: What Are the Impacts on the Audience? by Nick Diakopoulos
“I realize there’s a whole lot of inspiration out there, and some damn fine examples of great work, but I still find it hard to get a sense of direction…We need to know what makes a data story “work”. And what does a data story that “works” even mean?”

A Data Scientist’s Real Job: Storytelling by Jeff Bladt and Bob Filbin
“In short, we’re tasked with transforming data into directives. Good analysis parses numerical outputs into an understanding of the organization. We “humanize” the data by turning raw numbers into a story about our performance.”

Coffee & Empathy: Why data without a soul is meaningless by Om Malik
“The idea of combining data, emotion and empathy as part of a narrative is something every company — old, new, young and mature — has to internalize. If they don’t, they will find themselves on the wrong side of history.”

Look ma, no story! by Moritz Stefaner
“Tools have no stories to them. Tools can reveal stories, help us tell stories, but they are neither the story itself nor the storyteller. Portraits have no story to them either. Like a photo portrait of a person, a visualization portrait of a data set can allow you to capture many facets of a bigger whole, but there is not a single story there, either.”

Discussion: Storytelling and success stories by Andy Kirk
“I just wanted to share my view on the distinction I personally make between the two main types of visualisation function: exploratory and explanatory”

The secret to storytelling is in the editing by Garr Reynolds
“Although it is a film about the role of editing in filmmaking, the lessons and principles are applicable to other creative work such as writing, and storytelling of all kinds, including presentations.”

Visualising data: can you see stories? by Chris Twigg
“Narrative can on the one hand be broken down into a set of universal laws and principles that may transcend mediums. Stories have temporality in common (they deal with time) as well as causation (they deal with cause and effect of something). On the other hand there are the more media specific narrative affordances as for example in the way that film, opera, novel and data visualisation – because of their physicality and the dimensions open to them – would be able to give a different ‘staging’ of a story.”

Data Visualization as Storytelling: A Stretched Analogy by Zach Gemignani
“For practitioners of the craft, connecting our work to stories feels satisfying — it is a call to raise our standards and an opportunity to enhance the influence of our field. Stories evoke images of rapt audiences, dramatic arcs, and unexpected plot twists. Unfortunately this analogy is a stretch.”

Why good storytelling helps you design great products by Braden Kowitz
“It’s not uncommon for designers to confuse a beautiful looking product with one that works beautifully. A great technique for creating smarter, better products is to approach them using story-centered design.”

How might rhetoric inform information design? (Quora) and related blog post by Stewart McCoy



See full collection of some of the best blog posts, presentations, research papers, and other resources that take on this topic by Zach Gemignani.

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