Exploring Data

Telling Stories with Data

When we create a visualization, we are not telling a story; we are just making a point. A story needs to have emotion and a meaningful climax. The climax need not even be fully comprehensible, but it is vital to a story.
7 types of stories (according to the book 'The Seven Basic Plots' by Christopher Booker):
  • Overcoming the Monster
  • Rebirth
  • Rags to Riches
  • Voyage and Return
  • Comedy
  • Tragedy
  • The Quest

Story Structure Types

  • The Hero's Journey (Joseph Campbell)
  • Kurt Vonnegut's Story Structure
  • Freytag's Pyramid
    This is usually used to show the structure of a dramatic work, sich as a play or film, but isn't suited for storytelling through data. This is because 'Falling Action' and 'Resolution' do not make sense in the context of data.

Annotation, Narration and Story

These are three terms that must not be used interchangeably.
Annotation is when labels are added to visualizations to help the viewer better comprehend the visualization.
A narration guides the viewer through a visualization or a series of visualizations.
A story builds on top of a narrative and has emotions and a meaningful climax.

Repetition, Pictures and Story

Repetition of key aspects transfers the concepts from short-term memory to long-term memory in the minds of the viewers.
Pictures provide visual impact and aid visual memory: people remeber not just what they heard, but also what they saw.
The story is the most important part, it conveys a message, makes the viewer feel emotions and has a meaningful climax.