Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Data Goes Best With a Good Story/stories are memorable in a way that statistics aren’t

"I wanted to start with this idea of “In One Chart Journalism” ..."

So begins the interview section of this article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) that I found interesting:

Data Goes Best With a Good Story (and Vice Versa) - Walter Frick - Harvard Business Review:
Storytelling with data is having its moment in the journalism world. After leaving The New York Times last year, Nate Silver has launched his new data journalism venture with ESPN , former Washington Post blogger and columnist Ezra Klein is expanding his chart-filled approach beyond public policy at Vox.com, and both the Times and the Post are starting their own data-driven sites to replace their departed stars.

While none of these ventures rely solely on charts and data to serve readers, The Post’s is explicitly betting that data on its own isn’t enough. Its forthcoming policy-focused website is premised on the notion that data and narrative go best together. The lesson for anyone looking to communicate or persuade using data is that the addition of human drama goes a long way.
Read the entire article at the Harvard Business Review

"stories are memorable in a way that statistics aren’t" (source)

Some history/references indicating why I find this of interest:
Here's a related video from Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker. If you check the comments at YouTube you could catch me getting taught.

Also worth a read today is David Frum's last article for CNN - as he moves to TheAtlantic.com (the AtlanticWire is the site the One Chart Journalism link point to):
The fastest way to generate such a sense of community is to conjure up threats: health scares, crime waves, wars on Christmas. Isolated in self-selected communities, these threats won't be tested very hard against contrary realities. As every roller-coaster owner knows, people like to be scared. Unreal fears are the best of all, since nobody in the end really gets hurt. The faster today's fears evanesce, the more compulsively must the audience return tomorrow for more.
Information has never been more accessible and abundant. And yet so much of that information turns out not be true. And whereas in early terms it was the least informed people who were vulnerable to the grossest inaccuracies, today it is very often the nominally best informed.
I think that explains both the power of narrative and the importance of data/evidence/dialogue.
I suspect Frum is onto the explanation for the separation between knowledge and belief noted the recently in What people “believe” about global warming doesn’t reflect what they know; it expresses who they are.

Somewhere in all that is an explanation of the recent rise, in certain cities, of "think tank" drones


After posting I received a tweet referencing 5 Elements of Visualization: Story is only 4th
I witnessed multiple times how storytelling triggered the Venture Capitalists (VCs) to invest... 
Some of conclusions from all these startup storytelling activity were:
  • Data: without Data nothing can be proved or disproved (Action needs Data!)
  • View: best way to analyze Data and trust it is to Visualize it (Seeing is Believing!)
  • Discovery of Patterns: visually discoverable trends, outliers, clusters etc. which form the basis of the Story and follow-up actions
  • Story: the Story (based on that Data) is the Trigger for the Actions (Story shows the Value!),
  • Action(s): start with drilldown to a needle in haystack, embed Data Visualization into business, it is not an Eye Candy but a practical way to improve the business
  • Data Visualization has 5 parts: Data (main), View (enabler), Discovery (visually discoverable Patterns), Story (trigger for Actions) and finally the 5th Element – Action!
  • Life is not fair: Storytellers were there people who benefited the most in the end… (no Story no Glory!).

The entire entry cites Hans Rosling as a storyteller - which deserves an embed of Rosling's Washing Machine TED talk:

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