The Fifth Elephant 2013

An Event on Big Data and Cloud Computing

Amit Kapoor


Telling visual stories with data

Submitted Jun 5, 2013

Data visualisation has enabled us to compress data and express them visually in many interesting new ways. It is often cited that we are trying to tell stories through them. Is that really the case? How can we ensure that the audience / consumer is able to RETAIN - RECALL - RETELL our data-driven stories.


“I think people have begun to forget how powerful human stories are, ex-changing their sense of empathy for a fetishistic fascination with data, networks, patterns, and total information... Really, the data is just part of the story. The human stuff is the main stuff, and the data should enrich it.” - Jonathan Harris

In this presentation, I intend to explore the idea that we need to find stronger and better ways of integerating narrative storytelling as part of our data visualisation. Some questions that will be examined in the session are:

  • What elements of traditional storytelling can be embedded as part of the data-driven visualization?
  • How do we balance the narrative flow of the visualization to tell a story along with the need for the audience / consumer to discover the story themselves?
  • What elements of design and interactivity help us to better tell these data-driven stories?

I will use examples from my work and other real-world examples to together explore these topics.

Speaker bio

I currently experiment with learning and teaching storytelling with data at StorySpine and with storytelling in general at Utsmaya and Kathalaya. My background is in strategy consulting for more than 10 years, first with AT Kearney in India and then with Booz & Company in Europe, in using data-driven stories to drive change. I did my B.Tech from IIT, Delhi and PGDM from IIM, Ahmedabad.



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