Infographic: The rise of data storytelling
Humanity is creating more data than ever before, and more of that data is publicly available.
While “data is the new oil” has almost become a cliché, the impact that the abundance of data has on the world is undeniable. All of the world’s most valuable companies rely heavily on data for their continued success. Even oil giant Saudi Aramco, the world’s most valuable company, runs a 6,000 m² data center and partners with Google Cloud.
In a world where almost everything is quantified, communicating insights from this data becomes a huge opportunity. It’s here that data storytelling Simply put, it’s the difference between just making a chart and actually explaining what it means, why it’s important, and how it fits into the larger context. This style of data-driven communication is popping up everywhere, from newsrooms to corporate communications.
Here we examine five megatrends fueling the rise of data storytelling.
① Information overload
It is estimated that between 2015 and 2025, the world will see a 16-fold increase in data.
- The bad news: the rising tide of information is growing faster than our ability to exploit it
- The good news: this growing universe of data promises to be better understood, if used correctly.
Fortunately, data storytelling is an emerging field that thrives on the abundance of information.
As our society and economy become more complex, higher quality, actionable information is essential for today’s decision makers.
② Declining trust in the media
Trust in the news media has been declining for decades, and in many countries around the world, the majority of people do not believe the media is a reliable source of information.
Trust in social media is also fragile. Only a third of people surveyed worldwide believe that social media is a reliable source of information. Additionally, a recent poll found that 75% of American adults believe that political views are likely to be censored by social media platforms.
The mass media ecosystem as it currently exists faces a crisis of confidence. When a system no longer adequately meets the needs of its users, that system is ripe for disruption.
③ Win-win dynamics
This abundance of information should propel humanity forward, but more often than not, valuable information is lost in the noise, either poorly presented or pushed to the margins by clickbait and other distractions.
Today, most of us rely on algorithms and aggregators to provide us with information. Over time, these systems become very good at providing us with information that is generally what we are looking for. The downside, however, is that engagement-driven algorithms only reward the most compelling stories. The handful of stories you see are the result of fierce, Darwinist competition on platforms like Twitter or Medium.
This hyper-competitive environment is part of the reason there are so many problems with the media today – clickbait and tabloidization are two prominent examples.
Data storytelling takes potentially dry and complex topics and makes them more accessible, compelling, and more likely to win people’s attention.
④ Go beyond the text
Many of our existing systems look the way they do partly because of past technological limitations.
Search engines, for example, are still largely driven by textual considerations. This makes sense because the early days of the Internet were basically a collection of pages with text and hyperlinks.
Today, search engines take other forms of information much better into account, and technological advances are opening up new avenues in the analysis of video and data visualizations. Advances in AI may soon allow users to search for visualizations in a way that doesn’t even involve textual keywords.
In a future where finding information in a visual format is as intuitive as a Google search is today, the utility and reach of data storytelling will increase dramatically.
⑤ Democratization of Data Storytelling
Even though the number of people with professional qualifications in data analysis, data science and other similar professions is increasing, it has never been easier for laypersons to create and publish data visualizations. high quality.
Free tools that can be used on almost any device have broken down access barriers for millions of people around the world. There is now a universe of resources for people and organizations looking to convert data into an engaging visual format.
Below is a shortlist of data storytelling resources ranging from intuitive design tools to powerful coding language libraries:
Of course, there are plenty of other resources, and we’ll cover these in more detail in the future.
The last mile
The concept of “last mile” is commonly associated with e-commerce. Fulfillment can be centralized in massive hubs and delivery can be optimized with uniform trucks and precise routes, but neighborhoods and residences refuse to conform to rigid standards. The last mile is where the orderly world of logistics fragments into the random, making this leg of the journey the toughest problem for companies like Amazon to solve.
This last mile analogy also lends itself to communication. Analytics and datasets can be tweaked and made publicly available, but the real world is messy. Humans are unpredictable, each with their own learning style and different levels of data literacy.
Also, unlike e-commerce, which begins with a definite request, information comes in the form of unexpected flashes. These moments of serendipity need the right conditions to happen, and the fact is that most sources of high-quality information (databases, white papers, reports, etc.) are only accessible to the small number of people who search for a living person.
This is the great opportunity offered by data storytelling. High-quality information is distilled into a more digestible, memorable, and shareable form, allowing more people to benefit from this age of information abundance.
Simply put: data storytelling bridges the gap between underutilized knowledge and the growing number of people struggling to separate signal from noise.