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This is a guest post by Joan DiMicco, who heads the IBM Visual Communication Lab. Matt McKeon, Karrie Karahalios, and Joan hosted a workshop on Telling Stories with Data. These are the highlights.
What is a story? In a classic sense, a story has characters, events, and a progression. In our postmodern, meta-obsessed culture, we also tend to think about story in terms of the identities of the author and audience.
Now what if the story involves data? How does visualization support telling a story with data? How do journalists think about data visualization as part of their stories? How can visualization tools help data storytellers construct narratives?
At VisWeek 2010 in Salt Lake City, Matt McKeon, Karrie Karahalios, and I organized a workshop to explore this topic of Telling Stories with Data. We were initially motivated by our observation that people often use visualization to share personal perspectives and to tell stories about social situations.
Yet the things that we found most striking about reaction to this visualization went beyond the issues we tend to think about as visualization designers. Matt found that changing a single sentence in the framing text of the visualization radically altered the nature of the comments that people made. Furthermore, as the story spread, people retold it as their own story, using the data visualization to describe elements from their personal experiences with Facebook.
This suggests factors that transcend the boundaries of "Visualization Design 101" and that affect the creation,...