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Story Types: A Thought-Starter

{Note: a version this blog post was also published on the DataRemixed blog.}

Every data set contains a myriad of stories. I'm using the word "story" in a liberal way here, not necessarily in the "bedtime story" kind of way, or even the "headline news story" kind of way. By "story", I simply mean a sequence of data-driven statements that progressively explain the world we live in.

When it comes to even simple data sets, these types of data stories abound, some more interesting than others. Whenever I run workshops along with my Tableau Public teammates, we're amazed at how each group, given the exact same data set, comes up with unique insights.

Earlier this month the UN celebrated World Population Day - a day to "raise awareness of global population issues" according to the wikipedia page. I decided to play a game and see how many different data stories I could tell with the a simple spreadsheet of population, birth rates and death rates for every country since 1960 as obtained from the World Bank's online data repository.

I came up with six: 1) change over time, 2) drill-down, 3) contrast, 4) intersections, 5) different factors, 6) outliers and trends. Click on the image below to open the viz, use the tabs across the top to see the different stories, and use the tiles within each story to read each story point:

World Population Data Story Points

I ended this experiment with a feeling that I was just scratching the surface, and that there are many more data stories to be found and told from even this simple data set on world population.

I encourage you to consider these six story points types as thought-starters for whatever data set you are working on. I also encourage you to download the workbook and see how many more you can tell.

Thanks for stopping by,
Ben

Comments

This post by Ben Jones is eye-opening and useful for thinking about how one might go about telling a story using data, even simple data. An excellent template for beginning infographic creators.

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