Data storytelling: The story behind the numbers

About 4% of WhatsApp users are 65 or more years old. If you'd just look at the bar chart of WhatsApp users distribution by age, I'm not sure you will make much of this fact. It's a bit lower than Facebook's senior citizens usage, for example ( about 7% ), and I suppose neither company looks at this age group as their main target audience. So the numbers are not impressive in this case, but if we think about the story behind them, they might seem much more significant. Many of these people were born before the first electronic computer started operating in 1946, and here they are, using smart phone apps to communicate with family and friends. So in fact, these small percentile numbers tell much more of the smartphone revolution story than the bigger numbers. Data storytelling is the art of finding and telling the stories behind data and facts. It is a spinoff of the current traits in journalism. Those that were born out of the need to capture the attention of an audience with a very short attention span. According to this new approach, an automotive journalists will write something like, "behind me, 265 horses are dashing at a perfect pitch of 6700 RPM" instead of merely mentioning that the Porsche Boxter's engine provides 265hp @ 6700 RPM. They will do so because it makes the text more fun to read, the facts more memorable, and most importantly, because it encodes the story with the mental keys of those who are out for buying a sports car and don't care just about horsepower and torque, but are looking for a much more tacit driving experience. In our data-driven world, where we are constantly bombarded with numbers and charts, it is many times hard to tell what we should notice and what we should ignore. Data storytelling hooks up into our enchant story based communication instincts, and by doing so, helps us find our way trough the chaos

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