CMS.631 | Spring 2017 | Undergraduate
Data Storytelling Studio: Climate Change
Instructor Insights

Compelling Data Storytelling Techniques

In this section, four students who took CMS.631 Data Storytelling Studio in either Spring 2017 or Spring 2016 discuss data telling storytelling techniques they found compelling in the course.

Almaha Almalki, Graduate Student, Collective Learning Group | MIT Media Lab

"Prior to taking CMS.631 Data Storytelling Studio, I always focused on how to create web-based visualizations without thinking of other forms. After taking the class, I’m more interested in how can we can combine digital and physical forms to convey a story."
— Alma Almalki, Graduate Student

I found data sculptures to be fascinating and inspiring. Prior to taking CMS.631 Data Storytelling Studio, I always focused on how to create web-based visualizations without thinking of other forms. After taking the class, I’m more interested in how can we can combine digital and physical forms to convey a story.

Anonymous, Graduate Student, MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing

I really liked the unit on data physicalization. Research has shown that the more senses you engage when interacting with something, the more likely you are to remember it, so I thought that turning data into something you could not only see but also hear or smell or (in my group’s case) touch was a really effective way to communicate a data story. It also makes the data more interactive in many cases, which attracts people.

Kendra Pierre-Louis, Graduate Student, MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing

I found personal stories particularly engaging. There is something about digging down into the data and pulling it out that makes it resonate.

Felipe Lozano-Landinez, Undergraduate, Technology for Social Systems | MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering

The most compelling technique for me was data sculpture; this technique essentially tries to embody data in a tangible medium. This is the technique that was used by my team in the final project (Whispers of Freedom), in which we gathered audio data and created electromechanical birds that represented the hopes, aspirations, and wonder of the ideas spoken. I thought this technique was incredibly compelling because of its ability to create empathy. Making the data “alive” through non-quantitative means makes the concept much more relatable and personable. The audience understands this at an organic level, and they are drawn to learning more. It’s much more engaging. Long story short, it is much more memorable. And in many cases, that’s the entire point.

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As Taught In
Spring 2017
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