The designer Stefan Sagmeister has a message for those who would presume to call themselves a “storyteller” when they’re not really: “No, fuckhead, you’re not a storyteller.” I agree, except for one word: yet. Many could become one.
The stage lights go up, the cue is given, and the much-anticipated DataStorytelling strides in from stage left, and the spotlight focuses. Then from somewhere outside the light a pie lands on Storytelling’s face. Whipped cream flies everywhere, and the curtain falls.
John Coltrane, the great jazz saxophonist, drew a staff on a fogged-over window. Then he drew notes. Then he played the notes.
That’s the story. The notes were the data.
I am acutely aware that I work at arm’s length from actual users of the data products I ghostwrite on behalf of. The users are there, I know, even if they are only phantoms to me. The wisps of data collected in surveys provide some of the few signs that I or many of my colleagues ever sense a pulse out there in that other world.