Join Bill Shander for an in-depth discussion in this video Progressive depth, part of Data Visualization: Storytelling.
- [Instructor] Some stories are simple, and they stay simple. I love simplicity, but simple doesn't mean simplistic. And as I've talked about many times, the point isn't that everything has to be simple, but that you have to present simple, higher level information to people to get them to self-select in for deeper and more complex content, based on their interest in the subject matter. That's the entire basis of my four-by-four model for knowledge content. I describe it more fuller in my Data Visualization Fundamentals course, but the basic idea is that you have to present content to people in four levels.
I call them The Water Cooler, The Cafe, The Research Library, and The Lab. The Water Cooler moment is essentially that initial attention-grabbing piece of content. It's the thing that lets people decide whether or not they're interested in what you're talking about. Just like if you're at the water cooler, they'll decide if they want to hang out and talk longer. If they do want to talk longer, they'll go to the cafe with you and have a cup of coffee. So The Water Cooler moment is like the image or the headline. The Cafe content is like the blog post or the short article, three to five-minute video. If they're really still interested in the topic, they'll go to the research library.
They will dig deep. They will read the 100-page PDF. And finally, you have The Lab experience, which is like that interactive data experience, where people can explore the content much more deeply and maybe on their own. Those are the four levels of content. The point is that, whether you create Research Library or Lab-level content, however deep you do go, you always have to create Water Cooler content first, followed by Cafe content, followed by whatever comes after that. It's all about stepping people into content, and letting them self-select based on their interest in what you are talking about.
And the second four in the four-by-four, or just the four key things you have to bake into that content at all the levels, Visualization. Story Telling, Interactivity, and Shareability. This model is really the best way to provide any type of content to any audience to attract the right audience to the right content at the right time. In data storytelling, this leads to idea that you can create data stories that offer progressive depth. Rather than simple, you start off with a very high-level Water Cooler moment, and then offer deeper levels of content for those who choose to experience it.
One example is this experience that I created for an architecture firm called EYP. This website is looking at survey data from faculty and staff at two universities where this firm builds new STEM buildings, right? Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math buildings. At College of the Holy Cross and Wheaton College, both in Massachusetts, and the basic idea is they wanted to find out have these buildings, has this new design, had a positive impact on your academic experience at these schools.
The basic idea was to create a storyline, essentially talking about six over-arching things, and so I'm just going to open up the menu here. So essentially, in addition to an introduction, this is a linear storytelling experience if you want it to be. I can read the Introduction, and then I can read, essentially, these six vignettes. I can learn about the Information Learning spaces, the Destination Place, which we can look at later, the Research Labs, the Teaching Labs, the interaction, the opportunities for interaction, because of how the building was designed, as well the Visibility, the fact that there's a lot of glass walls in between spaces.
And the point is that if I click into any one of these vignettes, I get the over-arching, very high-level story line. So, Informal Learning spaces, did the informal areas of the building facilitate learning and intellectual discourse. This is sort of the question for this vignette, and the vast majority of Science Majors and Non-Majors said yes. That's like the top-level of the story line. This is the water-cooler moment. If I'm interested in this subject matter and I want to dive deeper and go a little bit more into, let's say, cafe content, I can click into View Details and take that level of depth down, this progressive depth experience.
The point is that this is all about progressive depth. There is a really interesting paper that came out of Stanford a few years ago called Narrative Visualization: Telling Stories with Data. And in that paper, they talked about this idea of progressive depth. They refer to it as the martini glass structure. As it said in the paper, following a tight narrative path early on, and that's the stem of the glass, and then opening up later for free exploration, the body of the glass. I like this visual, but I still like my title better, because it's all about adding progressive depth.
Again, based on the audiences desire to get that depth. This story mechanism is the four-by-four model in action, and it's the most effective and thorough type of data storytelling. If you have an audience that might seek depth in your content, this is a great way to offer it to them.
Join data visualization expert Bill Shander as he guides you through the process of turning "facts and figures" into "story" to engage and fulfill our human expectation for information. This course is intended for anyone who works with data and has to communicate it to others, whether a researcher, a data analyst, a consultant, a marketer, or a journalist. Bill shows you how to think about, and craft, stories from data by examining many compelling stories in detail.
- Creating a narrative structure for data
- Applying narrative to data
- Identifying what you want to say with the data
- Analyzing what your data is saying
- Determining what your audience needs to hear
- Leveraging tables, charts, and visuals
- Ensuring your narrative provides context and direction