From Babel to Barcelona

… If we hear “Once upon a time,” we will not leave until we find out what happened. Scheherazade saved her life by telling stories that never ended. We are Homo narrans, the species that is hooked by narrative, that imposes cause and effect to make things make sense. …

Yes, information science is quantitative. But data mining is also storytelling. When analysts crunch the yottabytes of data that our planet now produces, it is not just numbers they find; it is narratives. The visualization of findings is as much art as math. Sentiment analysis must in part be an interpretive act, alive to the play of language. Dashboards increasingly resemble video games. Recommendation algorithms are fun for consumers. Analytics unearth hidden dramas — new stories about what we do with our time and our money; new patterns we had no idea we were part of; imaginative new ways to thread the needles of our lives. [cont. – PDF]

Marty Kaplan, Norman Lear Center, USC