Andy Cotgreave on data without emotion

Tableau senior technical evangelist Andy Cotgreave
Tableau senior technical evangelist Andy Cotgreave

Tableau’s senior technical evangelist Andy Cotgreave has boarded the data storytelling wagon. Actually, I don’t know how long he’s been there, but an article he wrote caught my attention today. He says that data without emotion is “worthless.” I agree!

Consider also the terrible Syrian refugee crisis affecting the Middle East and Europe. This tragedy had received a lot of attention from data journalists (e.g. The Economist back in Jan 2013), but the public didn’t truly engage until we saw the shocking photo of the drowned toddler on the beach. The impact of that single photo transformed public awareness in a way thousands of charts in news stories had not.

Does this mean our efforts with data are always doomed to be ignored? No, but it does mean we need to focus on making our data connect with people. If we want to drive change, we need to bring in emotions, narratives and the personal.

His passion and his lessons for data mongers makes it worth a read. Read the rest on Linkedin.

Leave a reply

Other recent posts

Qlik finally set to leapfrog Tableau?

Who’s your rival? I carelessly asked a Qlik person at the company’s annual analyst reception Monday night in Miami if she hadn’t once worked for Tableau. Her revulsion was immediate. “No! Never!,” she said. We smiled. There was so much more to talk about. For one thing, how will private equity change things? Qlik wasn’t… Continue Reading

Five Tips for Better Data Stories

Originally published on September 22, 2015 in BI This Week, a TDWI publication. A “data story” sounds like such a great idea. You just mix data with storytelling and you’re done — except that most data storytellers get one thing wrong: they drown out the story with data. Such storytellers, I believe, assume that audiences… Continue Reading

Bohemian Grove a la BI

The Bohemian Grove of the BI industry convenes for the fifteenth time in just three weeks. Naturally, you ask the obvious question: Are you serious? The Grove? A summit? The answer begins with a fond recollection of the Grove. If you’ve never attended the Bohemian Grove yourself — I haven’t, though I live in the… Continue Reading

Favorite Star Trek, a data story

This story shows how elemental data stories really are. Humans come ready to tell and hear them, requiring no plug-ins at all. This young person can do a good job of it. There was a question, followed by data, then questions and answers, and and finally a conclusion. It’s all there. It’s elementary. Sure, this… Continue Reading