Stories about data

About this topic

Stories and storytelling can be excellent teaching tools, in the classroom and out. Many of us use stories to illustrate what can go wrong without careful planning, but sharing the success stories is also a great way to empower researchers to adopt emerging tools and practices. We have gathered some of the best and most powerful stories that we know, but we want to hear your stories too! Check our activities for ways to share and engage in the conversation.

Data professionals share and discuss these kinds of stories almost daily. But the researchers we support and collaborate with may not be as tuned into this conversation. Conversely, data generalists like data librarians or subject librarians with data responsibilities, may not be aware of the very technical and advanced efforts in particular disciplines. If this interests you, be sure to check out our Connected Conversations topic! These stories about how data is produced, consumed (or ignored), and managed are powerful tools. They can help us illustrate needs, provide evidence to demonstrate how practice is changing, and spark productive discussions. Stories reflect the complexities of our culture and how we understand the world.

Data stories from the Research Data Alliance & Digital Curation Centre communities, curated by Inna Kouper

Dorothea Salo has a pinboard full of data horror stories – great for teaching or learning from other people’s mistakes!

Information is beautiful shows us what the world’s biggest data breaches looks like – and it isn’t pretty!

You may be interested in the IASSIST/CARTO 2018 Joint Conference: Once upon a data point: Sustaining our data storytellers (May 29 – June 1, 2018)

There are some great books out that describe how data can be dangerous when using irresponsibly. Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil and The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms that Control Money and Information by Frank Pasquale are two great options to start with!

How Big Data Went Bust

The Triple Aim at the Frontlines: Lessons from a VA Experience in Using Data to Drive Change – video + document

Policy making without Data – Mass Shootings, Climate, Discrimination: Why Government’s Fear of Data Threatens Us All

Can big data be used as a social good?

Let’s ease into the week. Share your favorite data stories with us!

What? Write your own data stories or data poem. Tell us about your favorite data set or collection and why you love it (could be personal or professional reasons: research ambition, historic value, scientific/policy/social impact.)

How? Submit to our blog via Google Form, email us, or Tweet a thread with the hashtags #lovedata18 & #mydatastory
Discussion Prompts

What does your data look like? Is it numeric, images, textual, audio or visual, or something else?
What obstacles do you face in working with data?
What are your favorite tools for wrangling data?
How do you search for data?