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Illustrated data stories from my recent course
How do you go about learning data storytelling?
We’ve just completed the second cohort of my public data storytelling course, and it was fun and insightful. My favourite thing to do after completing a cohort is to brag about the work of the awesome participants. Today, I want to share two projects that I’m sure will inspire your own data storytelling practice.
But first, some context.
The course I teach is divided into three modules. The participants choose a dataset to work with and then:
Craft a storyline based on data insights,
Design charts that illustrate the story,
Present the story in front of the group.
The image below captures the story structure we work with.
What does this look like in practice? Let’s dive in.
It’s getting hot in here
Elizabeth worked on a topic that speaks to those among us who live in urban areas—tube temperatures. Here’s her storyline:
Context: We all look for optimal ways to travel through London’s underground network. When checking the potential itineraries, we’re often given 2-3 options and timing is typically the key criteria for the final choice. But even short trips can be hot and uncomfortable.
Conflict: Is travel time the only criteria that matters? What about temperatures? Are some tube lines less hot and more comfortable than others?
Climax: There is a difference of up to 9 degrees between some London tube lines. There’s an even bigger difference—10 degrees!—between the inside of the tube and the platform on which you wait for your train. Which line is the winner? The Victoria line: the temperature inside it goes up to 27 degrees. In London winter! The fresher options are the Jubilee and Waterloo & City lines.
Confirmation: Not all lines were included in the dataset (provided by TFL) so the analysis needs to be expanded. We have high hopes for the Elizabeth Line that opened last year and that has air conditioning!
Closure: While the tube is great to cover a long distance within a short period of time, there are also other transport options that will help you avoid the tropical temperatures while moving around London. Why not hop on a bus, cycle or experience the joy of walking?
The visuals that supported the story were witty and crisp:
Fear the fallout
Marjorie worked on a slightly grimmer topic—security and risk perception among the French population. Her storyline can be summarised as follows:
Context: Through annual surveys, the Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute captures the perception of the French population towards risks and security. Every year, they collect replies to the following question: which catastrophic event do you find the most frightening?
Conflict: Is rationality at play when we think of catastrophic events? Do we fear what is objectively dangerous?
Climax: Chernobyl always comes up at the top of the list of answers, even though it’s the oldest event in the survey. It's also not the deadliest nor the closest disaster to France. But even in 2022, it was still the most frightening risk the French respondents could think of. Objectively, it does seem irrational.
Confirmation: But perception is more complicated than that. Researchs suggests that fear of nuclear power may be linked to a lack of confidence after Chernobyl, an extensive unfavorable media coverage, and a strong association between nuclear power and the proliferation and use of nuclear weapons.
Closure: Emotions and ideas are more deeply rooted than we realise. “Nuclear energy was conceived in secrecy, born in war and first reveal to the world in horror. No matter how much proponents try to separate the peaceful from the weapon atom, the connection is firmly embedded in the minds of the public.” Smith, 1988
The accompanying design was powerful and beautiful:
These examples are quite different in style but both offer a clear, concise, and effective data story. In a fun coincidence, Marjorie works for a public transport company in France and loves the idea of adding temperatures inside different metro lines to their app 🙃
As always, thanks for reading The Plot! 👩🏻🏫 This was its 50th edition and I’m super grateful that you’re here.
See you next week,
Weekly gem 🤩
Corporate diversity. I loved this long piece by Bloomberg; check it out for beautiful charts and clearly structured insights.