Posted by Kristie Wells on March 11, 2014 in Events

Thanks to the marketers, advertisers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and engineers, etc. that joined and participated in our SXSW Interactive Core Conversation on how big data can tell personalized stories.

EVP of Product at, Eric Shoup, and Senior Director of Product at Tableau, Francois Ajenstat, led an engaging discussion centered on the presentation below and under that is a quick recap of some of the discussion points from the conversation:


High level points from the conversation

Main questions:

  • What does Big Data look like and what questions should you be asking in order to visualize the correct data?
  • What’s the difference between *telling* a story and *visualizing* a story?
  • Who are you trying to connect to when you present your data?
  • Are infographics allowing for discovery and deeper engagement if they do not invite users to explore the data, infographic, or visualization?
  • What are the challenges inherent in unlocking data insights and stories?
  • How do you deal with gaps in the data?
  • What is the future of storytelling with data?


  • Keep it simple— presenting massive amounts of data in a digestible way can be difficult, the hardest part is to ask what you can remove from your presentation of the data and still get the point or story across. Start with a question. If there are gaps in the data – let them be. Let the data speak for itself.
  • Visualize the data – Think of your analysis as a story. Visuals can help pull out a previously hidden story.
  • Know your audience – Know how and why your data is being shared, and make it relevant.
  • Invite discovery – Create points of context for your end user. Allow users to interact with the data for deeper engagement. Give actionable items in the visualizations.

What were your takeaways? Add them in the comments below and keep the conversation going on Twitter by using the hashtag #datastory. We would love to see more examples of great stories being shared from the analysis of big data.


Kristie Wells

Kristie is Ancestry's former Head of Global Social Media and Online Customer Engagement.


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