Good stories inspire.

The most memorable and most influential people in one’s life are the good storytellers. What we normally consider as the most memorable teachers in our younger years were the ones who connected with you and told the best stories. Such is the same takeaway from this course as I begin my journey in data science. This course will hopefully remind me that at the end of all the technical, mathematical, analytical work that one will do, and all the lines of code that will be written, you have to tell a good story. Good stories will inspire you. Good stories will call people to action. The stories told by a person help perpetuate the influence of that person long beyond the time the story is told.

Not only should the story be impactful, it should also be truthful. This course has also taught me that though we should aim to write an impactful story, it should always tell what is true. Though the story will highlight what we want people to remember, we should not hide what is ugly in that truth. Calls to action should carry with them the complete information one needs to act. One should also be aware that one’s search for truth is limited by the data gathered and the methodology employed to gather that data. Those limitations should be emphasized to the audience that your data analysis will be presented to so that the messages will be received as truthfully as possible. Ignoring certain information, like the Challenger case, can lead to disastrous consequences.

And speaking of audience, finally one should remember that though it is important to know your audience, one should be prepared for the possibility that different members of your audience will still receive your stories differently, so as I will tell my data stories in the future, I should remember to connect with my audience, both collectively and individually. I should interact, connect and if the opportunity presents itself, even get feedback.

In early human history, knowledge and information was passed on through the oral tradition, or storytelling. It is interesting that we have returned to a similar mode of transferring information and knowledge, but now filled with the power of data, technology, and the internet, to make a bigger impact in human history.

This essay was a requirement under the DVS class and has been published with permission from the author, one of my MSDS students. - Prof. E