Storytelling with Data: a book review and my takeaways

As a child, I loved telling stories. I’d take my favorite book and TV characters and create a world where they would oh-so-conveniently meet. Say, a magical anime girl wanders Narnia until she encounters the now-villainous Power Rangers.

As an adult in the corporate world, I still want to tell stories. But now I find that people are more critical of which stories I tell them.

It must be in the form of numbers, they said.

It’s a data-driven world, they said.

In Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’s book Storytelling with Data, she argues we can do just that: tell stories with numbers.

language + math = data storytelling

She takes traditional storytelling concepts then re-interprets them for “adult-appropriate” tables and charts. She teaches us to edit our charts, the same way authors do their stories, by borrowing principles of visual design.

My key takeaways from the book can be found below (click for larger size), but they can be summarized as follows:

  1. Context is king. The form your data will take depends on your audience and what you want them to do with the data.
  2. Choose the right graph to best express the key message (I’ve made a flowchart in my notes to help with that).
  3. Following on #1, design around this message.
  4. Present your data as you would a story, with a beginning, middle, and end.
“Storytelling with Data” notes, by dannaisadork

P.S. Sorry about the terrible handwriting. My normal penmanship’s already pretty bad, but writing on a tablet made it worse!


Continue reading “Storytelling with Data: a book review and my takeaways”


How much will Valentine’s Day cost me?

J.Lo may say “Love Don’t Cost a Thing”, but Americans are planning to spend $136.57 on Valentine’s Day anyway.

How much does Valentine's Day cost?

When I chanced upon the results of NRF’s Valentine’s Day Spending Survey I knew it was the perfect material for this week’s post. Data from a reliable source that’s actually relevant and interesting? Ah, be still my geeky heart.

In today’s post, I talk through the thought process in coming up with an infographic like the one I made above.


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Infographic: How the World Reads

Did you know that people in India read the most, at an average of 10.4 hours a week? Or that reading can enhance your memory and lessen your chances of getting Alzheimer’s?

When I worked from Australia last year, my colleagues were surprised to find out how much time I spent reading. And how often I would visit the bookstores. And how much money I was spending on books. Why wasn’t I doing sports instead? they asked.

Of all the things to get culture shock from, I was definitely not expecting books. My reading habit is considered the norm in the Philippines. I know many people who spend more hours reading on the average than I do.

Turns out, how often you read is all relative. The infographic below by FeelGoodContacts shows that the Philippines comes in fourth in hours spent reading (whereas Australia doesn’t even appear in the list). For more interesting facts about reading, check out the infographic below… then raise your own country’s average by reading!

How the World ReadsPlease include attribution to with this graphic.

Big Data Analytics Conference 2016

The Philippine analytics industry is still in it’s infancy. There is a demand for the skills NOW, and this demand will grow even more in the coming years.

This is the key takeaway from the Big Data Analytics Conference 2016, held at Enderun Tent last 15 November 2016. It was the first conference of it’s kind and scale in the Philippines, gathering participants from the IT, business, academic, and health industries.

As someone considering a possible career shift, I wanted to find out if there will be a market to shift to, and what are the kind of skills they’re looking for.

Below are my notes from the event, along with some insights.

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Notes: You Suck at Excel with Joel Spolsky

One day I’m going to write about how Excel was (is?) my gateway tool to Data Science.

Today is not that day.

Today I’m going to rave about an Excel ‘tutorial’ video which not is not only useful, but also entertaining. It’s Joel Spolsky’s “You Suck at Excel.”

The video walks you through common Excel user “pains in the butt”, and how to NOT do them. I can’t believe I haven’t discovered this sooner.

If you have an hour to spare, please please PLEASE use it to watch this video. It will save you a lot of headache later.

Joel has made his notes available here, while mine can be found below.