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September 21, 2018

How Communication Has Evolved Over Time

By: Katie Pauly

While historians and archaeologists cannot pinpoint the exact beginning of storytelling, it is clear that this tradition stretches back centuries. It is also clear that once storytelling became a form of communication, it soon became a coveted and cherished way of preserving a culture, imparting wisdom, and sharing life experiences. Members of a culture were actually selected to become their society’s storyteller; it was considered an honor to be trusted with the importance of passing tradition and culture on from generation to generation. Although the practical need for oral storytelling has changed with the invention of paper and writing, the social need has remained much the same: people want to feel connected to others, a cause, their job, a mission, etc., and storytelling accomplishes that.

The art of storytelling is one of the few mediums of communication that changes very little based on content. No matter what story is trying to be portrayed, whether it is how your morning went, or how you got a new job, you are trying to capture the attention of your audience, build to a climactic point, share an experience, and build a connection with that person or group of people. Storytelling conveys all of the emotions and insights behind facts and shows people why they should care about what they are listening to or reading. Even industries typically thought of as complex and technical are moving to sharing results and findings through stories in order to take complicated jargon and convey the important parts like the “situation, complication, resolution, and most importantly, meaning” as this article on science and storytelling states.

We have to ask ourselves why, then, is the communication of data still left to the few who can understand the meaning of data solely through complicated analysis and configuration of numbers, graphs, and charts. Would it not make more sense if the communication were to be available to all through the power of storytelling? Instead of just seeing your data, a story would allow you to read and understand why something happened, what influenced that occurrence, what is important about the event, and more. It would allow empowering people to take action with their data by communicating it in the most natural way for people to understand.

In a world where instant insights, efficient accessibility, and the ability to take action are no longer desired but necessitated, Narrative Science is forging ahead with making data accessible and understandable to all through the use of plain-language stories.