Chapter 5. Data

Transforming Data into Narrative Content

By Jenn Webb

One of the largest by-products of the digital revolution is data, and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to harness and make use of the increasing variety of data. In the following interview, Kristian Hammond, CTO of Narrative Science, talks about how his company generates narrative stories from gathered data — a function that could play out very well in content organizations such as newspapers, allowing them to scale content without having to hire more staff.

Hammond says stories grounded in data work best — think sports stories, to start — and that the increasing amounts and kinds of data being produced create new opportunities for the kinds of stories that can be generated — think pharmaceutical testing reports.

What does Narrative Science do and how are you applying the technology to journalism?

Kristian Hammond: Narrative Science is a Chicago-based company that is focused on the automatic generation of stories from data. Spun out of the schools of Engineering and Journalism at Northwestern University, we are currently working with customers (in both media and business), generating content from public and proprietary data sources.

We are generating stories in the arenas of sports, finance, real estate, and politics. We are also working with companies to transform business data into client reports, franchise statements, and customer communication. In effect, we are giving a voice to the insights that can be found ...

Get Best of TOC, 3rd Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.