Making Data Mean More Through Storytelling

In this TEDx talk, Ben Wellington discusses how to use data to tell stories. In fact, he draws on some key lessons from fields well outside computer science and data analysis to make his observations about New York City fascinating. Never has a fire hydrant been so interesting as in this talk!

Ben Wellington is a computer scientist and data analyst whose blog, I Quant NY, uses New York City open data to tell stories about everything from parking ticket geography to finding the sweet spot in MetroCard pricing. His articles have gone viral and, in some cases, led to policy changes. Wellington teaches a course on NYC open data at the Pratt Institute and is a contributor to Forbes and other publications.

Though overused phrases like “effect social change” and “change the world” might ignite the urge to run the other way, Wellington’s talk about data’s transformative powers is refreshing. In one instance, he recounts how the data he collected from New York City’s open data project allowed him to find a parking spot that had generated over $55,000 in parking tickets because of a disagreement between the NYPD and the Department of Transportation. His lecture is a miniature master class in how to tell a story out of number crunching. Given the importance of storytelling to marketing, it’s a short hop from Wellington’s data tales to your company’s sales possibilities.

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