storytelling angie wing

In scientific storytelling there is characters, plots and settings just like any other kind of creative storytelling. All of these points have to be interesting and engaging with audiences to be considered “good.” There is a distinction between information visualization, which is simply laying down the data in a visual setting, and scientific storytelling. There are different challenges when you are facing a more complex system with a broader audience than the actual scientists. Storytelling is a way to communicate to the general public, reaching into episodic memory to educate. At NASA’s visual center, they use Hollywood programs and techniques to convey their new discoveries. Artists and scientists collaborate together to make a story that has all the elements of a creative story. They are using perspective, imagery, color, layout, typography, language and characters. These are all things that artists, photographers, comic artists, filmmakers and designers are trained in.

All these new possibilities to visualize science is great for museums as they are the best and possess the most verity in terms of display capabilities.  But there are problems that can arise out what seems like a great solution. There are many just pretty pictures and designs that cause the general public to misinterpret scientific phenomena. The goal for meusums and most scientist is to explain their data in such a way that there is no need for an advance background in science. In trying to achieve this goal, they understand their own data in new ways, making new discoveries along the way.

Through similar storytelling methods, designers need to know when a plot climax or a character change has happened, and be able to put emphasis on this for better understanding. But this also raises the question of audience engagement. Would it be better to allow the audience to directly interact with the data so that they are a part of the expirence? This would be similar to an actor breaking away from the stage and acting in the aisles, making a more personal experience for the viewer.


The second paper (that I read) discusses science directly with storytelling. It begins by talking about how the definition of science is not very clear with the general population and specially with the religious community it is not clear or a favorite subject to discuss. But the definition that they use to explain science as the art of creating stories based on observations of the natural world may seem surprising since the typical, over-used words like hypothesis are not being used.

So in talking about science as a mode of storytelling, it analyzes how science can fit into the literary section. Just like the Greeks came up the stories about how the sun sets and rises, our laws and hypothesis can just be the stories of our time. In the future there might be enough expectations and other observations that the law of gravity in fiction section.

Science rules and common assumptions are then broken down to put it in a differenct context—it being simply a type of human storytelling. I t kind of rips the validity and factual nature of science a part. It takes science off of its “Truth” pedestal and puts in down into creative story telling realm. Are people ok with this opinion? Are scientific visualizations just the illustrations in today’s picture books? 


One thought on “storytelling angie wing

  1. Yeah, I’m okay with this opinion. I think it’s more honest. People are, after all, prone to delusion, fallacy, and all manner of errant thinking. After all, just a couple of millennia ago people knew the earth was flat 😉

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