There are stories hidden in data

If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. Rudyard Kipling

I recently read this quote from Kipling and it got me thinking. There are some deep insights in this statement.

Before recorded history, we had the oral tradition. Knowledge was transferred from generation to generation through stories spoken or sung out loud. These stories were deemed important enough that people would take valuable time out of their day to share stories with each other.

Some of these stories were written down and now we can read about them. The Epic of Gilgamesh, for example, is a story about 4 millennia old.

Today we have plenty of recorded history. Far more than ever before. How much exactly?

Approximately 100 times the Library of Congress worth of data gets created and uploaded to the Internet every day.

If that’s difficult to visualize, try this one:

Every 2 days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.

That last quote is famously from Google’s Eric Schmidt and is 15 years old.

However you quantify it, we generate a staggering amount of data daily. But not all of that data is worth talking about. If data is plentiful like sand on the beach, stories worth telling are like the occasional beautiful shell poking through the sand.

Good stories can have powerful effects. In the literary world, many authors make a living telling stories. In the world of business, the right kind of story can help a company sell more products and services, reduce costs, and be more profitable.

Organizations today have the potential to uncover these “beautiful shells” poking through the sand dunes of data. Large companies have been more vocal about this and offer some interesting examples.

Netflix uses its vast amount of data collected on viewing habits of its customers to decide what original content to invest in and has been remarkably successful at this. Tesla takes advantage of vehicle telemetry to anticipate and correct manufacturing and software defects over-the-air before customers even notice anything wrong, avoiding expensive recalls and PR nightmares that can affect other car manufacturers.

What opportunities in data around you do you see to create stories with positive impact on your personal life or on your workplace?

Hit reply and let me know

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