audience, data visualization, infographic, Interactivity, virtual reality

Placing the user within the story: 3 good approaches

One of the oldest and most important unwritten rule says that you shouldn’t rely on words to tell your story.

Jerry Jenkins defines telling as simply informing your reader of information, rather than allowing him to deduce anything (showing).

In an information-saturated age, facts and figures don’t stick in our minds and the audience demands stories (Morgan, 2014).

Immersive reality, or interactive visualisations, amongst other technologies, facilitate media and companies to go beyond telling or showing and are placing the audience within the story.

An easy topic to apply these techniques are natural disasters. Audiences can hardly place themselves into the affected area or respond quickly to these dangers, and smartphones can help in this learning.

Below three good approaches:

1. The NY Times uses Augmented Reality to recreate the damage from a fire tornado 

Augmented Reality provides a direct-to-user hands on experience of the subject matter within the environment of interest (Haynes, Lange and Hehl-Lange, 2015).

The New York Times travelled to Redding and examined the damaged city,  where the winds and flames left almost unrecognisable areas. This footage was completed with interviews from people who experienced the tornado and could add a human touch to the article.

Below, a quick overview of this immersive experience, which gives the opportunity to the audience to feel and recreate some of the places that were affected:

2. ‘Disaster Scope’ app helps students in Japan to experience Virtual Floods

Smartphones are an easy and feasible medium through which to educate the public (Haynes, Lange and Hehl-Lange, 2015).

This smartphone-application has been developed by Tomoki Itamiya, Ph.D. in Media and Governance to simulate natural disasters such as floods.

By using the app on Google Cardboard, students can feel inundations, debris and smoke in the actual scenery; as well as to sense the height from the ground and recognise surrounding objects:

3. The Weather Channel uses interactive infographics to get a sense of the Hurricane Florence

Kaye and Quinn write (2010:1) that advances in technology “have enabled journalism to flourish in remarkable ways – from instant global distribution to community participation and more powerful storytelling techniques.”

While recurring to new technologies will get a ‘wowable’ attitude from the audience, graphic representations are still key when visualising topics such as hurricanes or other natural disasters.

The Weather Channel uses an infographic that is not only completely badass technologically and visually, but conveys a key message clearly:


Have you got more examples? Let me know in the comments or at @mcrosasb!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s