Giving a voice to data: Larry Birnbaum @ ISOJ


Birnbaum.Bots, Drones, etc.: New Tools for Journalism. ISOJ 2014.
Larry Birnbaum, professor of computer science and journalism at Northwestern University, at the 2014 ISOJ on the UT-Austin campus, Apr. 4, 2014. (Lauren Schneider/Knight Center)

Larry Birnbaum, founder and chief scientific advisor at Narrative Science, said their narrative analytic tool makes data real. And during the 15th International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ) in Austin, Texas, he talked about what particular data matters the most in that process.

Quill, Narrative Science’s central product, began as a software project at Northwestern University to recap baseball games and evolved into the cornerstone of a start up that covers data-driven news automatically. The tool uses its algorithm to generate stories that makes the data real, understandable and meaningful.

Quill turns data into stories for both journalism and company-analyzing purposes.

“Data do not speak for themselves,” Birnbaum said, “data themselves are not in fact a story.”

Quill covers data in sports, business, medicine, civic data, unstructured data, education and financial news. Narrative Science defines Quill as an artificial intelligence platform that gives an insightful voice to ideas from data and going beyond those numbers.

“You can show people a chart of data and graph or—a story of what they are seeing written in a way that people understand,” Brinbaum said.

Larry Birnbaum is a professor of journalism, electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern University. He is a founder of the Knight Lab, an interdisciplinary center for innovation in news and media technology, as well as co-director of the intelligent Information Laboratory at the university.

ISOJ 2014: Larry Birnbaum, from Knight Center on Vimeo.