Breaking the Fourth Wall of Data Stories through Interaction

Yang Shi, Tian Gao, Xiaohan Jiao, Nan Cao

View presentation: 2022-10-20T19:00:00Z GMT-0600 Change your timezone on the schedule page
2022-10-20T19:00:00Z
Exemplar figure, described by caption below
We explored data stories that are combined with the narrative device, breaking the fourth wall (BTFW). We collected 58 high-quality data stories from a range of online sources and coded them from two perspectives, including the input of BTFW interaction provided by readers and the output of BTFW interaction generated by data stories to respond to the input. As a result, six design patterns were identified: (C1) Golden Hook, (C2) Kaleidoscope, (C3) Simulator, (C4) Spotlight, (C5) Magic Mirror, and (C6) Touchstone.

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Abstract

Interaction is increasingly integrating into data stories to support data exploration and explanation. Interaction can also be combined with the narrative device, breaking the fourth wall (BTFW), to build a deeper connection between readers and data stories. BTFW interaction directly addresses readers by requiring their input. Such user input is then integrated into the narrative or visuals of data stories to encourage readers to inspect the stories more closely. In this work, we explore the design patterns of BTFW interaction commonly used in data stories. Six design patterns were identified through the analysis of 58 high-quality data stories collected from a range of online sources. Specifically, the data stories were categorized using a coding framework, including the input of BTFW interaction provided by readers and the output of BTFW interaction generated by data stories to respond to the input. To explore the benefits as well as concerns of using BTFW interaction, we conducted a three-session user study including the reading, interview, and recall sessions. The results of our user study suggested that BTFW interaction has a positive impact on self-story connection, user engagement, and information recall. We also discussed design implications to address the possible negative effects on the interactivity-comprehensibility balance, information privacy, and the learning curve of interaction brought by BTFW interaction.