Maps Tell Important Stories

October 3, 2018 by Trish Sissons
Read in 3 Minutes



I once had a professor - the esteemed communications and social change researcher, Dr. Martin Laba - who taught me what is potentially the most important thing I learned in university, and I think it’s something we all know intuitively on some level.

No matter the culture or context, storytelling is the key to human connection. Humans everywhere connect, communicate, empathize, and advance through stories.

I’ve always believed in the power of storytelling, but what wasn’t obvious to me at the time was how these stories are ‘told.’ Hearing about the power of connection in storytelling made sense to me in terms of verbal and written communication, but it wasn’t until I joined the Jibestream team that I was exposed to the ways maps tell stories.

That’s why I was excited to sit down with Kara Wilson Oliver to talk with her about maps, the stories they tell, and why those stories matter. We discussed how we frame our business here at Jibestream, from journeys with our partners and clients, to our product development roadmaps, in terms of stories. Within our team stand-ups and across our slack channels, our colleagues are sharing stories related to maps. As Kara put it in our conversation, “we really like stories and we really like maps.”

From the Happiness Level by Country to the Most Photographed Places on Earth, it is increasingly apparent that when expressed on a map, data tells a much more compelling story than when it’s bound up in the cells of a spreadsheet. At the heart of it, data visualizations matter because they can tell stories.

It isn’t until we see information expressed as a story that we truly comprehend the data, build empathy for what it’s trying to communicate and are spurred to action. Check out my conversation with Kara to see map storytelling in action, learn about real-world applications of maps spurring social and business change, and discover what she thinks is the next chapter of the cartographical narrative.


Trish is the Digital Marketing Manager at Inpixon. When she’s not digging into all things digital, you’ll find her playing in the great outdoors, running her book club, crafting, or boarding a plane heading somewhere sunny.