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Subjectivity in Personal Visual Storytelling

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We explore the importance of subjectivity in personal data-driven storytelling. The enormous amount of data people now collect about themselves is creating new opportunities for data- rich storytelling, not just for journalists, but also for individuals. However, unlike data- journalism, everyday personal narratives are often subjective and storytellers omit, invent, or embellish details in order to craft engaging stories or communicate a perspective. As new tools allow us to leverage data to create personal stories, can they still support expressing subjectivity? We discuss the role of subjectivity in data collection, processing and representation. Based on these reflections, we suggest potential benefits to introducing subjectivity in personal visual storytelling. We illustrate a spectrum of increasingly subjective visual storytelling methods – from purely algorithmic mappings, to simple customization, to free-form sketching – using examples of personal narrative visualizations from our own work and that of other visualization designers.