Narrative versus factWe use words to tell stories. Words are a very poor medium for presenting facts, especially numbers. Our writing should present analysis, with facts presented as tables. The following (slightly edited) abstract of an academic study explains the distinction:
Information is data that has been given meaning through interpretation by way of relational connection and pragmatic context.
Knowledge is information that has been cognitively processed and integrated into an existing human knowledge structure. Knowledge is dynamic. … The most important difference between information and knowledge is that information is outside the brain (sometimes called knowledge in the world) and knowledge is inside.
Knowledge and Information Visualization, edited by Sigmar-Olaf Tergan, Tanja Keller
We do not sell data. But by writing reports that simply present facts, we are doing precisely that, and no more. Worse, we are doing it in the most awkward and difficult way possible. Our job is to turn our data into our customers’ knowledge.