Kris Hammond

Kristian Hammond, Professor was one of the panelists for the 2014 Design:Chicago event on April 3 at the James Allen Center’s McCormick Auditorium, which focused on the theme of “Designers as Intra/Entrepreneurs.”

Excerted from an Monday, April 7, 2014 article published by McCormick, titled, "Panelists Discuss Intra/Entrepreneurship at Design:Chicago"

Now in its seventh year, Design:Chicago brings together the Northwestern community, the public, and top designers and executives from the professional world to discuss topics and challenges in design.

Products are not the only things that can benefit from good design. Prof. Hammond, said communication should be approached as a design problem.

Prof. Hammond is the cofounder and chief scientist of Narrative Science, a company that uses design to turn data into stories and insights. Narrative Science’s product Quill looks at data and transforms it into more understandable narrative descriptions.


The problem with data, he said, is that few people can look at it and easily make sense of the numbers. Many companies now create visualizations to help individuals more easily understand data. However, even with visualizations, people are still forced to work hard to mine the underlying story.

“Quill takes the data and gives not a story of the data, but a story of world with data as a source of the truth,” Hammond said.

While Narrative Science is already serving many business clients to help them better understand financial reports, Hammond sees a more powerful use for Quill by applying it to individuals. One example is using Quill to help students make sense of standardized test results.

“We can explain what they need to study and what they need to do,” Hammond said. “We can put together a personalized document for everyone in the world—documents that a human being will never be able to build.”

Watch a video of Prof. Hammond presenting his research on artificial intelligence, machine-generated content, and context-driven information systems at 2014 Design:Chicago: