The Data of Death

Data scientists are a particular breed of people, able to construe patterns and learnings from endless streams of seemingly random data (or creating the elaborate software programs that do that work for them).

Therefore it’s not surprising that it is a data scientist—Lux Narayan, the CEO of a branded-content analysis service—who was able to suss out meaning from thousands of unrelated New York Times obituaries.


Lux admits his fascination with obituaries and what they have to teach us started at his own breakfast table, each and every morning, as he was introduced to notable and not-so-notable people who had merited coverage in the paper.

Intrigued as to what the common threads were that would lead to such posthumous glory, he applied analysis to 2,000 obituaries from 2015 and 2016, creating word clouds to discover commonalities.

Click here to watch his brief TED talk on the project—and for his insights on what he learned not only about death, but how to live life.