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7 Books for a Happy Christmas Data

Around about this time every year The Information Lab Ireland asks our colleagues across Ireland, the UK and Europe to pitch in with their favourite books on Data and Data Visualisation for, our now, annual list. This year’s response has been speedy and so we are delighted to be able to provide you with some guidance in plenty of time for that all important shopping order.

Don’t be afraid to take inspiration for our 2017 & 2018 lists and if you have any suggestions, please fell free to get in touch.

We are extremely grateful to those who contributed and we would like to give a special shout out to Andre de Vries, Dirk Stroebel, Andy Kriebel and Rob Carroll for their suggestions and support.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

We are slightly appalled at ourselves for not having this on either the 2017 or 2018 hence it goes in straight at the top of this year’s Yuletide pile. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game was published in 2003, about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane and focuses on the team’s analytical, evidence-based, sabermetric approach to assembling a competitive baseball team despite their small budget. 

“It’s a story of a team that simply can’t compete with the big budgets and have to be smarter,” says  The Information Lab Ireland’s Rob Carroll. “They are the first team to really go after analytics for an edge, and in many cases they used stuff that was in the public domain. But they had a strategy and went all in.There was buy in from the top.”


Makeover Monday by Andy Kriebel & Eva Murray

There are few people as committed to the message of Tableau and Data Visualization as Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray. Since 2016 (though Andy is now on sabbatical) they have given over their Mondays to the Tableau community and guiding, critiqing and encouraging contributors every step of the way. Many people owe their start in Data Visualization to them and you can now pass their guidance and wisdom onto others in book form.  #MakeoverMonday explores different perspectives and approaches to creating effective visualizations while offering inspiration and a giant dose of perspective for those who communicate data. This is one of those cornerstone books that everyone involved in DataViz needs.


Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

Christmas Books for Data lovers

Most offices are five degrees too cold for women, because the formula to determine their temperature was developed in the 1960s and based on the metabolic resting rate of a 40-year-old, 70kg man.

Women in the UK are 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed following a heart attack because heart failure trials generally use male participants.

Cars are designed around the body of a “Reference Man”, so although men are more likely to crash, women involved in collisions are nearly 50% more likely to be seriously hurt.

Mobile phones are designed for male hands, speech recognition devices are, for the most part, trained using male voices. The list goes on and it is a real eye-opener, particularly for people charged with collecting data in a world that is being increasingly shaped by data.


How Charts Lie by Alberto Cairo

Having a Christmas list without Alberto Cairo would be a bit like not asking Santa to come to your house. Last year’s list included his The Truthful Art so this year Cairo has flipped it round and wants to talk about lies, specifically How Charts Lie

In short, the Spaniard believes that we need to be more data literate. In a world of misinformation and dodgy graphs, educating people on what it is they are really looking at when they look at data is becoming more important.

As usual Cairo avoids faffing about and gets straight to the point. On page one, he tells us that “numbers are very persuasive, and so are charts, because we associate them with science and reason. Numbers and charts look and feel objective…and as a consequence seductive and convincing.”

How Charts Lie asks you to look at charts and ask more questions of them rather than accepting what the author and/or presenter wants you to see.


Info We Trust by RJ Andrews

Award-winning data storyteller RJ Andrews is an author and founder of Info We Trust. He helps organizations all over the world solve information problems.

Prior to concentrating on data visualization, he worked for NASA, the National Science Foundation, and Raytheon. He holds a plethora of qualifications and to be honest he is really a rather interesting guy. 

In Info We Trust, RJ wants to “show you how to make information people can believe in”. Hisa dedication to this work screams off the page. There are hundreds of hand drawn illustrations across the book and the style makes it very accessible and easy to understand.

Avoiding Data Pitfalls by Ben Jones

Ben is an instructor of data visualization theory at University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education. He has worked in Data Visualization for over a decade. In that time, he has made mistakes and now he wants you to avoid them. Each chapter gives examples of pitfalls and anecdotes from a colourful career in DataViz and dashboards. Easy to read, fun and informative this is a potential life-saver.  You can find his vizzes and tutorials at DataRemixed.


The Data Science Handbook: Advice and Insights from 25 Amazing Data Scientists by Carl Shan, William Chen, Henry Wang, and Max Song

This tome isn’t a guide to building great dashboards or a gallery of charts. Instead The Data Science Handbook sits down with leading data scientists and asks them how they do what they do so well.

There are interviews with team leads at prominent companies, those creating their own programs as well as the former US Chief Data Officer. They offer unique insights into the world of data as well as offering advice on how to develop a career in the field. They even throw in a few mistakes they have made along the way.

Who/What is…?

The Information Lab Ireland

The Information Lab (“TIL”) is a Gold resale partner of Tableau and Alteryx and offers related consulting and training across seven territories in Europe. TIL has offices in Ireland, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Clients include Coca-Cola, Close Bros Bank, PepsiCo, Deloitte, UBS, Solar Turbines & Boston Consulting Group. The Information Lab has worked with Close Brothers Bank to support their use of Alteryx for compliance with IFRS 9.

The Information Lab Ireland is at the forefront of creating a data-driven culture in Ireland. As part of its vision, The Information Lab Ireland regularly hosts free events throughout the country to show how being data-driven can improve decision making and lead to a better understanding of the world around us.

For more on these events please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter


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