No matter if you are a CTO, Marketing Manager or Data Analyst, these are the books you want to add to your reading list. A smart selection with 3 brilliant books on data and analyses. Good and highly entertaining reads, for both the layman and the data pro.
The signal and the noise - Nate Silver
The versatile and multi talented Nate Silver has written the must read for everyone who is either interested in data, comes across professional predictions at the office (no matter if it is about the stock market, housing market or baseball figures next to the coffee machine) or is just up for a good read.
Largely based on Bayes’ theorem Nate Silver provides a method that will get you to understand and bridge “the gap between what you know, what you think you know and what you should know”. Basically the Signal And The Noise is about thinking probabilistically: especially using conditional probability (the probability A is true if B has happened).
In a modest way, with appealing examples Silver provides a good mental instrument to identify false prophets and charlatans, be it in the form of optimistic sales figures in the boardroom or overconfident political pundits on TV. After reading this book, you won’t be a statistics or forecasting expert, but you can expose the next person that tries to, willingly or unwillingly, impress or lie to you with data- and statistical powerplay.
Super Crunchers: How anything can be predicted -Ian Ayres
Yale professor Ian Ayres definitely puts in a word for the use of statistics in every day (business) life. The common thread throughout Ayres’ story is the question of using ‘Experts vs. Equations’.
From appealing subjects as rating wine (and predicting future value), via application in baseball and marketing, Super Crunchers also addresses more weighty subjects with topics concerning governmental decision-making and medicine. But where Ayres can point out some nice examples regarding fighting crime and unemployment with data, he should cut physicians some slack when he touches the subject of fact-(evidence) based medicine. Yes, the revolution of super crunching will drastically change medicine, and yes expertise and intuition will make way for data and predictive models, Ayres himself is making a little drama comparing today’s doctors to the House character..
However, using easy to understand –and sometimes witty - examples Super Crunchers breaks a lance for fact- and data based decision-making. The future of expertise and intuition might lie in basic statistics. You don’t have to be a data expert or professional to understand how basic rules of thumb will help you make better choices every day.
The Information: a history, a Theory, a Flood - James Gleick
Let’s be honest, if you don’t already have some enthusiasm for data or information theory or got buzzed by the Big data hype, you are probably not going to read James Gleick’s 400+ paged ‘The Information’.
And that is a shame.
James Gleick has written the chronicle on information. Showing how information became the fuel of the modern society and economy.
With beautiful examples from African drums (a.k.a tam-tam or talking drums: A sophisticated communication system that actually has the information in the context), early alphabets, secret code, Gutenberg’s printing press, to DNA and quantum physics, Gleick enlightens us with other ways of creating, storing and sharing information and therefore communication in general. Our species' story is one about information as well. We have come a long way since we left the savannahs. Gleick tells this story in a fascinating way. You don’t have to be a data scientist or CTO to be intrigued.
The Information puts things in perspective on what information was, is and where it is going. Not only on information and your mistaken beliefs about it, but more important on its impact on society and how it’s going to change our world in the age of information explosion.