Announcing “The Data Loom”

When I wrote my most recent book, Big Data, Big Dupe, in early 2018, I thought it might be my last. As it turns out, I was mistaken. Mid-way through 2018, I became concerned enough about a particular problem to write another book, titled The Data Loom: Weaving Understanding by Thinking Critically and Scientifically with Data.

To give you an idea of its contents, here’s the text that will appear on the book’s back cover:

Contrary to popular myth, we do not yet live in the “Information Age.” At best, we live the “Data Age,” obsessed with the production, collection, storage, dissemination, and monetization of digital data. But data, in and of itself, isn’t valuable. Data only becomes valuable when we make sense of it.

We rely on “information professionals” to help us understand data, but most fail in their efforts. Why? Not because they lack intelligence or tools, but mostly because they lack the necessary skills. Most information professionals have been trained primarily in the use of data analysis tools (Tableau, PowerBI, Qlik, SAS, Excel, R, etc.), but even the best tools are only useful in the hands of skilled individuals. Anyone can pick up a hammer and pound a nail, but only skilled carpenters can use a hammer to build a reliable structure. Making sense of data is skilled work, and developing those skills requires study and practice.

Weaving data into understanding involves several distinct but complementary thinking skills. Foremost among them are critical thinking and scientific thinking. Until information professionals develop these capabilities, we will remain in the dark ages of data.

This book is for information professionals, especially those who have been thrust into this important work without having a chance to develop these foundational skills. If you’re an information professional and have never been trained to think critically and scientifically with data, this book will get you started. Once on this path, you’ll be able to help usher in an Information Age worthy of the name.

And here’s an outline of the book’s contents:

Chapter 1 – Construct a Loom

Data sensemaking—the ability to weave data into understanding—requires a spectrum of skills. Critical thinking and scientific thinking are foremost among them.

Chapter 2 – Think Critically

When we think critically, we apply logic and avoid cognitive biases.

Chapter 3 – Think Scientifically

When we think scientifically, we apply the scientific method.

Chapter 4 – Question the Data

Thinking critically and scientifically leads us to ask essential questions about data to improve the reliability of our findings.

Chapter 5 – Measure Wisely

Metrics can be powerful, but we often measure the wrong things, measure the right things ineffectively, and use measurements in harmful ways.

Chapter 6 – Develop Good Thinking Habits

In addition to critical thinking and scientific thinking, data sensemaking is also enriched by developing good thinking habits.

Chapter 7 – Develop a Data-Sensemaking Culture

Effective data sensemaking is undermined by most organizational cultures. We must promote the cultural changes that are needed to embrace critical and scientific thinking with data.

Epilogue – Embrace the Opportunity

The Data Loom is scheduled for publication in May by Analytics Press.

8 Comments on “Announcing “The Data Loom””


By Alberto Cairo. January 15th, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Great news, Steve. Congratulations. I am skeptical you will truly ever retire.

By Catalin. January 15th, 2019 at 3:43 pm

My RSS did not picked up this piece of news but as i was going from article to article I’ve noticed a new post dated 2019 and I gladly find out about this upcoming book. Very much looking forward for it (and I hope you will never retire!!) 🙂

By Bogdan. January 30th, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Great news, indeed! Looking forward to reading this. Thank you for your work, Steve!

By Cynthia Oakley. February 7th, 2019 at 10:38 pm

I’m looking forward to reading this, and recommending it to my data analyst colleagues. To know that it’s written by my favorite author in this space is a huge bonus. I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few years about how we have an ethical responsibility to ask hard questions of not only our data, but also our treatment of that data. Yet, I see too few people actually doing this. If you’re doing a test read for early feedback, I’d love to participate.

By Enrico Bertini. February 14th, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Congrats Stephen! Very much looking forward to reading it.

By Mohit Chawla. February 22nd, 2019 at 1:19 pm

This is great, eagerly waiting for the release. Thanks Steve.

By Jonathon Carrell. February 24th, 2019 at 4:18 pm

Glad to see we’ll have another treatise from Steve.

By stephenfew. March 5th, 2019 at 5:52 pm

“The Data Loom” is now available for pre-order from Amazon.com.

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