Review: Raw Data Is an Oxymoron
Three out of five stars for this book is probably the best irony that can justify reading it for, by being a collection of essays, some clearly deserve the five stars while some would be rated much lower. By bringing this qualitative approach to the understanding of something as quantitative as data, Lisa Gitelman forces us to think beyond the data average that distorts the more complicated reality and, that in itself, is reason enough to pick up and start reading.
As a quantitative-minded scientist, reading such a qualitative text has constantly had me on the verge of fascination and boredom. Clearly there’s much variation across chapters and while some are among the best sleep-inducer I’ve tried in a long time, others are fascinating historic accounts, like the story about abolitionists and data from newspapers, or just plain fun, like the one about eclipses and the distance to the moon. Whichever is your take, this book is a good collection of places where to start thinking about one of the most present aspects of the current world.