TECH TALK: Good Books: Beautiful Evidence and More Than You Know

Beautiful Evidence

I have been a fan of Tufte ever since I heard a presentation of his more than 15 years ago in the US. Beautiful Evidence is his latest book. Tuftes forte is information visualisation. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Tufte: Tufte’s work is important in such fields as information design and visual literacy, which deal with the visual communication of information. He coined the term chartjunk to refer to useless, non-informative, or information-obscuring elements of information displays. Tufte’s work argues strongly against the inclusion of any decoration in visual presentations of information and claims that ink should only be used to convey significant data and aid its interpretation.

The focus in this book is on evidence presentation. As Tufte writes in the introduction: [The book] is about how seeing turns into showing, how empirical observations turn into explanations and evidence, suggests new designs, and provides analytical tools for assessing the credibility of evidence presentations.

Tuftes books are a visual delight when it comes to the photos and illustrations with the accompanying analysis. This book is no different. My favourite section in the book is the discussion about sparklines intense, simple, word-sized graphics. Sparklines can be especially useful for displaying data on mobiles.

More Than You Know

Michael Mauboussin is chief investment strategist at Legg Mason Capital. I was introduced to his writings by Chetan Parikh, Abhay Bhagat and Yuvaraj Galada. His essays are very thought-provoking. His book More Than You Know is a collection of his essays written over the past few years.

Here is what Publishers Weekly has to say [via]:

Mauboussin is not your average Wall Street equity analyst, writing investment recommendations whose topical interest wanes a few days after the report is issued. His strategy reports begin with scientific findings from diverse fields, then show why an investor should care. This book is a collection of 30 short reports, revised and updated, covering animal behavior (“Guppy Love: The Role of Imitation in Markets”), psychology (“Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”), philosophy of science (“The Janitor’s Dream: Why Listening to Individuals Can be Hazardous to Your Wealth”) and other fields. Each essay describes a fascinating scientific finding, then develops and applies it to personal investing. “Survival of the Fittest,” for example, begins by discussing how Tiger Woods improved his golf swing, introduces the concept of fitness landscapes from evolutionary biology, then explains why investors in commodity-producing companies should like strong centralized management, while technology-stock buyers should prefer flexible organizations with lots of disruptive new ideas. The book is breezy and well written, but not dumbed down, and provides extensive references. It can be read for entertainment as popular science or to broaden your investment thinking.

You can find some of Mauboussins recent essays here.

TECH TALK Good Books

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.