As 2021 pulls away from the station, tickets punched, destination unknown, we continue to time travel along. We take turns gazing optimistically forward or stealing sad glances back, and together we forever ride the future train. I have packed some items to help me navigate 2021:
2021 Future Packing List:
Item Number 1: The book “Counting: How We Use Numbers to Decide What Matters”, by Deborah Stone. Published on Liveright Publishing Corporation in 2020, this is a fun read on a timely topic. Stone clearly illustrates that numbers are a storytelling device and that people are storytellers. Using several current examples, she writes about people with real insight. The book explains the mystical powers numbers add to any human angle and why we love to believe in the myths of the data-based “truth”. The opening page reads – “To count” verb: to tally, to add up, to total, to recite numerals in ascending order. “ To count” verb: to matter, to be considered, to be included, to have importance.
A thoroughly enjoyable read that I am keeping on hand for the next few years just as a reminder…
ItemNumber 2: The book “ The Art of Doing Science and Engineering – Learning to Learn, by Richard W. Hamming. The Stripe Press 2020 edition is a beautiful copy. It is the 1996 version in fancy clothes, but it couldn’t be a better time for the information contained inside. Based on the course that Hamming taught at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Ca. and from which he retired in 1997 shortly after its publication, The Art of Doing Science and Engineering is truly a must-read. Since Hamming is a mastermind mathematician who worked on the Manhattan Project and was one of the people who invented computer coding, one might think that this book would be dry and difficult. On the contrary, it’s dynamic. Giving funny and crazy examples from his own life, readers get to be vicarious mathematicians – something I never thought I would be able to do, not to mention, something I never even knew I wanted to do until reading this. The heavier math calculations were lost on me, but the style of creative/productive thinking the book lays out is extremely clear. I trust Richard Hamming and I trust this book! Highlights include how he manages to make diligently checking and rechecking data exciting and the fact that I now have a truly friendly feeling towards computers. The book asks questions and shows how to look for new possibilities. My favorite book of 2020 for sure. I would have loved to take this class. All good professors should make books from their best courses just to advance the field of education. Hopefully, many teachers will pick up a copy of this one.
Item Number 3: The book “The History of Information Graphics, by Sandra Rendgen, Ed. Julius Wiedeman. This large scale Taschen edition is the compilation of what you wished you had been doing for the last year – looking at infographics of data from the beginning of data visualization up through around 1920. Of course, it’s not all the data visualization, but a choice selection of hundreds of pieces curated to bring complete visual joy and cultural interest. A combination of maps, graphs, flow charts, and timelines, this book yields hours of interesting visual information. Despite choking on the flood of contemporary data I receive on a seemingly minute by minute basis here in the 2020s – I can’t seem to stop looking at the glorious old data within its covers! This time travel machine to the past is one you won’t mind taking a ride on.
Item Number 4: A towel (I couldn’t resist)
That’s all I have packed. With this stuff, additional resources gleaned from the ScienceWorks Science Advisory Board, and lots of luck, I hope to be able to navigate the flood of information that will be and already is the world of 2021. What have you packed for your trip into the future?