During a recent review of old reading notes I came across a visualization that I adored at the time, have gotten a lot of personal mileage out of, and had let slip away — an infographic by David McCandless on the phases between data and knowledge, and the corresponding art, processes, and metaphors that go with them [below].

David McCandless; InformationIsBeautiful.Net

This diagram reminded me of an ill-fated crusade I waged few years back — to get my organization and coworkers on the same page about the boundaries between data, information, and knowledge. This particular nugget was part of a light-weight data literacy…


To date we’ve profiled 10 hard-working folks using their skills and time to do good things with data. Folks with 20+ years experience and folks making the transition into the space. Folks with bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and folks with PhDs in political science. Folks with… ok, I think you get it.

So what have we learned from our numerically limited but mighty first cohort?

Community is an integral part of the work — Many we’ve spoken with are one of the few, if not only, people plying their trade at their organization. This work can be isolating. Pair that…


One of the topics we cover with interviewees is their pathway to data work. There are the more linear & understood roads — math-centric 4-year STEM programs, data-specific Masters and PhD programs, bootcamps, etc.. These get the ball rolling for folks, including myself, and things go from there. The first job begets the skill-building begets the credibility in the field and so on.

In pursuing people’s stories, I assumed there would be odd and circuitous routes to the work — in my wildest dreams a magician turned data architect — but there’s another pathway I’ve observed more than I had…


If you ever work with data for a mission-driven organization you will have to make a specific choice relatively early in your tenure. You will come to realize that the way things are do not align with what you were taught (if you’re coming straight from an academic program), or how things were at your prior gig (if you’re coming from the commercial sector). You’ll realize things are messy (very messy, likely messier than you thought they’d be), you’re spending a shockingly small amount of your time doing what you believe to be “analysis”, you struggle to get on the…


Because we want the 2020’s to be as productive as possible for everybody working to solve problems with data, not just those with the infrastructure and resources of larger commercial enterprises.

There is progress in the world of mission-driven data, to be certain — falling technology costs, a burgeoning and energized data for good movement, improved open source resources, expanding workforce and education options, to name a few. However, there exist major hurdles that make work in the space a uniquely Sisyphean task. …

Analysts of America

Profiles from the human side of the data revolution. https://analystsofamerica.org/

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