30 minutes | Dec 18th 2019

Data Literacy with Ben Jones

We talk with Ben Jones, CEO of Data Literacy, who's on a mission to help everyone understand the language of data. He goes over some common data pitfalls, learning strategies, and unique stories about both epic failures and great successes using data in the real world. Ginette Methot: I’m Ginette, Curtis Seare: and I’m Curtis, Ginette: and you are listening to Data Crunch, Curtis: a podcast about how applied data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are changing the world. Ginette: Data Crunch is produced by the Data Crunch Corporation, an analytics training and consulting company. It’s becoming increasingly important in our world to be data literate and to understand the basics of AI and machine learning, and Brilliant.org is a great place to dig deeper into this and related topics. Their classes help you understand algorithms, machine learning concepts, computer science basics, and many other important concepts in data science and machine learning. The nice thing about Brilliant.org is that you can learn in bite-sized pieces at your own pace. Their courses have storytelling, code-writing, and interactive challenges, which makes them entertaining, challenging, and educational. Sign up for free and start learning by going to Brilliant.org/DataCrunch, and also the first 200 people that go to that link will get 20% off the annual premium subscription. Curtis: Ben Jones is here with me on the podcast today. This is a couple months coming. Excited to have him on the show. He's well known in the data visualization community, he's done a lot of great work there. Uh, used to work for Tableau. Now he's off doing his own thing, has a company called Data Literacy, which is interesting. We're going to dig into that and also has a new book out called Avoiding Data Pitfalls. So all of this is really great stuff and we're happy to have you here, Ben. Before we get going, just give yourself a brief introduction for anyone who may not know you and we can go from there. Ben: Yeah, great. Thanks Curtis. You mentioned some of the highlights there. I uh, worked for Tableau for about seven years running the Tableau public platform, uh, in which time I wrote a book called Communicating Data with Tableau. And the fun thing was for me that launched kind of a teaching, um, mini side gig for me at the University of Washington, which really made me fall in love with this idea of just helping people get excited about working with data. Having that light bulb moment where they feel like they've got what it takes. And so that's what caused me to really want to lead Tableau and launch my own company Data Literacy at dataliteracy.com which is where I help people, you know, as I say, learn the language of data, right? Whether that's reading charts and graphs, whether that's exploring data and communicating it to other people through training programs to the public as well as working one on one with clients and such. So it's been a been an exciting year doing that. Also, other things about me, I live here in Seattle, I love it up here and go hiking and backpacking when I can and have three teenage boys all in high school. So that keeps me busy too. And it's been a fun week for me getting this book out and seeing it's a start to ship and seeing people get it. Curtis: Let's talk a little bit about that because the book, it sounds super interesting, right? Avoiding Data Pitfalls, and there are a lot of pitfalls that people fall into. So I'm curious what you're seeing, why you decided to write the book, how difficult of a process it was and then some of the insights that you have in there as well. Ben: Yeah, so I feel like the tools that are out there now are so powerful and way more so than when I was going to school in the 90s, and it's amazing what you can do with those tools. And I think also it's amazing that it's amazing how easy it is to mislead yourself. And so I started realizing that that's sometim...
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