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Kernighan, B.: Millions, Billions, Zillions: Defending Yourself in a World of Too Many Numbers (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
Numbers are often intimidating, confusing, and even deliberately deceptive—especially when they are really big. The media loves to report on millions, billions, and trillions, but frequently makes basic mistakes or presents such numbers in misleading ways. And misunderstanding numbers can have serious consequences, since they can deceive us in many of our most important decisions, including how to vote, what to buy, and whether to make a financial investment. In this short, accessible, enlightening, and entertaining book, leading computer scientist Brian Kernighan teaches anyone—even diehard math-phobes—how to demystify the numbers that assault us every day.

With examples drawn from a rich variety of sources, including journalism, advertising, and politics, Kernighan demonstrates how numbers can mislead and misrepresent. In chapters covering big numbers, units, dimensions, and more, he lays bare everything from deceptive graphs to speciously precise numbers. And he shows how anyone—using a few basic ideas and lots of shortcuts—can easily learn to recognize common mistakes, determine whether numbers are credible, and make their own sensible estimates when needed.

Giving you the simple tools you need to avoid being fooled by dubious numbers, Millions, Billions, Zillions is an essential survival guide for a world drowning in big—and often bad—data.
book  numeracy  communication  education  via:zeynep  cognitive_science  mathematics  heuristics  dmce  teaching 
15 hours ago by rvenkat
Shapes and ladders — the art of abstraction and meaning making
Language and sense-making are fundamental to the success of design projects. They’re also the super-powers of an IA. Much of design relies on us making sense of ideas and situations for which it’s impossible to collect sense data. Design asks us to create new ideas. Innovation sees us combine ideas in ways to bring about something new. Making sense of all this ‘new stuff’ requires creativity, intention and effort in language and sense-making as well as the creativity for the ideas themselves. Without focus and effort in the sense-making it’s harder to share and shape the ideas collaboratively. You can do this through sketching, wireframes and prototypes — which are forms of abstraction in themselves — but you also often need language.

Hayakawa talked about a ‘ladder of abstraction’. The top of the ladder, up in the blue sky and clouds, is the most abstract. As you get closer to the bottom of the ladder, resting on the solid ground, you get more concrete. He used the example of a cow. At the bottom is an actual cow. We step up the ladder to the perception of the cow — in other words, the “experience” of the cow. Then further up the ladder we get to to a label that stands for the specific, perceived cow — in this case “Bessie”. Above the label of “Bessie” we have the word “cow” which is a more generic label. The language above this is even more general, “livestock”, “farm asset”, “asset” and “wealth”. At the top of the ladder are big, wibbly-wobbly, often metaphorical concepts that can be hard to grasp — you step down the ladder for the more concrete and specific.
abstraction  teamwork  communication  informationarchitecture  sharedlanguage  meaningmaking  dan_ramsden 
19 hours ago by oddhack

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