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FCW : June 15, 2016
When data deceives Chief data officers and data science teams are now fairly common across government — an acknowledgment that specialized skills are needed to wring actionable insights out of the big data most agencies are creating. But what about the small data we are exposed to on a daily basis? How easily can it deceive us? In “Everydata: The Misin- formation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Every Day,” John H. Johnson and Mike Gluck warn that this is actually quite likely. They contend that too many Americans are essen- tially innumerate, and expertise in technology and management don’t automatically translate into an understanding of the data concepts critical to pro- cessing the gigabytes of infor- mation that hit us every day. They note that the space shuttle Challenger disaster stemmed from a sampling error. True outlier data, on the other hand, can ruin an analysis if it is not identified. Further- more, predictive analytics are dangerous if the user doesn’t understand the factors that go into such forecasts, and the way numbers are charted and graphed can mislead, even if the underlying data is devoid of error and bias. Yet it doesn’t take a data sci- entist to avoid such misunder- standings. Johnson and Gluck write for the generalist and devote a chapter each to seven core concepts. Readers seeking deeper dives can look elsewhere (including the glossary and notes that constitute the final quarter of the book), but “Everydata” alone is a quick investment in becom- ing a smarter data consumer. — T ROY K. SCHNEIDER Finding purpose amid the politics Finding one’s purpose in life is something most profession- als contemplate at one time or another, and federal IT workers are no different. Most — wheth- er career civil servants or recent recruits from Silicon Valley — bring a passion for public service and dedication to mission-driven projects to the workplace every- day. Dan Pontefract believes such a sense of purpose not only has a role to play in the workplace but is essential for everyone to reach his or her potential. In “The Purpose Effect: Build- ing Meaning in Yourself, Your Role and Your Organization,” Ponte- fract describes a three-way rela- tionship between what motivates someone, why an organization exists and why that individual’s role exists in the organization. That’s a difficult balance to achieve in any organization, but it can be especially daunting in a massive enterprise like many federal agencies. Yet when all three areas align, he argues that The well-read CIO 18 June 15, 2016 FCW.COM BIANCA SPINOSA 0615fcw_014-019.indd 18 5/25/16 3:19 PM
May 30, 2016
June 30, 2016