Combine's Summer Reading List: More than Math! - Combine | Combine

Do you hear that? Is the sound of shorts and flip-flops rapidly being fetched from storage. Juvenile birds leave their nests, mosquitoes sharpen their mandibles, and you start making drinks with fruits that have names you can’t really spell.

In spite of the official date being June 21 of 2018, summer has already arrived on most of the northern hemisphere: spray me full of sunscreen, lather me on bug repellent and all hands on hanging the hammocks because the time to read outside is now!

If you want some inspiration, here are some Books and Curiosities that you can find interesting.

We trust that you can take just about any technique / paper / piece of code and learn from it. But communicating clearly? Making your message interesting while communicating? Knowing what kind of questions to ask before diving into a task? Reading the possible meanings behind an answer to a question? That is a skill just like any other and requires just about as much work if you want to hone it.

Most of this list is not about any specific mathematical or statistical technique. This is rather a list of resources to develop those ”soft” yet important sides of ourselves that we often overlook while being immersed in math and code.




”Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less” by Joseph McCormack

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[brief] was my secret weapon during a Swedish Trade mission to Geneva on 2017. We used the methods in this book for refining a 30 second pitch about our companies and products. The real power became evident when the whole trade mission was asked to trim the pitch to 20 seconds as en exercise. We were able to deliver a clear message about our company and business using exactly 4 sentences.

Ever dreamed of being capable of controlling the succinctness of your presentations? Tired of back-to-back meetings? Read this book. Share it with your coworkers. Give it as a gift to your rebellious teenager instead of that gadget. Go ahead and be the change you want to see in the world!


”Designing with Data: Improving the user experience with A/B Testing” by Rochelle King, Elizabeth F. Churchill & Caitlin Tan)

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This book is strongly focused on how to study and understand your user, using data. From this main goal, many important points are raised: What are we hoping to capture about your users from the data you collect? How do you use qualitative data and quantitative data together? When is small sample research useful? What is the meaning of statistical significance in the context of making a design decision?

One of the main messages of this book is pretty refreshing: there is a false dichotomy between data and design. When design is informed by data, both fields work towards a shared goal: understanding users and crafting experiences.

Are you involved on creating anything that someone else will use? From reports to applications, to that business idea you had about renting Augmented Reality parrots, the same applies:

”Designers, data scientists, developers, and business leaders need to work together to determine what data to collect, as well as when, why, and how to manage, curate, summarize, and communicate with and through data.”


 ”The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the perfect English Phrase” by Mark Forsyth

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This book has a strange combination of punk rock and refinement. Few things say ”anti-authoritarian” as loudly as bashing Shakespeare in the first chapters of a book on eloquence. Granted, I think his point is that many literary resources can be used by anyone, if you learn the right formulae and have some creativity for filling in the blanks.

Do you want your writing/presentations to be memorable? Take some tips from this book. Study the forms that phrases can take. Think about how can you use them to convey the right messages. Have fun. And most importantly: Less people will nap on your keynotes!



High Resolution Series on Design

The paths that lead you to mind-opening experiences are often accidental. One of the speakers of the Tales from the Road Meetup (and a dear friend) shared a High Resolution episode with Rochelle King from Spotify. The whole series extremely useful for grasping the language, worries and experiences of tech companies in the current age.

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

Surprising how can very simple mathematical tools can yield such interesting and beautiful results when applied in an unexpected context. In particular:

”While our interest has been in reconstructing the social network of a specific time and place – sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Britain – there are few barriers to re-deploying our method in other historical or contemporary societies. We used short biographical entries, but we could with minor changes have used contemporary book prefaces, modern scholarly articles, blogs, or other kinds of texts. All that is needed is machine-readable text in which the co-occurrence of names is a reasonable indicator of connections between persons.”


Suggestions? Write a comment! Happy summer!



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