Advancing into Analytics: What’s with the bird?

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Technical publishers are an interesting case study. With most trade books, readers hardly know or are concerned with the publisher. There might be a tiny penguin or house on the corner of the cover, but that’s the only marking.

By contrast, you can usually tell the publisher of a technical book before anything else, even before its author. And that’s perhaps more true for O’Reilly Media than any other with its iconic animal illustrations.

Advancing into Analytics Cover Image

Like many, I was instantly intrigued by O’Reilly books (both the inside and out) when I got into tech. Hypothetically, I always wondered what my O’Reilly animal might be. I don’t have to wonder any longer; I am a proud O’Reilly Media author of Advancing into Analytics: From Excel to Python and R:

To my tech friends, the cover speaks for itself. But to everyone else, there’s a decent about of explaining to do. First — yes, O’Reilly is a legitimate publisher that people have heard of; in fact, a celebrated one. Also — yes, it is printed and made available “wherever books are sold.” But most importantly — that is a Clark’s nutcracker on the cover, and it’s a great fit for the book for these reasons (intentional or not):

It’s an explorer’s bird

It turns out this bird is named after the explorer William Clark of Lewis & Clark fame. Is there a better name for a book called Advancing into Analytics? I hope this book imparts the same intreprid spirit to readers, that they can tackle more complex data analysis by leveling up their spreadsheet know-how.

It’s a mountain-dweller

The Clark’s Nutcracker is a pine-dweller largely native to remote areas of the Rocky Mountains. Mountain, get it? I got the sense designers like my surname when it factored prominently (or subtly, dependeing on how you look at it) into my business logo:

Stringfest Analytics main logo
Do you see the “Mount”ain now? Is your mind blown?

It tucks everything away

These birds are known to bury thousands of pine seeds for the winter. Similarly, this book helps you store away tiny nuggets of working with data which can be used and re-used later. For example, you’ll be able to explore and confirm insights from data using first Excel, and then reproducing that analysis in R and Python.

Operations like sorting, filtering and merging datasets is universal to working with data, regardless of the language used. You’ll be able to store away knowledge of how to do it for later, regardless of the specific software you’re using.

It’s fearless

Data rarely comes in a ready-to-consume format, so data analysts are constantly on the prowl for new sources. Now, it’s great to be prepared and tuck away nuggets for later, but if you see an opportunity as a data analysts — you take it.

My first impression of the Clark’s Nutcracker was so idyllic — high in the Rocky wilderness, they burrow thousands of seeds; what a solitary life! But a friend from Montana disabused me of this tranquility, relaying the following:

We call them ‘Camp Robbers,’ that’s the local name. If you shoot an elk they come flocking immediately and eat the gut pile once you’ve dressed it out.

Humbly tucking away scraps and seeds is great, but data analysts will really take any opportunity to gather and explore.

Come and get it

Named after an explorer, this bird plans ahead but take every opportunity it gets. Data analysts thrive with the same mentality — always learning more, being fearless to get there.

I’ve only been out West once, but plan to make a pilgrimage to the Clark’s nutcracker habitat for some O’Reilly-inspired birding. If you’re in the area, please do share any stories, pictures, or thoughts you have about the bird.

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