In “IUUI 4 followup” on June 10, 2013, I noted that the possibility of doing a book about everyday statistics, and a related book showing librarians step-by-step how to gain useful information from IMLS and NCES statistics without (a) becoming statisticians, (b) going crazy or (c) even having access to Access (see outline here) was still very much up in the air.
I closed the followup post with this:
My sensible side says there’s just not enough interest to make this worth doing.
My other side keeps wondering whether I could do a good enough job that it would get the word-of-mouth marketing that self-pub books really require (unless you’re ready to spend serious dough).
I think where things stand is that I might try writing the first two chapters and see whether they point to something I’d be proud of and believed would both be short enough to appeal to people and useful enough to satisfy them and me.
I gave it a shot…
I did try writing the first two chapters of “Mostly Numbers,” a slightly revised title for the “general everyday statistics” part of the project.
Which doesn’t mean that I think the idea’s useless. But it apparently won’t work for me, at least at this point. My difficulty in even writing draft chapters in an area I know well says that it isn’t meant to be. I found myself doing almost anything else rather than focusing on this.
Maybe it’s because it really isn’t a learning process in this case. Maybe it’s because, the more I looked at the issues with “misleading graphics,” the more tentative I became–there’s a huge gray area between intentionally misleading graphics (e.g., the crap NEA pulled years ago in trying to prove that Americans don’t read) and choosing techniques that emphasize a point without actually misleading.
Maybe it’s because I didn’t think I could do a good job of it in a small enough space to make it attractive–and really didn’t think I could market it well enough to get back subminimum wage for the effort (e.g., at least $3.50 an hour!).
So that one’s on the back burner, at least until various other projects are complete, which is likely to mean March 2014 at the earliest.
Then there’s the library part…
I haven’t quite given up on the book specifically targeting academic and public librarians, or rather a shorter and simpler version of that book. Here’s sort of what this might look at. Let’s still call it “Mostly Numbers” with a subtitle “Coping with Library Statistics.”
- Why Everyday Statistics are Mostly Numbers
- Doing Statistics Right: Transparency and Ethics
- Fair Presentations and Coping with Outliers
- Everyday Statistics: The Terms You Need to Know
- The Other Terms You’ll Encounter
- The Tests You Can Probably Ignore
- The Tools I’m Using for This Book
- Using Excel to Expand Your Public Library Awareness
- Using Excel to Expand Your Academic Library Awareness
I’m not sure this one works either. Again, I might try writing a chapter or two. The last two chapters may be the most helpful/useful. I’m not sure.