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The EagerEyes Holiday Shopping Guide

Are you looking for the perfect gift for the data or visualization geek in your life? Did that crazy self-driving water bottle Kickstarter still not deliver, leaving you hunting for an overpriced Nintendo Classic? The EagerEyes Holiday Shopping Guide has all the geeky, uncool gifts you could possibly want.

To be clear, none of the links below are affiliate links. That smug, righteous feeling is easily worth the twelve cents I might make from a few people purchasing stuff through my links.

Coffee Table Books

Who doesn't like a beautiful book to casually leave lying around so they look smart?

  • Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec’s Dear Data is a great book to leaf through, not just to look at great ideas and examples, but to get inspired to do some data collecting and sketching yourself.
  • Randall Munroe, Thing Explainer. Not really a coffee table book, but definitely passes as one for the geekier types (assuming they have coffee tables, but that’s their problem). Might also work as a hint to the mansplainer in your life.
  • The Origin of (Almost) Everything by Graham Lawton and Jennifer Daniel is a book in the tradition of Nigel Holmes and others: it’s a collection of articles about many different topics, like quantum physics, what kinds of animals we keep and for what purpose, or why we cook foods. They are all illustrated in Daniel’s whimsical style to illustrate, explain, and entertain. It’s a beautiful book too, which makes it a great gift.

Serious Books

The really impressive books are the ones on the shelves, of course. Here are a few that will not embarrass your copies of the old classics.

  • Jon Schwabish, Better Presentations. This could also be a not-so-subtle hint to someone, but it’s going to be a useful gift no matter what.
  • Alberto Cairo, The Truthful Art. This is the sequel to Cairo’s The Functional Art, which I reviewed in some depth a while ago. The new(ish) book focuses more on statistical thinking behind the graphics. It still has many visual examples, but it goes into some more depth than the first one.
  • Andy Kirk’s book Visualising Data is not just for the fancy britophile who abhors American spelling. I haven’t read it in its entirety yet and need to write a proper review. It’s getting great reviews from others though, and looks like a very useful resource. And yes, britophile is totally a word.
  • Tamara Munzner’s book, Visualization Analysis and Design, is perhaps the opposite of a coffee table book. It’s a very academic treatment of the field. This is another item on my review todo list,

Things That Are Not Books

Okay, so the person you’re trying to buy something for already has way too many books. What else is there?

  • Is the person a runner? You could buy them a beautiful running map of a famous marathon. Or, if you can crack their password, you can use their Strava data to make a personalized one. Not to condone illegal activity here, but it’s totally justified if it's for a good cause.
  • If they like maps but don’t run (or aren’t on Strava for whatever bizarre reason), you can still give them a custom map of a place you pick in the style you want.
  • And if you’re after something more portable than a map, how about a necklace or a ring based on a geographic feature? Yes, it’s all a bit map-centric, but it’s not my fault that Rachel Binx is so obsessed with them (this and the previous one are her projects).
  • I spend way too much money on Adafruit (and also Sparkfun), so why not get you hooked as well? They have all sorts of electronics, and their starter kits are very nice. Like this one to get that special someone started with Arduino. They can program the thing and start collecting their own data (temperature, light, etc.). And if they still insist on a retro game console, they can make their own with a Raspberry Pi (some – okay, a lot of – assembly required). Sparkfun has a similar kit.

And if all else fails, you can always just print out this entire website.

Teaser image by Adam Foster

Posted by Robert Kosara on December 6, 2016.