What We Are Reading Today: The Obama Portraits

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Updated 14 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Obama Portraits

Authors: Taína Caragol, Dorothy Moss, Richard Powell, and Kim Sajet 

 

From the moment of their unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery in early 2018, the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama have become two of the most beloved artworks of our time. 

Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of President Obama and Amy Sherald’s portrait of the former first lady have inspired unprecedented responses from the public, and attendance at the museum has more than doubled as visitors travel from near and far to view these larger-than-life paintings.

After witnessing a woman drop to her knees in prayer before the portrait of Barack Obama, one guard said, “No other painting gets the same kind of reactions. Ever.” The Obama Portraits is the first book about the making, meaning, and significance of these remarkable artworks, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Richly illustrated with images of the portraits, exclusive pictures of the Obamas with the artists during their sittings, and photos of the historic unveiling ceremony by former White House photographer Pete Souza, this book offers insight into what these paintings can tell us about the history of portraiture and American culture.


What We Are Reading Today: Dark Data by David J. Hand

Updated 21 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Dark Data by David J. Hand

In the era of big data, it is easy to imagine that we have all the information we need to make good decisions. But in fact the data we have are never complete, and may be only the tip of the iceberg. 

Just as much of the universe is composed of dark matter, invisible to us but nonetheless present, the universe of information is full of dark data that we overlook at our peril. 

In Dark Data, data expert David Hand takes us on a fascinating and enlightening journey into the world of the data we don’t see, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Dark Data explores the many ways in which we can be blind to missing data and how that can lead us to conclusions and actions that are mistaken. 

Examining a wealth of real-life examples, from the Challenger shuttle explosion to complex financial frauds, Hand gives us a practical taxonomy of the types of dark data that exist and the situations in which they can arise, so that we can learn to recognize and control them. 

In doing so, he teaches us not only to be alert to the problems presented by the things we don’t know, but also shows how dark data can be used to our advantage, leading to greater understanding and better decisions.