My Small Data Review is based on The Rubric.

You can see how Small Data ranks compared to other business books on The List.

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Small Data Review by The Rubric

SectionScore
Arguments63%
Practicality50%
Enjoyability75%
Readability65%
External ResourcesN/A
Rhetoric90%
In Total67%
Small Data Review

Small Data Review

Arguments

63%

I really enjoyed Small Data by Martin Lindstrom, but I understand why it has a lower-than-average rating on Amazon and Goodreads compared to the other books on The List.

For one, this book reads like listening to an old man reminisce about his good old days while sipping something hard at the bar. It’s interesting in that personal way of getting to know and connecting with someone, but it’s also a bit disconnected and hard to follow.

Instead of presenting coherent ideas and arguments, Lindstrom strings the reader along through his personal experience helping companies (many of which we know and love) figure out how to deliver products that we want and how we want them.

The stories were charming, even if they were a bit all over the place. And to Lindstrom’s credit, I think he is well aware that his stories jump around, as he mentions it.

But what it means for the book is that the reader walks away with a fuzzier impression of what the author was trying to say than is helpful when reading for business purposes.

And for that reason…

By The Rubric, Small Data scored barely “Decent” for arguments.

Practicality

50%

But for the last chapter where Lindstrom tries to delineate a process by which he collects, analyzes, and draws conclusions from small data (and it really did seem like an afterthought), there was nothing tangible presented in Small Data that would leave the reader better prepared to do what Lindstrom does.

This book is not a how-to, and to Lindstrom’s credit, he didn’t add a subtitle promising anything of a practical nature.

I wonder though, given that the last chapter does at least attempt to answer the question of “how,” if there is another book coming that will be more instructional in nature.

By The Rubric, Small Data scored “It’s a Start” for practicality.

Enjoyability

75%

As I mentioned, I actually enjoyed this book quite a bit. If you like reading/hearing someone’s stories about their success in business, this book fits the bill.

In addition to being interesting and exciting, it’s also inspiring in the sense that you leave the book with your eyes open for small data you encounter on a daily basis.

How long that inspiration and awareness lasts… well that’s up to you.

By The Rubric, Small Data scored on the higher end of “Decent” for enjoyability.

Readability

65%

Writing is not Lindstrom’s craft and it shows. He gets the job mostly done, but that’s about it.

If you’re looking for that rare combination of excellent writing with excellent argumentation and excellent stories, keep looking.

By The Rubric, Small Data scored on the low end of “Decent” for readability.

External Resources

N/A

There might have been use for external resources in the last chapter, but I wouldn’t say they were necessary to make the book work. And there were none offered, so this section doesn’t really apply.

Rhetoric

90%

Going back to the beginning of my review here, it was like sitting next to an interesting and listening to his stories at the bar. The problem is, it didn’t really matter who was sitting next to him. He was going to repeat those stories no matter what.

The lack of targeting was really the only problem in the rhetoric section, as Lindstrom isn’t selling anything but his stories here. That said, if you’re curious, his website is about like his book… a bit all over the place with big stories.

By The Rubric, Small Data scored “Excellent” for rhetoric.

In Total

67%

If you’re looking for inspiration, or to know you’re not crazy for thinking some seemingly small detail about your customers might be relevant for your product/business, then by all means, check out Small Data.

And I do hope Lindstrom follows Small Data up with a more instructional book, as I think what he does sounds fascinating…

But for those of us who like to walk away with a concrete idea about what to do next in our business, this book is not that.

By The Rubric, Small Data scored “Decent” in total.