1 Welcome

It seems that everything is now a data problem. The global pandemic only accelerated this trend with billions of people pushed further into virtual spaces, leaving a digital trail of data behind them.

With organizations today capturing, analyzing, and using this data more effectively than ever before, people across companies are being asked to interact with a variety of data assets and become fluent in the language of data.

This isn’t always easy, especially for people with limited to no formal data training or experience. This is a lot to ask and there was a point not too long ago where data people worked with data and non-data people stayed away. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your mindset, that reality is no more.

This textbook is aimed at those being pulled into a world of data that they did not expect to join. It covers the basics of data fundamentals and aims to provide you with the lingo and confidence to make more evidence-based decisions on the job, regardless of your current role.


Two spreadsheets shared via Google Docs serve as our foundation. All material is based on Data as a Second Language, a course for working professionals that I’ve taught at the Harvard Extension School since 2016.

We live in an unprecedented time for learning. Some of the topics we’ll discuss will interest you more than others. I encourage you to search www.datakwery.com to find thousands of courses and learning resources for the material that excites you the most.


The first iteration of this book was drafted alongside Ken Jee’s #66DaysOfData challenge. You can read more about the challenge here and here. Its tagline is 66 Days. 5 minutes a day. Every day with the goal to build a new habit and make incremental progress with data along the way.