Data Fragments

The Centre Pompidou in Paris. People crossing the street with data in the p[icture.

I have managed to read three of the tantilising feeds I received yesterday.

The first was by Prateek Karkare on Decision Trees (link). I found his intuitive introduction very helpful. He started with some binary decision examples then moved on to classification, regression, and learning.

The second was Scott Berinato’s Data Science and the Art of Persuasion (link). In it, Scott observes that organisations:

still expect data scientists to wrangle data, analyze it in the context of knowing the business and its strategy, make charts, and present them to a lay audience. That’s unreasonable.

He proposes “rethinking how data science teams are put together, how they’re managed, and who’s involved at every point in the process, from the first data stream to the final chart shown”.

Scott explores a last mile problem that has existed for a century (“As the cathedral is to its foundation so is an effective presentation of facts to the data”) (link). Scoot concludes that a better data science operation environment needs:

  • A definition of talents rather than team members (management, wrangling, analysis, domain expertise, design, storytelling)
  • Create a portfolio of talents
  • Share experiences and insights
  • Structure projects around talents

With this approach in place:

  • Assign a single, empowered stakeholder
  • Assign leading talent and support talent
  • Co-locate
  • Reuse and template

The third read was Susan Grajek’s The Student Genome Project (link). In her introduction, she observes:

In 2019, after a decade of preparing, colleges and universities stand on a threshold, eager to enter a new era of using technology to unlock our ability to apply data to advancing our missions. That threshold is similar to the one that science faced in the late 20th century: eager to begin using technology to put genetic information to use.

I thought this would resonate powerfully with sport contexts too. Note Susan’s point “We have a growing belief in the value and power of data to understand root causes and improve advice, decisions, and outcomes”.

This resonated very powerfully with me:

our sector faces a daunting preliminary task: we must understand the component parts (find the data, clean it, standardize it, safeguard it); integrate and manage those parts; and find the right tools for these tasks. Just as the big challenge facing genetics in the 1990s was foundational, so is the big challenge that confronts higher education and technology today. After almost a decade of attention and effort, we find ourselves still at the beginning of the data journey—needing to, in effect, “sequence” the data before we can apply it with any reliability or precision.

They are three data fragments but together they have provided me with another delightful day of exploration. I note them her as part of my learning portfolio.

Photo Credit

Photo by Curtis MacNewton on Unsplash

Meeting Lewis and Willard

Last week I was introduced to the work of Lewis Hine.


Today I have met Willard Brinton.


Both have returned my thoughts to the sociology of knowledge and personal learning journeys.

I met Lewis through a photograph shared by Audrey Watters. My introduction to Willard came through an alert from Stephen Downes to a post by Nathan Yau.

I am indebted to the Wikipedia accounts of their lives as a starting point for my interest in their work.

Lewis’s story has encouraged me to think much more about documentary photography as a way to hook attention and perhaps trigger learning. I found more information about his work in a collection of his photographs at the New York Public Library and at Duke University where there is a fellowship program named after him.

Willard’s two works on the graphical presentation of data (1914 and 1939) have me thinking about some timeless presentation and visualisation issues. Both his books are available from the Internet Archive. A 2012 post provided some additional background information on Willard and noted Willard’s discovery of William Playfair between the publication of both books. The 1939 publication is dedicated to William Playfair. The International Business Communications Standards (IBCS) refer to Willard’s principles in their discussion of perceptual rules for visual design (in the company of William Playfair, Gene Zelazny, Edward Tufte, and Stephen Few).

Meeting both of them has reminded me about the need for present day performance analysts to have a sense of history and their place in the sociology of ideas.

I am sorry it has taken me so long to find them.

Photo Credit