Make Data Fun AgainAdhaar SharmaBlockedUnblockFollowFollowingJun 5I have been working with Data since I graduated college, and thankfully, I have been blessed to work with great people.
Work has always been fun because the people around me have always been very authentic.
Everyone has been open with their strengths and weaknesses, and their level of technical knowledge.
This has led to some fun moments at work.
When an intern successfully merged 250 files within their first hour of work, we congratulated them with their favorite chocolate.
When an analyst wrote a 5000 line Python script that saved us all an hour of daily work, we took an extended lunch to revel.
When all of us successfully deployed an ETL pipeline that took over a year to build, we celebrated through the night with our client!This is how Data Geeks celebrate right?Recently, I decided I wanted to expand my network of data geeks.
I started attending local MeetUps, joined different online communities and gave talks at my alma matar.
Hearing from the community at large made me realize I have been even more fortunate than I thought.
A lot of the conversations I have been having seem to involve a litany of empty questions and statements filled with buzzwords.
These conversations have left me worried about the level of fun in Data Science, especially as the field continues to grow.
It even showed in the React vs Data Science MeetUps I attended last week.
The React MeetUp was so much more fun.
Now, this is definitely to be expected.
When a field grows from niche to mainstream, and the media dubs it sexy, hot, gorgeous, not everyone joining that field will be doing it out of passion and enthusiasm.
You can even see it in the share of MBA students joining the Tech industry, long a haven for geeks and engineers.
PSA: I DID NOT MAKE THIS NOT PRETTY CHART!But that doesn’t mean we are destined to emptily advise one another that we definitely need the latest Data lake connected to Redshift built using Alteryx for running our AI super agent.
We can do better.
We need to make working with Data fun again.
And I think there is one thing we can work on to make that happen: authenticity.
What do I mean by authenticity? I mean being very open about your level of technical knowledge and your motivations on working with Data.
The biggest violation of this I see is people boasting their level of technical knowledge.
We work in a field where the sheer domain of things to know is immense.
It is very near impossible to know it all and to also keep up with knowing any new thing that is coming out.
That leads some people to spew off buzzwords they have read in the latest article with so much gusto as if they have been working with that technology for years.
What I found when I Googled buzzwords.
Which is how people probably find buzzwords.
Just yesterday someone told me they were working on an AI model with a massive data store on AWS that will truly revolutionize the patient care industry.
When I pressed them on details, it turns out they had watched some YouTube videos and were playing with a ~5000 row dataset in Weka that was stored in a CSV file on S3.
They had no knowledge of what the different Machine Learning algorithms were or how to store and process data in a structured database.
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with what this person is doing, we all have to start somewhere, but the boasting killed our conversation and the fun.
If they had admitted the extent of their knowledge, we would have continued to have an excellent rapport.
I would have even considered helping them with their project.
You would think that was the worst Data moment I had this week.
But alas! Over the weekend, a random team mate at a Data Hackathon gave me the limpest of high fives when I told them how I had achieved even higher accuracy than before only using 1/3 of the variables.
Initially I assumed their default high five was limp, but that assumption was thrown out when I saw them high fiving over the catered BBQ ribs!How I Felt After Seeing the High Five Over the BBQ RibsNow, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting or having a job for the sake of having a job and paying bills.
Not everyone is going to be passionate, especially in a field that now touches every domain and industry.
And that is okay.
Our current culture is to blame here too where there is immense pressure and expectation that if you are not super passionate at work, there is something inherently wrong with you.
However, we should be strive to be as authentic as we can about our passion.
There are still a lot of us that love this work and it’s easier to have fun when you know who you can share that enthusiasm with and who you cannot.
So please can all we agree to be open with how much we know and how much we care about Data.
I realize that is a lot to ask especially in a society where it is uncomfortable to do so and where recruiters are constantly asking for 10 years experience in a 5 year old technology.
But at the very least, we can be authentic with our fellow Data Geeks and hopefully make data fun again :).