bug repellent

a blog by @captainsafia

<= go home

Let’s Hear It For Small Data

Earlier today, I sent out this tweet.

I strongly believe that the future of data science will be in small data and in people who don’t have PhDs in anything.

— Safia Abdalla (@captainsafia) December 13, 2015

I figured I might elaborate on that a bit more here.

  • Most “big data” exists because organizations do not put enough thought into what kind of data they should be collecting, how it should be done, and what the ethical and technical implications of having this data are.
  • Diversity of thought is important in any field, but more so in data science, a field that recommends, filters, and analyzes data for people. The bulk of the thinking involved in building the models that increasingly rule our digital lives should not be left to the narrow portion of the population that posseses graduate level degrees.
  • As a society we must work to ensure that the valuable insights data science can provide to organizations and individuals is not in the hands of the few. I believe data science is the wealth of the future and I refuse to have the income inequality we see in the rule world displayed in the data world.
  • As data scientists, we must be sure to interact with people beyond our core network. Go talk to artists about their problems, go talk to garbage men about their problems, go talk to nurses about their problems.

All of the above (and a few more that I probably forgot about) are the reason I teach free data science courses to people from a variety of backgrounds (everyone from single moms to grandmothers) and have started a company to provide analytics services to small business and grassroots organizations. The opinions above are literally embedded in the fiber of my work, and I believe they should be embedded in the work of all data scientists.

The only “big” thing data science is about is big ideas.