Why I need an island

I’ve come across advice to blog from experienced Data Scientists more times than I care to remember. The advice is mainly for new entrants to the field - to help them set up a portfolio that can attract or showcase their skill set to potential employers. Fortunately, my first employers took a chance on me and I didn’t need to set up a newcomer portfolio. However, I’ve recently recognised a less widely-disseminated need for a semi-professional blog / website: as an outlet to prevent me from being an insufferable ass in public! In the last few months of consulting, I’ve had the incredible opportunity of getting paid while I explore new tools and techniques. As a result, I’m like the hyper-excited child shouting ‘Look at this awesome!!!”. A tedium for anyone in the vicinity of my enthusiasm.

Image Credit: © Illumination Entertainment & Universal Pictures

A more serious reason to start a blog comes from Srinivas Rao’s newest book ‘An Audience of One’. In this book, Rao explores the thesis of producing work for oneself. I’m particularly entranced by the idea of having a purpose without any external reason or validation. I’m a person who’s motivated by someone else’s needs. I work hard for others and aim to deliver something useful to them. But amidst all this work, I forget to explore. And if I do explore, I rarely take the idea to an MVP (more like an MRO - minimum readable output). Scratching around without time to consolidate thoughts on the work, means no opportunity to consider the suite of possibilities. More immediately, these are possibilities for the work itself - future direction, potential applications etc. But the work we do also shapes our passion and purpose. Without time to deeply consider my work, I’ve been missing out on scoping possibilities for my future, or setting trajectories towards a greater purpose.

While publishing a blog on the publicly accessible interwebs might seem an ironic salute to the lofty aim of ‘producing for oneself’, the reality is that blogs are often internet islands inhabited only by their creator. But the very possibility of someone else getting stranded on my little cyber-island (even for a short while; or possibly by mistake) is enough to make me commit to professionalism while retaining my shouting levels of enthusiasm.

This little island will contain diverse flora and fauna; from spatial analysis monsters to Bayesian flowers. Despite my claims of being a Data Scientist, I cannot predict future posts with any great accuracy. A Markov Chain model would say that future posts will be similar to my first set of data science posts: mostly on spatial analyses. This reflects my growing fascination towards urban planning - especially in developing countries. But, my model could be wildly wrong; I might start blogging about alternative energy or topic models!

Let the island life begin.

Image Credit: © Electronic Arts

Written on September 19, 2018