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Back from Strata Jumpstart

September 20, 2011

So I gave my talk yesterday at the Strata Jumpstart conference, and I’ll be back on Thursday and Friday to attend the Strata Conference conference.

I was delighted to meet a huge number of fun, hopeful, and excited nerds throughout the day. Since my talk was pretty early in the morning, I was able to relax afterwards and just enjoy all the questions and remarks that people wanted to discuss with me.

Some were people with lots of data, looking for data scientists who could analyze it for them, others were working with packs of data scientists (herds? covens?) and were in search of data. It was fun to try to help them find each other, as well as to hear about all the super nerdy and data-driven businesses that are getting off the ground right now. It certainly was an optimistic tone, I didn’t feel like we were in the middle of a double-dip recession for the entire day (well, at least til I got home and looked at the Greek default news).

Conferences like these are excellent; they allow people to get together and learn each others’ languages and the existence of the new tools and techniques in use or in development. They also save people lots of time, make fast connection that would otherwise difficult or impossible, and of course sometimes inspire great new ideas. Too bad they are so expensive!

I also learned that there’s such thing as a “data scientist in residence,” held of course by very few people, which is the equivalent in academic math to having a gig at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Wow. I still haven’t decided whether I’d want such a cushy job. After all, I think I learn the most when I have reasonable pressure to get stuff done with actual data. On the other hand maybe that much freedom would allow one to do really cool stuff. Dunno.

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