Home > math education, news > Quit your job and become a data miner!?

Quit your job and become a data miner!?

July 27, 2011

Today my friend sent me this link, which is a pretty interesting and inspiring video of a talk from a guy from Google named Steve Yegge talking at an O’Reilly conference about how he’s sick of working on uninspiring projects involving social media and cat pictures, and wants to devote himself (and wants you to devote yourself) to more important questions about the nature of human existence. And he things the way to go about this is to become a data miner. I dig it! Of course he’s preaching to the choir at that conference. I wonder what other people will make of his appeal. Can one nerd change an entire culture of endless cat pic collections?

And lest you think that data mining is the answer to everything, here’s an article about how much data mining (in the form of “Value-added modeling”) can screw up other peoples’ lives when it’s misdirected. It’s written by John Ewing, who is the fabulous president of MfA, an organization that trains and mentors excellent college math majors to become effective math teachers in the New York Public School system and beyond- the “beyond” part is partly due to the crazy state of the budgets for new teachers here in NYC- we now have access to these wonderful MfA graduates but have hiring freezes so we can’t hire them. Also, my good friend Japheth Wood, a.k.a. the Math Wizard, is one of the MfA mentors.

I’m planning to post more soon on how crappy the value-added modeling (VAM) system is and how’s it’s a perfect example of mathematics being used to make things seem magical and therefore inaccessible, the exact opposite of what should be going on.

Categories: math education, news
  1. karen
    July 27, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Um, exsqueeze me? What’s uninspiring about cat pictures?

    Totally off-topic but I took my statistics final today and I couldn’t be happier about being finished with that class! I was so uninspired by statistics, I always had to spend a good hour looking at cats on the internet before I could motivate to do the homework ;p


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