Home > talks > Finishing up Weapons of Math Destruction

Finishing up Weapons of Math Destruction

January 6, 2016

Great news, you can now pre-order my book on Amazon. That doesn’t mean it’s completely and utterly finished, but nowadays I’m working on endnote formatting rather than having existential crises about the content. I’m also waiting to see the proposed design of the book’s cover, for which I sent in a couple of screen shots of my python code. And pretty soon I get to talk about stuff like font, which I don’t care about at all.

But here’s the weird part. This means it’s beginning.

You see, when you’ve lived your life as a mathematician and quant, projects are usually wrapped up right around now. You do your research, give talks, and finally write your paper, and then it’s over. I mean, not entirely, because sometimes people read your paper, but actually that mostly doesn’t happen for the published version but instead with the preprint archive. By the time you’ve finished submitting your paper, you’re kind of over your result and you want to move on.

When you do a data science project, a similar thing happens. The bulk of the work happens pre-publishing. Once the model is published, it’s pretty much over for you, and you go on to the next project.

Not so with book publishing. This whole process, as long and as arduous and soul-sucking as it’s been, is just a pre-cursor to the actual event, which is the publication of the book (September 6th of next this year). Then I get to go around talking about this stuff with people for weeks if not months. And although I’m very familiar with the content, the point of writing the book wasn’t simply for me to know the stuff and then move on, it’s for me to spread that message. So it’s also exciting to talk to other people about it.

I also recently got a booking agent, which you can tell if you’ve noticed my new Contact Page. That means that when people invite me to give a talk they’re going to deal with her first, and she’s going to ask for real money (or some other good reason I might want to do it). This might offend some people, especially academics who are used to having people available to donate their time for free, but I’m really glad to have her, given how many talk requests I get on a weekly basis.

Categories: talks
  1. Mark Schaeffer
    January 6, 2016 at 8:33 am

    But do you really mean to say that the publication date is September 6, 2017?


  2. mathematrucker
    January 6, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Those book phases sound mildly analogous to first solving a math problem then writing up the solution. A few weeks ago I finally got around to reading, after a friend suggested it, Frenkel’s “Love and Math.” In it the author says he loves doing math but dislikes writing it up (which I guess could be partly why he’s so good at math). To me both are equally enjoyable; I view writing up the solution as just a different type of puzzle to solve.

    I’m not really a data science person, but I still look forward to getting your book! Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. January 6, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Congratulations! I would love to have you spread the message around here, but I guess that would be somewhat preaching to the choir =) I can’t wait to read the entire book!


  4. January 7, 2016 at 1:50 am

    That’s awesome Cathy! It’s been such a long time but a friend randomly pointed to some posts of yours and I was all like… Wait a minute! I KNOW her!! (from HCSSiM ’87, ’88)
    Big Hugs!
    Ash Sangoram


  5. January 7, 2016 at 2:09 am

    Looking forward to reading it. I hope you didn’t use Word to write this…


  6. Frog Leg
    January 8, 2016 at 10:50 am

    When you say

    “When you do a data science project, a similar thing happens. The bulk of the work happens pre-publishing. Once the model is published, it’s pretty much over for you, and you go on to the next project.”

    This is certainly not the case in my experience. My experience with data science in the corporate setting looks a lot more like the book selling experience you have described. After the model is complete, I go on a “road tour” to bring the model to potential users and convince them to buy it, generate buzz, etc. I continue to answer questions about the model, often years later.


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