Single Steps, Journeys And All That

public void Introduction()


I’m not a Data Scientist (yet). I don’t even qualify as a sort of Data Scientist. Not even “ish”. I am good with data though. I’ve been working with data my whole career and before that if you count college and university years. I’ve been taught that computer systems are programs and data. That’s “AND” data. There’s no priority given except in the order of words in the sentence so therefore Data is as important as the programs. Too often these days “Data” is thought of as some kind of inferior part of the system and, for some people, as big an inconvenience as Users. If anything Data should be the most important thing as it is the enduring record, the lasting representation, of the world being recorded. Get the data wrong and it doesn’t matter how elegant your program, what language it’s written in, or whether it was developed under Agile or Waterfall – you can get yourself into trouble.


public string WhereICameFrom()


I was born before the home computer revolution started so I’ve seen it all – the whole crazy ultra invasive popular thing. My first computer was a Commodore Vic 20. My first program took me 6 months to write. I played Pong, Space Invaders, Defender, Manic Miner and all the rest. I wrote up my college assignments in WordPerfect on an Amstrad 1640. I built my first spreadsheets in Lotus 123 on an Apricot computer. I learnt BASIC on my VIC 20, Spectrum and BBC Micro. Then there was Assembler, Pascal, COBOL, Fortran, C, ADA. Not to mention all the different machines along the way ; Prime, VAX, IBM Mainframes and PCs – you name it. My first job was in a DATA Processing department which is what I.T was called before it was called I.T. I’ve built systems actually used by people in anger. I’ve built Dashboards, Scorecards, Management Information Systems, Pricing Models, Predictive Sales Models. Then there’s stuff like Six Sigma, the General Linear Model, stochastic modelling. I’ve built programs that extract and transform data. So yes I know data…I’ve lived with it in one way or another for 30 years. I’ve used it, created it, analysed it, enriched it. One might even say I’m fascinated by it.
private int Autism(int i)
You see…I’m autistic. I never knew until my son came along and already at 9 years old he’s been a qualified Autistic for three years. That’s how I know – because his patterns of behaviour during his life so far have been exactly as mine were during the same period of my life. Patterns of behaviour – that’s something else I’m interested in. Because I’m autistic you see – I notice patterns. Words and phrases stick in my mind and I repeat them to myself over and over if I’m not careful. I just don’t function like normal people and I realised at a young age that I stood out from all the other kids. I used to hate it but now I just accept it and don’t try to hide it anymore. Social stuff I’m crap at – I get things wrong all the time and I say things that I shouldn’t – all innocently of course and most of the time I don’t notice. So…to get by…to survive in social situations I’ve had to watch, to analyse, to notice things. Changes in expressions. Tone of voice. Use of words. Sarcasm. People avoiding me. Then there’s the strength of the inter-relationship between all those different social signals that comes naturally to others. I believe that I’m good at it now…but only that part of it…my own behaviour still goes off piste and still feel like I don’t fit. So I’m still adjusting constantly – my responses to stimuli are all learned and forever being adjusted.
static void NaturalFit(string myString)
You may have noticed by now that I’m setting myself up to seem like a natural fit to be a Data Scientist. But it’s too late to be a proper one. At 46 years old I doubt I’ll be doing a degree in Statistics at this point. So I need to take the other route – to learn the techniques, the programming languages required, and to stay in the field I’ve been working for 23 years, that of Insurance, where I can relate and where I know the processes involved. There’s plenty to get stuck in with too. There’s data all over the place. Beautiful ugly and weird. Keyed, derived, and constantly being transformed, interpreted, misunderstood and misused.
I’d better get started!

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