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Cultivating creativity in data work
January 24, 2019
Traditionally, statistical training has focused primarily on mathematical derivations, proofs of statistical tests, and the general correctness of what methods to use for certain applications. However, this is only one dimension of the practice of doing analysis. Other dimensions include the technical mastery of a language and tooling system, and most importantly the construction of a convincing narrative tailored to a specific audience, with the ultimate goal of them accepting the analysis. These "softer" aspects of analysis are difficult to teach, perhaps more so when the field is framed as mathematics and often housed in mathematics departments. In this talk, I discuss an alternative framework for viewing the field, borrowing upon the past work in other fields such as design. Looking forward, we as a field can borrow from these fields to cultivate and hone the creative lens so necessary to the success of applied work.
Hilary Parker is a Data Scientist on the styling recommendations team at Stitch Fix, a personal styling service that uses a combinations of human stylists and algorithmic recommendations to help people find what they love. At Stitch Fix, she focuses on what sorts of data to collect from clients in order to optimize clothing recommendations, as well as building out prototypes of algorithms or entirely new products based on new data sources. She is also a co-founder of the Not So Standard Deviations podcast, a bi-weekly data science podcast with Roger Peng that has over half a million downloads. Their topics of discussion include the R ecosystem, recent developments in the data science and statistics field, reproducibility and the "how" of how data scientists and statisticians work. Hilary recently authored the paper Opinionated Analysis Development based on discussions from the podcast. Prior to her career in the tech field, Hilary received her PhD in Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She lives at the San Francisco Zen Center with her partner, a Soto Zen Priest. In her free time, she enjoys exploring her home of 2 years, San Francisco.