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11 november

Hello fellow datanistas,

Welcome to the November 2020 edition of the Data Science Programming newsletter. Each newsletetter edition, I hope to bring you something new that is of value for your learning as a data scientist.

This past month, I stumbled across Andy Matuschack's notes, and found one of them to be super inspiring: Working with the garage door up. As such, I wanted to highlight some "open garage door learnings" from data practitioners in my circle, which I hope sparks more "open garage door learnings" from you too.

Learning on functional programming with R

This one is by Apoorva Srinivasan, a recent graduate of Columbia University whom I met at a hackathon organized by the company I work for. In her blog post, she touches on some really important pointers on why, as data scientists, we might want to level-up our programming skills. One of my favourite lines from her post

However, as you take on increasingly complex projects, you may find yourself thinking about more and more about structuring your project well and writing code that is easy to understand, debug, reuse, and maintain.

Be sure to check out the rest of her post here!

Why Have a Data Science Portfolio and What It Shows

Eugene Yan writes extensively on the topic of data science careers, and I particularly enjoyed the essay he wrote titled Why Have a Data Science Portfolio and What It Shows. A lot of what he has written mirrors what I experienced working with my own garage door open, and for those looking to break into a career (not just data science), having a curated and constantly updated public-facing portfolio is a wonderful way to document your learnings, share them with the world, and demonstrate the non-technical trait of lifelong learning.

Samuel Oranyeli's Data Wrangling Blog

Right up the alley of learning in the open is Sam's blog on data wrangling. Even with my 6 years of pandas experience, I found myself learning something new from Sam's writings. In there, you'll find lots of practical advice for those who are interested in practical wrangling of messy spreadsheet data that come to us from collaborators, and his writings are directly in the spirit of learning in the open.

Git Scraping

Simon Willison, one of my heroes for giving us Datasette, writes about git scraping on his blog. The idea is to be able to track public sources of data over time, which sometimes is more interesting than each snapshot individually.

An example of git scraping in action is a tracker for the battleground states in this year's US Presidential elections. Made by GitHub user alex, the website is found on GitHub pages, while the repo can be found on GitHub. Apart from being an incredibly useful real-time tracker of the election counts this year, in my opinion, it also served as a great example of building (and learning) in the open.

The myths and traps of managing up

This comes from a developer blog, but having read the post, I think the content is relevant for data scientists too, both being technical professions. One particular quote that I find important:

The lead who is not great at managing up is also less able to sponsor others, a less useful ally to their own team, and their team has to contend with a harsher broader environment.

After all, we as data scientists are not in the business of politics for politics sake. If we do engage in managing expectations, it's for the benefit of the whole team.

Thank you for reading

Next edition, I am planning a newsletter centered on JAX, as the more I've used it, the more I've become excited about what we could build with it!

I'd also like to celebrate with you all the milestone of hitting 300 newsletter subscribers - thank you to everyone who has subscribed :). Please do share the link to the subscribe page with those whom you think might benefit from it.

As always, let me know on Twitter if you've enjoyed the newsletter, and I'm always open to hearing about the new things you've learned from it. In particular, I'm curious to hear from you too: what are you building in your open-door garage?

Meanwhile, if you'd like to get early access to new written tutorials, essays, 1-on-1 consulting and complimentary access to the Skillshare workshops that I make, I'd appreciate your support on Patreon!

Stay safe, stay indoors, and keep hacking!

Cheers, Eric