Data Science is Different Now

Holy shit. This post is gospel. From the inimitable (and Philly-based!) Vicki Boykis, this extremely well-researched piece tells the story of an industry that is being super-saturated with junior-level talent with poor expectations, a lack of differentiated skills, and no clear way to get in the door. It shares many data points on how the job is minimally about model training and primarily about data cleansing and transport. It recommends prioritization of skills related to a) SQL, b) engineering, and c) the cloud.

But the scope is bigger than that. It positions the industry on a long-term continuum of hype-vs-maturity and is the first place I've read that suggests that the field is oversaturated from a human capital perspective. Most analyses of human capital in a field talk about headcount: "We need 10,000 machinists." But in such a new and such a technical field, Vicki's point is that while we may need some more data scientists, we need far fewer than the data scientist training ecosystem is now printing out. Instead, what we actually need is more data scientists with experience...and that can only happen with time.

I cannot say enough about how much I like this post. You should read it. You should send it to your friends. You should particularly send it to your friends who are thinking about getting into the data science today.

Finally: being a Twitter native, Vicki quotes a lot of tweets in the post. Here is my favorite, quoting Hinton:


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