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Complex Systems & Data

Over the past few months, I have been exploring my fascination with complex systems (preferably with a human element). At my previous job, I did deal with complex engineering systems (or logistical systems) on a regular basis. However, it didn’t pique my interest as much as societal or biological systems. While engineering systems do have a tendency to behave in unexpected ways, the surprises that spring from human systems are more intriguing to me. I’ve recently decided to develop a new skill, data science, that can be more readily applied to human systems.

To support this new interest, I have written a few times about studying Python, but I more recently made a big commitment. I will be participating in the Seattle Data Science Dojo next week. It’s a 50 hour course for learning the basics of data science. I’ve already completed 8 hours of preparatory work, and each bit has been more thrilling than the last. Instead of slowly moving toward data science with Python, I decided to jump in feet first. By the end of next week, I hope to know whether data science is a career that I want to pursue or simply a tool in my kit for understanding complex systems better.

I hope it’s the former. The preparatory work got me thinking in new ways that I really enjoy. I keep finding new applications of big data. It also seems like a great way to defend my occasional (very large) leaps of logic. I haven’t been so excited for classes since I began college! It’s been a bit overwhelming – how excited I am. For quite some time, I have not allowed myself to get this excited. It’s scary to do so. The crash if I end up hating it will be so much harder with this much initial excitement. Yet I’m excited anyway. While logically this fits with my known interests etc. (blah blah blah), emotions are the spice of life. I think I’ll enjoy this class a lot more if I allow myself to be truly excited about it.

So, I’m pretty excited.

I do plan to be completely consumed with this for the next week though. 10 hours of class a day plus commuting will eat up most of my waking hours. Please don’t expect a de-brief until I recover next weekend. 🙂

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