Dramatic Website Changes!

The blog still exists, but it now a smaller part of my personal website.

In fact, this blog is now a great example of how my understanding of what I want to do has changed over time. First, I began with side projects. (Then, I got consumed with work, so I quit and spent more time on projects). Now I feel like I finally have a good balance. I work 25 hours a week and this website (and some book ideas) are my new project.

Honestly, work has been a fun project too. I think that I may have found my niche, systems analysis. I discovered this by spending hours pouring through all the SaaS products that we have and how they interact. Now I know how our website is linked to email campaigns and the credit card charging system. I see how people flow through the site in Google Analytics. It’s like a whole ecosystem, and I’m trying to figure out all the rules. Once I know the rules, I can make improvements – automate this process, eliminate this old thing that is just wasting space. It’s a lot of fun. I like seeing how the changes that I make impact the whole system (for better or for worse).

This discovery is the source of the website changes. I want to do even more systems thinking! I want to expand to bigger systems and more understanding. For a while, this will probably be personal projects and part-time job. I have an idea for a book that is coalescing in my mind. These projects are fun and they are building up my portfolio. One day, I hope that people will hire me as a systems thinker.

It will hit upon all my favorite things to do:

  • Deeply delve into a system through research
  • Devise tests to see how the system reacts to changes (experiments)
  • Communicate how the system works in written and graphical format
  • Innovate ways to improve the system

To some people, this may sounds pretty boring. But me, ah, I can spend all day jumping from program to program trying to understand how they are connected. In my current job, it’s usually a person connecting the programs, so it’s especially neat to interact with other humans in the system. Other people are more surprising and exciting than software. I love seeing how people interact in systems.

In short, that is why the entire website is now drastically different.

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. 🙂