25 March 2011

Shape Shifting

One thing that I really like about O'Reilly books is the Rep-Kover binding; the original better than the current, however.  I find that most computer texts are near interchangeable with respect to content.  It's nearly always marginal, so what matters is ease of use.  For that, Rep-Kover is better than current "hardcover" bindings.  What I tend to dislike about O'Reilly is their (his?) incessant need to create "new" memes in the computing world.  Web 2.0 is, I think, the first; certainly the most infamous so far.

The last few months have seen the aborning of another: Data Science.  This one is even worse, in that it seeks to dumb down a perfectly legitimate pair of professions; statistician and operations researcher.  Long ago, I got involved in ISO-9000 certification, which was another early attempt to dumb down those professions (these days it's Six Sigma, which I had the pleasure to mentor at CSC).  It irritated me then, too.  It's of a piece with DIY neurosurgery, although not as directly deadly.

Yesterday's Forbes on-line version published a story about this newfangled profession, in the context of EMC.  Regular readers may remember that STEC, gorilla of the Enterprise SSD jungle, first touted, then crashed, on its relationship to EMC.  The article whispers that STEC, or whoever is currently supplying, is and will do well.

What's most bothersome about this meme is, as many others have remarked, both math stats and ORs do inferential stats, and inferential stats is based on the math of sampling and inference.  The fact is, one needn't have much training to calculate the parameters of populations.  Fact is, math stats and ORs don't even refer to these numbers as statistics, because they aren't.  It is exactly the same as baseball stats; they aren't stats, just numbers.  But, of course, the meme-sters once again wish to wrap themselves in the blanky of higher math. 

On the other hand, stats as a profession and work product is more interesting than computers.  Even databases, by golly.  May be I'll try to parlay both; the article says that such folks (humble self qualifies) are in demand. 

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