Letters from a young statistician

Occasionally, I have thoughts that I can't fit into a 144-character tweet, and I need somewhere to put them. This is that place! I'm learning Jekyll as I go, so please bear with any bugs, and email me if you see something wrong.

Guidelines I follow when giving talks

As with everything in life, there are no hard-and-fast rules for giving talks. But, I have a number of conventions I have developed over the years that I think make for clear(er) presentations. If you look at talks I have given you will see many of these things in practice. I started writing up some of these conventions for my Data Communication course, but realized there might be broader interest, so I’m making it a blog post.

Deleting Facebook

I recently took the plunge and deleted my Facebook account. This was a big decision for me, and I know other people are thinking about doing the same. So, I want to detail why I decided to delete my account, how I prepared to do it while also saving my data, and the way I’ve felt since I took the plunge.

Key Attributes of a Modern Statistical Computing Tool

A few weeks ago, I tweeted that the first paper to come out of my dissertation was published. I got my PhD in 2015, and it’s now 2019. That means I’ve been thinking about this work for more than four years (in fact, it’s probably closer to seven!).

If you want to read the paper, it’s now published in Volume 73, Issue 4 of The American Statistician. I was given 100 free e-prints, which are available until they run out here. A pre-print of this paper is also available on the arXiv if you want a non-paywalled version.

A tidy dress

That’s right ya’ll, I made myself a R hex logo dress!

Wikipedia in the classroom: Gender, argh

The data journalism course I’m teaching this semester is a new offering for me. I may write up more of my reflections later, but for now I wanted to get some thoughts down about the experience of using Wikipedia as a pedagogical tool. At this point, I feel like it was too real-world of an experience for the class, and I inadvertently exposed my students to some gendered bias.

Dagstuhl reflections

Over the last 10 days, I had the pleasure of attending rstudio::conf and the Dagstuhl seminar on Evidence about Programmers for Programming Language Design. At rstudio::conf, I taught a two-day workshop on Intro to R & RStudio, and at the Dagstuhl I mostly thought about exposing novices to programming in scientific contexts. So, there was a lot of overlap.

More guys

One incidental piece of the Dagstuhl is I thought more about the use of the term “guys.” While we were going around and doing our initial 3-minute introductions, I heard a lot of uses of “guys” that rubbed me the wrong way, so when I introduced myself I asked people to think about their gendered word choices throughout the seminar.

I regret doing this, because I think it marked me as someone who cares mainly about gender issues (I was there for the PL design stuff!) and I don’t think anyone really understood my point. People did become more aware of when they were saying it (and we used “squirrels!” as an interjection when someone did it), but not in a way that fostered inclusiveness. I’ll try to outline my personal opinion on the term here.

Scientists Programming

At the Dagstuhl seminar, Andreas Stefik asked me to speak about “Scientists Programming.” I’m not sure whether he did this on purpose, but by assigning people their talk titles, he drew us a little outside our comfort zone and got us to think more deeply. “Scientists Programming” wasn’t a talk that I had in my pocket, and wasn’t what I would have proposed, but it was fun to pull together. It made me realize that scientists programming is actually one of my primary interests, although I’ve never written that anywhere before. Felienne wrote up a nice summary of my talk, but I wanted to write down some thoughts of my own.

R syntax comparison

For my rstudio::conf working, Intro to R & RStudio, I finally finished my cheatsheet on R syntaxes. I’ve been working on this for at least a year (😱 ), so I’m glad to see it out in the wild.

When I posted the cheatsheet online, I got some critical feedback, which I would like to address in the form of a FAQ.

On microaggressions

I was glad to see Karl Broman’s blog post on a troubling conference talk. In the post, Karl describes how the speaker repeatedly used the word “guys” to describe people involved in statistics, and how he and Hadley Wickham reached out to him in an effort to get him to change his ways.

If you were in the room during the talk, I’m sure the experience is still viscerally available to you, but for those who were not, I think Karl’s post falls far short of the necessary description to underscore the problem. As I said in a recent tweet, it’s hard to convey in words how icky the talk was. But, I’m going to make an attempt.