My now page for February 2021

4 minute read

Inspired by Derek Siver’s suggestion on keeping a “now page” updated, I have decided I will do one a month. The now page will stay in the navigation above and will be transformed into a post once the month switches, leaving room for the next month’s one. This way it’ll be useful to me to have a better idea of things I do and get interested in, and their progress; I’ll try to be disciplined with this process. I’ve only decided to do this now, it is February, because I’ve only thought about it (once I discovered Derek’s site), so I am writing down the January version in retrospective. So here’s what I’ve been up to in January 2021.

Book-writing

The biggest thing this month is framing a bit better what I’m writing: a book about entering data science as a profession and working in the field. I’ve done a few drafts already (some are published here on the blog) and have started a good process of draft-creation, feedback-gathering and ideas-sharing (and I’ll stop with the hyphens now). I’m quite happy with where I’ve got to so far.

Speaking of data science, I have also started a collaboration with an old colleague and friend: we’ve started thinking together about the role of data science and how it applies, specifically in reference to the relation between practitioners and business decision-makers. This was unexpected but I’m feeling more and more that contributing in this area (the “meta” side of data science) interests me a lot.

Reading & watching

I’m still on “How democracies die” and “Jew-ish” which I started last month. No new books have been added to the “currently reading” pile (a few have been added to the wishlist). I bought “100 ways to improve your writing” by G Provost though, with the idea of using it to try getting better at writing in general.

I’ve been watching “Unbelievable” on Netflix, which I had put aside for a long time despite recommendations, due to its dark theme. It’s very good, very well made and I’m glad I watched it. It also made me think about how crime-fighting agencies (the police in all its forms) can be affected by outdated technological methods and lack of communication/data-sharing between stations, something that sensibly slows down the process of tackling crime, lets mistakes and misunderstandings happen. I wish I could contribute to making this better, I am fascinated by the idea of using data and tech skills (and many times relatively simple ones) to aid the processes of public bodies, from which we all benefit. Something I’m thinking about.

Computer Vision and NLP

I’m keeping doing many interesting things with images and texts, mainly on using some of the newest techniques. Very interesting.

Flat-furnishing

We’re waiting for IKEA to bring in stock some of the items for a hallway piece we want, no luck so far. We have alternatives but they’re less interesting - we’ll stick to the IKEA idea for a few more days and then take a call should things not get back in stock. Other than that, it’s coming to the phase of useless items (decorative ones), so will be good fun.

In all this, I’ve found again my very precious notebooks with data drawings and some recipes, together with my BBC Good Food old magazines (for my recipe crafty cut-and-paste notebooks). I thought I had lost them in the move, though that seemed insane. They were safely staying under the partner’s driving pedals (for gaming), very hidden in the mess that still some parts of the house are. I was elated when I discovered them (while cleaning).

Managing and learning

I am learning and reading a lot about managing. And I am enjoying doing it. I am in contact with people more expert than I am at this so it’s a great idea-sharing process.

Health & fitness

I currently have an annoying problem with my ear so not at the best, but generally form is good. Have not run in ages so will aim at resuming soon as temperatures get slightly warmer, but I’m doing a bunch of strength and yoga classes so I feel quite good.

Mental health & feelings

There’s a general feeling of missing home (Italy). I can’t help it and can’t do anything about it (we cannot travel where we are due to the COVID situation) so it’s just a bit hard but all will get better soon, I’m sure. It is also the British wintery grey sky that has been over my head for a long time now so this is normally the time of the year where I’m feeling a bit blue. But a few sunny days are starting to appear - spring will be great.

Data-drawing and general drawing

I’ve not done a data card (my data vizzing by hand, here) in a long time but I am currently working on one, it is on my series on climate change. The moving flat has taken most of January’s energy, alongside starting to write, so this has slipped a bit. Resuming it!

I have spoken at the Edinburgh DataViz meetup at the end of the month, and it’s been awesome fun. As I said many times I love speaking in public and I think the talk has been very well perceived. I’m also getting pushed about considering to publish my data cards as a book/booklet, so I will speak to some people who can advise (as this would be a special type of publication - graphics, I need to understand a few things).

Introspection

The end of the month has been quite hard in terms of mental health with anxiety, stress and a general feeling of being a bit void. It’s been due to many factors. But this has allowed/forced me to think about many things though: what do I want to do, where do I want to go, which will hopefully take some more shape next month.

We’ll see what March brings.

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