IDCC13 Preview: Stephanie Wright

5 December, 2012

The 8th International Digital Curation Conference is just around the corner and we are anticipating great discussions about data science when our international audience gather in Amsterdam in January 2013.

In the fourth of our series of preview posts, Stephanie Wright from University of Washington Libraries, gives us her insights into some of the current issues... 

Your presentation will focus on "What is a Data Scientist?".  Are there any specific messages would you like people to take away from your talk?

Primarily that there isn’t any one definition for “data scientist”. There are different titles, different roles, different expertise and not only are data scientists identified differently within the profession but also among those we serve. This can be both challenging and beneficial but I think mostly leads to questions and confusion over the skills we have and services we can provide.

We address three areas in our call this year - Infrastructure, Intelligence and Innovation. What do you see as the most pressing challenges across these?

All three of these are so intertwined, it’s difficult to identify the most pressing challenge across them. I suppose if I had to pick, I’d say infrastructure is the most pressing challenge at the moment. We will have a difficult time expanding in the areas of intelligence and innovation without more infrastructure to support it.  

And in terms of opportunities, do you see potential in data science as a new discipline?

I don’t think of it as a new discipline, I think of it as an extension of information science, something library-folk (and others) have been studying and working in for years. Sure data has its own issues and challenges, particularly in the areas of terminology surrounding data science. This makes it difficult to even communicate the issues and challenges and therefore find resolutions.

The conference theme recognises that the term ‘data’ can be applied to all manner of content. Do you also apply such a broad definition or are you less convinced that all data are equal?

My role is to provide services across the disciplines so yes, I tend to define data as broadly as possible in order to fit the needs of all those I serve, whether they are working with data that is textual, numerical, graphic or of a format particular to a specific piece of equipment.  

You’ll undoubtedly have looked at the programme in preparation for IDCC. Which speakers / sessions are you most looking forward to?

I’m continually hearing about all these wonderful programs, projects and events taking place around data management in Europe and Australia and find myself wishing I could spend time on this side of the water to talk to folks about what they’re doing and how they did it. With that in mind, I’m looking forward to the presentations by Oxford, ANDS, and others I’ve been watching from the far side of the pond.


Stephanie's presentation entitled What is a Data Scientist? is on Day 1 of the conference, 15 January. Programme is available.

If you have not already done so, you can still book your place

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