Scientists Try to Solve the Context

I am a data analyst and I have no idea what I’m doing.

Um, let me start over.

I have a library degree, but I don’t work for a library. I am a contractor who works for an office in a government agency. Over my past decade there, I’ve ended up becoming the office’s data manager.

I am not an IT specialist and I’m not a coder. I’m not a statistician, a mathematician, or a scientistician. I’m just a former cataloging librarian with a knack for organization, a fascination with spreadsheets, and a lot of enthusiasm for logistics.

My office became into being right after I started (it’s a whole story…) and as a new entity, we needed to collect data. Then we needed to make sure everyone we worked with provided data. Then we needed to analyze the data we collected. I ended up being the main point of contact at each of these steps. When it came time to renew my contract this year, my job title was changed from “[Insert Overly Descriptive Jargon Here] Contractor” to “Data Analyst Contractor.”

To be honest, I requested the change because the overly descriptive jargon didn’t actually describe what I did for a living anymore. Fortunately, everyone in my office saw it the same way.

The catch is that while “data analyst” describes what I do in my specific office, it doesn’t line up exactly with what the job description means writ large. Which brings me back to my original first sentence of this post and what I aim to accomplish with my blog.

Right now, I am learning data analysis on the fly. I have bookmarked resources and gotten all sorts of advice from all sorts of people. Now I need to extract knowledge from all of that, then distill it into my day to day work.

I realize this sound like I make gin for a living.

Anyway, when I was in grad school, I used a blog to help me wrap my head around library science and to collect my thesis research. (Ah the heady days of the biblioblogosphere.) I wasn’t writing about what I knew but instead writing about what I wanted to know. I think it helped me a lot, and I am hoping that this idea works again.

What you get out of this, I have no idea. Some links to interesting articles and references to awesome music, I guess. But for now, I won’t sweat the technique.

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