The Intimidating World of Data Science

The latest buzzword in the field of technology is data science. Everyone is talking about it, everyone wants to be a data scientist and apparently, it pays big bucks. To describe it in brief, data science is the science of data which includes generating insights from large chunks of data termed as Big Data (another popular buzzword in the technical community). This definition of data science leaves us with a lot of questions. What is this data that we are analyzing? What are the insights? Who asked for these insights? What problems will these insights help us solve? The list goes on.

These questions can be quite a lot to take in, especially for someone who is new to the world of data science or technology in general. Yet, there are thousands of success stories on the internet about people transitioning their careers to data science. Most of these stories seem glorious and their journey seems like a cake-walk. You may find some stories that start with something like “I woke up one day and I wanted to be a Data Scientist, so I went onto the internet and voila!”. Most of these stories are over-simplified and far from reality.

In reality, there is a vast array of resources out there, but honestly, it’s a rabbit-hole. You don’t know where to start from and even if you do, you have no clue where to go from there. However, to keep things in perspective, data science is indeed a relatively new field and there is still a mountain of effort that needs to be made to make the literature of data science accessible to beginners.

In India, there is a huge absence of institutions that formally teach courses on data science as an independent masters or bachelors field. Although there are many resources on the internet at present such as famous online-education sites like Coursera and Udemy that offer fairly good courses in data science, there is still lack of a tentative roadmap that a fresher can follow in order to scale the learning curve. This leaves the world of data science to be the territory of only a few resilient geeks who have the patience to sit in front of the computer for hours at end and spend their weekends on Stack Overflow, pulling their hair out of their heads.

Many professionals from the field itself have come up with other narratives which make it clear that it is not as simple as it seems. Some of them even grieve about how the work of professional data scientists is often reduced to data warehousing and retrieval. Many of them are stuck in organizations that do not have the required equipment and also don’t know how to support a data science team thus leaving them frustrated with their jobs.

Organizations are talking about data science and are also very keen on incorporating various data science practices into the day-to-day decision making that happens in their management. However, there isn’t enough methodology that is widely available for them to be able to utilize data science the way they want to. Only the elite few, especially those that have in-house technical expertise have been able to unleash the potential of data science. For others, it is a relatively far-off dream to be able to afford state-of-the-art data science practices and even if they do, it is more distant to learn how to use them.

To conclude, the world of data science is still intimidating and inaccessible to many organizations and individuals. However, the progress being made is fast-paced. Although tough, learning data science isn’t impossible. There are thousands of success stories on the internet to vouch for that. In fact, it is also a perfect example of how the internet is increasingly becoming the primary source of learning for millions of users. Data science may become one of the biggest fields that are primarily filled with self-taught professionals. We owe this to the thousands of internet resources and communities that help freshers develop their skills and also assist them through the crucial steps of their learning curve. It is the first of many futuristic skills that are taught to us primarily through the internet. Now that is a true revolution in the way we learn and interact with technology!

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