Tales from the R Side

Credit: 'R' by Lorenzo Lorenzi (1772-1850)

Credit: ‘R’ by Lorenzo Lorenzi (1772-1850)

It appears there’s been a little lull on this page and it’s been like that for a good reason. I suddenly found myself caught smack in the middle of doing a course on C++, trying to make progress as I understudy Hadley Wickham via his book, Advanced R, and a Data Science course from Columbia University. I really didn’t have much of a holiday!

Why I thought this was worth sharing is because I am hoping – really hoping – that some of my colleagues and compatriots would consider channelling some of their energies in this direction. I remember vividly how, in the late 90s, I tried to convince fellow doctors to join me in attending FREE computer classes, all to no avail. So, to see the health sector lagging behind in the application of ICTs in my country is not at all surprising. I don’t know, but I have this feeling that this area of knowledge – data science – is going to be very important in the next 5 – 10 years.

First, we’re in the middle of a ‘data boom’. Societies are now literally inundated with data and humans practically littering the data-sphere with their numbers – the proverbial 1s and 0s. This is something we cannot ignore, whether we are job-seekers or entrepreneurs.

Secondly, whether you like it or not, somebody somewhere is taking your data, storing it and using it for something. The prospect of not being able to swim when the world is certain to be flooded, is indeed a grim one.

Thirdly, some of us have this affinity for numbers but don’t really know how to translate this into something practical, something real! Well, welcome to the age of ‘data products’, where you’re either buying or you’re selling. Period.

There are a few more things to say on this but I’m yet to wrap my mind around it. Frankly, the whole thing is dizzying and the speed at which the world is going with this is scary. Many of us should be determined not to be left behind.

So, while I’m schlepping C++ syntax, or trying to figure out the rules that govern R functions (lazy evaluation really stumped me for a bit), I can already see some interesting times ahead of us.

Yes, I think I should go and watch a movie now…

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