Ahhhhh November in Colorado: sunshine and cooler weather and the Rocky Mountain Data Conference! This year was the first annual event, and I found it to be a great opportunity to meet the data community.

My talk on big data for machine learning

I gave a talk on my perspective on how big data has evolved over the last decade, comparing my experience at my first job out of college working in the machine learning group at Amazon on things like recommendations engines, to my current job as the CTO of a big data startup.

My main message was that surprisingly the underlying principles of big data engineering (keep things crazy simple, avoid relational databases, things like that) have not changed, but there is a LOT more tooling to help with the job.

I also talked a lot about data ethics, which I didn’t hear covered at all at the conference, and is increasingly in the limelight (and rightfully so!). You can check out the slides here - warning that the formatting is a bit sad (haven’t quite mastered the art of converting reveal.js presentations into pdf, and none of the memes are showing up).

Lesson learned: talk titles are important

There were three tracks at the conference, and for some unfortunate reason, my talk conflicted with two well-titled talks that took a lot of my audience. One of them was called something like Why Your Data Scientist Hates You which was pretty provocative.

This is a note to self to title my talks in more fun ways to attract a larger audience. Being too literal may not attract as large of an audience, especially when my talk sounds so generic (though I felt my talk was fun and non-generic in actual content). Time to have my talk title be as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside, so to speak :D.

I’m also planning on creating a talk exclusively on the data ethics portion of this one (let me know if you want a speaker for anything!)

More on the conference

I really enjoyed this event, and I know a huge amount of work went into it by the conference organizers (thank you!). For me the main reason to attend was the hallway track, and I wish there had been more social time during the day (not just after hours when I usually need to head home to pick up my kids).