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My Jouney Into Data Science

I changed my declared major six times in college. I was originally admitted as a history major. Thereafter, I declared business, integrated physiology, computer science, and then anthropology. I finally decided to double major in Anthropology and Information Science. In May, I will graduate with both a B.A. in Anthropology from the College of Arts and Sciences and a B.S. in Information Science from the College of Media, Communication, and Information.

As I have discussed my college experience with others, people often say that Anthropology and Information Science are an interesting combination because they can be perceived as total opposites. As I approach graduation, I have been reflecting, and I actually couldn’t disagree more.

Anthropology and Information Science are looking at the same “problems” just through different lenses and skillsets.

Anthropology at it’s most basic level is the study of humans. Whether it’s studying humans from a cultural, physical, evolutionary, or archeological perspective, it’s still studying humans.

On the other hand, Data Science is defined as “an interdisciplinary field of scientific methods, processes, and systems to extract knowledge or insights from data in various forms, either structured or unstructured”. To the layman, the definition is very technical. However, traces of data are usually created by and or are representations of some sort of human activity.

Both Anthropology and Data Science are simply studying humans and their activities, both at the micro and macro level.

I love Data Science because it is my attempt to study humans in a more modern and futuristic context.

From my perspective, science is really about trying to understand the world. Given I have always been fascinated with our species, I’ve wanted to gain the skills and bodies of knowledge required to understand us at a deeper level.

Am I an anthropologist? Yes. Am I data scientist? Yes. Am I a scientist? Yes. As if these bodies of knowledge somehow create such different lines of thought? As if network analysis and cultural anthropology are all that different from one another. As if coding in python or writing an ethnography are that different. Aren’t both these mediums just trying to come to some deeper understanding of humans and the world around us?

I have enormous respect for the two disciplines and acknowledge that in many ways they are very different from one another. This is simply my story, my experience, and my perspective on how these two disciplines have affected me and my worldview.

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