On May 21 st, Astrid Countee and I presented at the 2021 Response-ability Conference. We discussed strategies for leveraging data science and anthropology in the tech sector to help address societal issues. The Response-ability’s overall goal was to explore how anthropologists and software specialists in the tech sector to understand and tackle social issues.

Here is an abstract for Astrid’s and my talk:

Title: Data Scientist Anthropologists as an Example of How to Be an Anthropologist in the Tech World

Abstract: As both an anthropologists and data scientists, we will examine strategies for leveraging both in the tech sector to…

Many people have admirably sought to learn data science, data analytics, a programming language, or some other data or programming skill in order to develop themselves professionally and/or seek a new career path. Excitingly, learning such skills has become significantly easier to do online. But this online learning can also foster unrealistic understandings of what learning one of these skills entails, since it can remove prospective learners from the physical community of experts who help introduce prospective learners to the expectations of that field.

The goal of this article is to help rectify that by explaining the basic steps typically…

Picture from geralt

Aspiring data scientists will frequently ask me for recommendations about the best way to learn data science. Should they try a bootcamp or enroll in an online data science course, or any of the myriad options out there?

In the last several years, we have seen the development of many different types of educational programs that teach data science, ranging from free online tutorials to bootcamps to advanced degrees at universities, and the pandemic has seemed to have fostered the establishment of even more programs to meet the increased demand for remote learning. …

Here was a project I completed for a graduate course in Artificial Intelligence I took at the University of Memphis in the spring of 2019. For the project, I analyzed whether part of speech evaluation could modulate Markov Chain-based next word predictors. In particular, I developed and tested two different strategies for incorporating part of speech predictions, which I termed excluder and multiplier. The multiplier method performed better than the excluder and matched the performance of the control. Hopefully, this is a helpful exploration into ways to use lexical information to improve next word predictors.

Photo Credit: Brett Jordan from https://unsplash.com/photos/EvJ7uvqQb3E

Originally published at https://ethno-data.com on March 4, 2021.

I wrote this essay for my midterm for a course I took on conducting program evaluation as an anthropologist taught by Dr. Michael Duke at the University of Memphis Anthropology Master’s program. In it, I synthesize Donna Mertens’s discussion of employing mixed methods research for program evaluation work in her book, Mixed Methods Design in Evaluation, as a way to present the need for what I call methodological complementarianism.

Methodological complementarianism involves complementing those on the team one is working with by advancing for the complementary perspectives that the team needs. When conducting transdisciplinary work as applied anthropologists, instead of…

Here is a presentation I gave at the 2018 Annual Conference of the American Society for Cybernetics. I won the Heinz von Foerster Award for the innovative research.

I hope you enjoy.

  1. You ask at least 500 follow-up questions when your supervisor gives you a project to really understand the full context.
  2. You have a prepared spiel about how what you studied was different than digging up Mayan artifacts (unless that happened to be what you did).
  3. You constantly ask people how they feel when completing a task or what they think of the process.
  4. You try to reimagine and redesign any object or process that your organization will let you get your hands on.
  5. You have critiqued every organization that has hired you.
  6. You have the strangest knick-knacks on your desk…
Picture from Work With Island

Interviewing for a data science role can be a daunting task, especially for those new to the field. I have lost count of the number of data science interviews I have had over the years, but here are the four most common questions I have encountered and strategies for preparing for each. Prepping for these questions is a great opportunity to develop your story thesis, the most important part of any data science interview.

Most Common Data Science Questions:

1) Tell me about yourself.

2) Describe a data science job you have worked on.

3) What kind of experience do…

Here (ethno-data.com/business-applied-anthropologists-paper/) is a research paper I wrote for a master’s course on Applied Anthropology at the University of Memphis. The overall master’s program sought to train students in applied anthropology, and the goal of this course was to teach the foundations of what applied anthropology is, in contrast to other types of anthropology.

Even though I found the course interesting, its curriculum lacked the readings and perspectives of applied anthropologists in the business world. As I discuss in the paper, statistically speaking, a significant number of applied anthropologists (and a University of Memphis’s applied anthropology program alum) work in…

Stephen Paff

I am a data scientist and ethnographer passionate about integrating of these two fields in professional settings. For more details, see https://ethno-data.com.

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