What is data?


I am a data analyst and I love what I do! Ever since I started working remotely due to the COVID situation, my daughter became very interested in my work, probably just because for the first time due to the lockdown, she saw me working hours and hours every day. What do you do, mom? What does it mean to work? What is your job? What’s on your computer? What is that drawing (a graph)? What are those numbers? Why is it that color? Surely it is a familiar situation for many of you.

I realized how interesting it was and how much I enjoyed the exercise of explaining in a simple way concepts related to data analysis, especially for an audience so dear to me. And from time to time, when I had some time after work, I started writing down the explanations: what data is, how it is collected, what structured data is, how databases work, what a graph is, a few explanations about algorithms… Lots of notes everywhere!

Then I said to myself, why not to offer a story to my friends’ kids for their birthdays? I thought it would be a nice way to awaken their interest in data, through short stories written by someone who believes in the positive potential of a data-literate world. Plus it is a zero-waste gift, easy to send in digital format, and definitely convenient during COVID times!

Since I simply can’t draw, I asked an illustrator to make some images for the first story: What is data? Illustrating the stories got me thinking, what do data professionals (data analysts, data scientists, data engineers, statisticians, data visualization experts…) look like? Who do I work with and who are also data professionals but do not have as much visibility? If there is something as important as data literacy, it is to move towards a more inclusive environment in data analysis and technology in general.

Throughout my career, from college to professional life in technology, I have worked with brilliant women and men, but unfortunately not in equal numbers. That’s why I decided to call the collection of short stories about data analysis, My mom is a data analyst, and illustrate the first story with a mother and her daughter.

For my birthday, my friends and family have done a small crowdfunding to help me illustrate some other stories, and I am enormously grateful to them for that. Each story serves, at the same time, to learn about a specific topic related to data, and they illustrate different characters, with the aim of representing us all. To include everyone, I need your help as a current or future data professional! How do you describe yourself? Feel free to send me your comments, photos, descriptions or any information that you consider that will help me to illustrate the stories in the most inclusive way.

I am not a native English speaker, a teacher, a designer, or a writer, but a mom and a data analysis enthusiast, with the small goal of sparking curiosity in some children about data and realizing that we all belong and are important!

If you would like to participate, either by providing feedback, writing a short story about your field of expertise in data analysis, as an illustrator, translating to a new language or creating a new collection of stories about your own job, just send me a message via Twitter or LinkedIn, or leave a comment on this blog.

And without further delay, here you can read the English version of my first story:

The Spanish version:

The Nepali translation, courtesy of Mala Deep U.

And the Polish translation, courtesy of Zuzanna and Remigiusz Karas :

Enjoy the reading and I look forward to hearing from all of you very soon! THANKS A LOT!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Published by Aida Horaniet

Data analyst. In love with stories, mostly the ones told by the data.

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