notebook(Complete Table of Contents here: http://aka.ms/backyarddatascience)

I mentioned in my previous post that I’m learning to work as an “Amateur Data Scientist”, and I’m sharing my learning here on this site. I’m formatting my entries as a series of Field Notes, in the (more or less) formal sense. I’m taking the information I have found here: http://instruct.uwo.ca/biology/320y/fj.html and fitting that into the style for learning the discipline of Data Science.

A Field Journal, or Field Notebook, is often used in the domain of biology. While we’ll be studying biological data from time to time in our journey, the format isn’t a 1:1 fit for the domain of computer science. Even so, I’ll stretch the format a bit for us to use.

So this is how you’ll see the entries on this site:

WhatWhyHowWhat, Why, How

This type of entry will most often explain a tool or process. For instance, I’ll cover the R data processing programming language and use those headings: What it is, Why you would use it, and How it works.


A Journal entry is a narrative diary of daily operations, including the environment the scientist works in. These entries explain a practical application of Data Science, with as much as I’m allowed to reveal about the situation I’m in when I document it. I don’t use company or organization names in any case, and most often I’ll “fuzz” the data and details so that I don’t betray a confidence, but I will explain some real-world examples of how I put what I learn to good use.

speciesSpecies Accounts

This type of entry in biology is a running list of notes of observations of selected species. Although I could make some pithy comment about co-workers or other folks, I’ll resist that urge and use this type of entry to talk about the various products and technologies in a listing fashion. This is meant to change, and yet show history as well. For instance, I’ll explain the ecostructure of “Big Data” tools, or perhaps the lineage of a technology for processing statistics. I will also include references to statistics itself, showing the “families” of calculations you can use to solve various problems.


A Catalog entry in biology is a systematic and sequential list with reference numbers. In this site I’ll use this type of entry to show a list of links to various subjects, where you can find more about them, and so on.

All of these entries will be “living” – meaning I will endeavor to go back and update them as the information changes. I could use your help with that – add a comment when you find new or interesting information.

I’ll be rather regular with this blog, updating it at least once a month, and probably much more often – especially at the beginning. Comments, questions and thoughts are always welcomed.