The Networks of Life

Science is always in search of the fundamental truths that can explain the different phenomena that form our universe. This search for the fundamental base truths is no more emphasized than in the field of Mathematics and Physics, where mathematicians and physicists are on a path to quantify, explain, and analyze the rules that guide the universe. As a species, humans are quite arrogant when it comes to our own knowledge and capabilities as we’ve been the “dominant” intellectual species for a very long time.

Events are never isolated

Events are never isolated Our environment and how we interact with it helps shape its immediate future. This includes the human interaction each person nurtures with other people throughout a lifetime. Existing physical, economic, social, and emotional conditions that an individual is subjected to early in life are usually the basis for his or her thought processes and mechanisms to cope and react to various stimuli. By further exposing oneself to other individuals outside the usual circles, and by keeping a receptive mindset, can we expect to validate or discard ideas that eventually become part of the values system.

You Know that I Know that they Know

If someone is familiar with Clifton Strengths finder, then they have probably heard of the strength Connectedness. From what I can remember, the point is that every event is about a previous event. People with this strength can, therefore, leverage it by bringing people together or seeing the continuity of their strategy down the line. I will admit that I didn’t want to merit it. Sometimes, things just happen randomly. However, what if it isn’t?

Reflection on Connected: The Power of Six Degrees

If I could put the things that I have realized after watching the documentary in one phrase, I would say – it’s amazing how the world is much smaller than we think. For so long, we humans think that we are individuals with the capacity and ability to think on our own. While this may be true, this notion led us to look more inwards rather than outwards. With the concept of individualism heavily buried in our minds, many communities see themselves as detached from the outside world.

Six Degrees Now, Less Degrees Later, Perhaps More Degrees Tomorrow

It is astonishing how the existence of networks could be so prevalent, and yet so obscure from people’s awareness for such a long time. Indeed, perhaps we live in a great time as the explosion of data and computational power paved way for a deeper look into the connectedness of things and how such networks could allow us to make sense of how the world works. I think the time is ripe for network science to be fleshed out and mature, given how the connections brought about by rapid travel and communications extremely shrunk the world in the 21st century.

The World as I See It

Our perception of the world is limited by our current understanding, i.e. the models and theories that explain and describe the fundamental behaviors and characteristics. With every new model or theory, we step outside of this worldview, capturing a bigger perspective from our original ones. In network theory, one of the famous models before Strogatz and Barabasi’s is the random graphs by Erdos and Renyi in 1959. It posits that in a system, the nature of the interaction of two parts in the system is random.

We are communicators speaking through the language of data.

The visualization in “data visualization” does not actually refer to how visually appealing your figure or chart is, but in how well it enables others to visualize the data you are trying to communicate. At the end of the day, we are communicators speaking through the language of data, and most of the time, our best vehicle for our chosen language is in the visualizations that we produce.

Good stories inspire.

The most memorable and most influential people in one’s life are the good storytellers. What we normally consider as the most memorable teachers in our younger years were the ones who connected with you and told the best stories. Such is the same takeaway from this course as I begin my journey in data science. This course will hopefully remind me that at the end of all the technical, mathematical, analytical work that one will do, and all the lines of code that will be written, you have to tell a good story. Good stories will inspire you. Good stories will call people to action. The stories told by a person help perpetuate the influence of that person long beyond the time the story is told.

I have definitely learned a life skill

'Soft skills' like visualization and storytelling are oftentimes not being given the same attention as the technical skills; but, if you think about it, your visualization and how you present your findings in the language of your stakeholders **is the only part of your analysis that your audience ever sees**. To aspiring data scientists and even professionals, may we all not suffer from the pain of our analysis being neglected just because we failed to communicate it well.

Practice, Practice, Practice

That is the main idea of the class. Facts are concrete and undeniable but it is faster to grasp the concept of the data used if it is dressed up with graphs and other visualizations. I learned some tricks into making those pretty pictures from the class. More importantly, the course makes you realize that it isn’t enough to just have something to look at. What’s more important is having a flow that guides the audience on a path on whatto look at and count as important. In the class, those tricks and tips were introduced and the help it gives shouldn’t be underestimated.