Showing posts from October, 2012

GHC12: Tempering the Impostor Syndrome by Managing the Fear of Failure

As I walked into this session led by Francine Gordon (F Gordon Group) and Sabina Nawaz (Sabina Nawaz Consulting), I was a little surprised. Instead of rows of chairs facing the front, it looked like we were about to sit down to an organized lunch. 


On the tables were worksheets for attendees to fill out, looking something like this:

If you’ve filled out any psychological survey, there’s a high probability that you’ve ranked statements like the ones that were on this sheet, including:

I can give the impression that I am more competent than I really amAt times I feel my success has been due to some kind of luck
Or, my favorites:

Sometimes I’m afraid others will discover how much knowledge or ability I really lackIf I receive a great deal of praise and recognition for something I’ve accomplished, I tend to discount the importance of what I’ve done.
Opening Remarks

As we scrambled for pens and glanced furtively around to make sure we weren’t posing as impostors, the session started. Fr…

How the Boston Python user group grew from 0 to 15% women and over 1800 members

This session focused on how to build diversity within user groups, told through Jessica McKellar’s experience with the Boston Python User Group. She gives compelling reasons for wanting diversity within these groups, including the development of the group as a community and growing the size and leadership of the community.


Jessica set out with the goal to increase the number of women participating by 15%, to showcase women engineers, and to start a movement. As an aside, I love the “start a movement” goal. While we can focus on incremental change and bettering our local environment, we shouldn’t sell our goals short! Aim for your actions to affect big change.


The structure that Jessica et al created to affect the change she wanted was fairly straightforward -- a 1.5 day long workshop for beginners. And when she said beginners, she meant it. There were absolutely no prerequisites: no machine configurations, no programming experience, nothing. Interactive lectures, a communa…

Are We ready for the Next On-Ramp: Big Data, Analytic, and Human-Centric Computing (another perspective)

I was really excited for this particular session, as big data an area that people are increasingly tackling, with fascinating results. The panelists included Janet Ramey who is a Senior Director at Cisco, Moira Burke who is a data scientist at Facebook, and Eva K. Lee who holds a professorship at Georgia Tech. Monica Martinez-Canales, a Principal Engineer at Intel, hosted the panel.

We started with a broad overview of that question everyone’s asking: what is big data anyway?

The reason that everyone’s asking the question is because people are still trying to figure it out for themselves (see Cloud Computing). Answers ranged from “it might not actually be that big” to “collections of data over 100 terabytes” to “data that comes from two or more sources” to “anything that doesn’t fit on the servers.” However, the conclusion that this session made is that big data is the intersection of variety, volume, value, and velocity, with viscosity (stickiness) and variability (inherent uncertainty)…