Diary of a Data Widow

by Neil Lord

It’s been one week and three days since I became a full time Data Widow. I say full time because I’ve been a part time Data Widow since I met Neil Lord many years ago.

He’s been the same as long as I’ve known him. He gets all starry eyed when he see’s data. Locked on if you will. I can almost hear the idea spark in his brain and away he goes. In the olden days he would have been drawn into a spreadsheet, lost in a world of excel for hours. Days even. Tweaking and tinkering to try and get the numbers to bend to his will.

Then, a while back, it became Tableau – with its pretty pictures, maps and dynamic graphics. Oh the possibilities before him! Data has always been a big part of his job so he often got his fix during the 9-5, but every now and then he’d hear a stat and hound out the source of the information then while away hours exploring the things he could ascertain from his data set. Like that time he spent days trying to extract information about bats. Or mammals. Or something.

I’ve never minded – even though our house decorations are going at a snails pace and entire weekends could be lost while his head was stuck firmly in his laptop.

A few months back his calling came and he decided to run with this Tableau/data thing on the permanent. I was apprehensive – many changes were afoot – but seeing him go all doe-eyed for the love of his precious software I knew it was the right thing to do. And, it really was.

One week and three days in and I’ve had to ooooh and ahhhhh at a few more visualisations than usual. I’ve nodded in all the right places when he’s been mulling over a pie chart thingy or like the re-imagining of that The Big Bang Theory thing. What I have noticed is, and obviously I only have my own experience, that Tableau seems to have cult like properties. It draws users in, gets them hooked and creates a real desire to do more, do better and explore. Neil certainly seems to be riding the high.

I’m totally stoked to see him finally doing what he digs full time, and building on that to take things up a level with The Data School but ask me again in a few months time and I may have a very different view on life as a Data Widow then…

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