In returning to a more active presence on Twitter, I noticed a link to this blog, started years ago. A moment of chill ran down my spine as I recalled some of the topics I naively tackled so long ago, as I first dipped a toe in the very deep pool of data science. Where is the delete key?!? Why doesn’t this crap expire? But once the panic receded, a wry smirk I realized something new. There is something useful in such a timeline. An example, if you will.
When I first started to set words to paper on this blog, it was out of shear excitement. There were suddenly magical tools at my fingertips allowing me to do what was unthinkable even a few weeks before. A few lines of python, albeit very poorly written, and my laptop was mostly correctly identifying numbers written by random strangers. Who would create such a weird dataset? (Fast-forward 3 years and still half the papers at NeurIPS use MNIST as a representative baseline. I guess we’re stuck with it for a while.) Mentors encouraged me to share my experiences in real time. And so I did. Blindly, without any sort of validation of my concepts and sort of testing of my implementations, just hacking and blogging.
It was good practice. It forced me to think deeper about each step in the learning process. A way to target one piece of the larger problem and make it accessible to my future self. A way to guide myself to the next question.
Upon rediscovering these and the code associated with them I slapped my forehead in embarrassment. My first was reaction to try and wipe them from the internet. But could there be value in them? I’m far from positive, but I’m absolutely convinced they aren’t worthless. The represent a journey. Everyone starts somewhere. From there they grow, hopefully, and a career of growth springs forth.
If you look back on exploratory work from several years ago (that you have sense pursued in earnest) and it’s NOT embarrassing, then you are doing something wrong.
So feel free to rip apart the foolish things left here in posts of old, but remember everything is part of a journey, and only those journeys that come to an end prematurely are tragic.