In four short months, Data Science MD has grown from a mere idea to a 450+ member group hosting meetups around Maryland. When we were originally forming the group, one of our goals was to help create a thriving local community of data enthusiasts. In the engineering fields, including data science, the idea of an open, supportive community can be a foreign concept. Much of the data centric work done is guarded. Corporate and industry practitioners often invoke intellectual property law, while many in academia and research prefer not to share data. These restrictions, though maybe necessary, should not prevent a growing field from forming supportive communities where members can freely share their ideas.
Most individuals view a community as a collective entity such as their neighborhood, church, and school. However, for a community centered around data and science, it is often better to view the organization in terms of what benefits it provides for its members. In short, there are four fundamental benefits that a community can provide: a sense of belonging, mutual support, greater influence, and exploration. Through these benefits, we can begin to understand what constitutes a data community.
- Sense of belonging: while the data science field has experienced enormous growth over the years, the number of practitioners and enthusiasts still remains low when compared to other groups. A data community provides a venue for individuals to openly discuss their ideas, views, and projects to like-minded members.
- Mutual support: through networking, members of a data community are able to access new opportunities such as job openings, event announcements, and most importantly, other members with different skillsets. The well known data science Venn diagram demonstrates the overlap of skills necessary to be a fully competent data scientist, but not every practitioner possesses will all of these skills. With the support of the community, it is possible to connect to another member that may have the missing skill a member needs to make their own project a success.
- Greater influence: a data community has the enormous collective ability to create, share, and influence the growing data science field. With hack-a-thons, education workshops, and publishing resources, members have access to a far greater number of people than they would as individuals.
- Exploration: possibly the most important benefit to data community members is the ability to learn, share, and explore new ideas, technologies, and projects. In the age of information overload, it is extremely difficult to keep abreast of the important tools and techniques that are shaping data science. With the participation of members, a data community is able to curate the most relevant items to the group.
A community is strengthened when these benefits are amplified for its members. Though individually the Data Science MD group is beneficial, when paired with other like-minded, data-focused organizations, members are exposed to a vast amount of resources for mutual support, greater influence, and exploration. It is with this opportunity in mind, that Data Science MD is honored to now be part of Data Community DC. We know that the events, content, resources, products and services offered by Data Community DC will remain the highest-quality and continue to provide all members, including those of Data Science MD, the best opportunity to become talented data scientists.
Thank you members,