Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"I am a hopeless data junkie..."

At the Delft meeting this week I've been using a handheld recorder to help take notes. It's an Olympus WS-100. It is surprising how good the quality is in a quiet environment... But if you are in a big room and there is construction going on next door, you mostly get a whomping bass sound.

When I did interviews for my Master's Thesis 10 years ago, the sound quality on cassettes was terrible. During transcription, I would have to turn my stereo up to 11 just to hear anything, but then the interviewee would lean forward and laugh. I would get startled and throw off the headphones and the cat would jump out the window.

I am still working out the best (and nicest) way of using notes from interviews. I think I can probably use my own voice at a public meeting. I have been told it's very American to self-cite (quote yourself).

So below is something I said in the closing session of the meeting this week. This was a meeting of scientists interested in hydrologic forecasting, setting up a forecasting inter-comparison/competition and we were talking about how to get more people involved with the group. It is my first try in a decade at transcribing. I put in [braces] where I tried to use a clearer word without changing the meaning. I also say the gist of what the moderator said without using his words.

Me: I would say I have three motivations [for coming to this meeting]. One is, I'm a hopeless data junkie. I'll admit it, I can never get enough. I'm always looking for data. I collect data and don't use it. It's a problem, I admit it, I'm sorry. If there was a support group [group laughter] that'd be great. If someone was to put [a dataset of old weather model forecasts on the web], I'd throw my mother from a train to get that.

Moderator says that data is available.

Me: If I come to [meetings] like this, maybe I can get [data] like that....[I also have data I can share with others].

Me: Number two [motivation] is reusable tools. [I don't want to rewrite software that others have already done]. [Making your tools available for this competition] is almost like branding, getting [me] hooked, maybe [I'll use your software] in the future.

Me: Third [motivation] is just answers to "what actually works"? We have all these techniques, nobody knows which one is better than any others or are they all pretty much the same? I have no pride in [the methods] I've created. If I come out worst, I'm happy to abandon it....

Moderator said, you're not so noble, you just enjoy being here [group laughter].

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