In my course on Statistical Communication and Graphics, each class had a special guest star who would answer questions on his or her area of expertise. These were not “guest lectures”—there were specific things I wanted the students to learn in this course, it wasn’t the kind of seminar where they just kick back each week and listen—rather, they were discussions, typically around 20 minutes long, facilitated by the outside expert.
One thing that struck me about these discussions was how fun they were, and how various interesting and unexpected things came up in our conversations.
And that made me think—Hey, we should do a podcast! I can be the host and have conversations with these guests, one at a time, and then release these as (free) 15-minute podcasts. How awesome! The only challenge is to keep them lively. Without a roomful of students, a recorded conversation between two people could get stilted.
Also we need a title for the series. “Statistics Podcast” is pretty boring. “Statcast”? The topics we’ve had so far have been focused on statistical communication, but once we go through that, we could cover other statistical areas as well.
And then there’s the technical details: how to actually set up a podcast, also maybe it needs to be edited a bit?
So here’s what I’m needing from you:
– A title for the podcast series.
– Advice on production and distribution.
Our starting lineup
Here are some of the visitors we’ve had in our course so far. I’d plan to start with them, since I’ve already had good conversations with them.
I list the topic corresponding to each visitor, but the actual conversations ranged widely.
Thomas Basbøll, Writing Consultant, Copenhagen Business School (topic: Telling a story)
Howard Wainer, Distinguished Research Scientist, National Board of Medical Examiners (topic: Principles of statistical graphics, although the actual discussion ended up being all about educational testing, because that’s what the students’ questions were about)
Deborah Nolan, Professor of Statistics, University of California (topic: Student activities and projects)
Jessica Watkins, Department of Education, Tufts University (topic: Facilitating class participation)
Justin Phillips, Professor of Political Science, Columbia University (topic: Classroom teaching)
Beth Chance, Professor of Statistics, California Polytechnic State University (topic: Preparing and evaluating a class)
Amanda Cox, Graphics Editor, New York Times (topic: Graphing data: what to do)
Jessica Hullman, Assistant Professor of Information Visualization, University of Washington (topic: Graphing data: what works)
Kaiser Fung, Senior Data Advisor, Vimeo (topic: Statistical reporting)
Elke Weber, Professor of Psychology and Management, Columbia University (topic: Communicating variation and uncertainty)
Eric Johnson, Professor of Psychology and Management, Columbia University (topic: Communicating variation and uncertainty)
Cynthia Rudin, Associate Professor of Statistics, MIT (topic: Understanding fitted models)
Kenny Shirley, Principal Inventive Scientist, Statistics Research Department, AT&T Laboratories (topic: Understanding fitted models)
Tom Wood, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Ohio State University (topic: Displaying fitted models)
Elizabeth Tipton, Assistant Professor of Applied Statistics, Teachers College, Columbia University (topic: Displaying fitted models)
Brad Paley, Principal, Digital Image Design Incorporated (topic: Giving a presentation)
Jared Lander, statistical consultant and author of R for Everyone (topic: Teaching in a non-academic environment)
Jonah Gabry, Researcher, Department of Statistics, Department of Political Science, and Population Research Center, Columbia University (topic: Dynamic graphics)
Martin Wattenberg, Data Visualization, Google (topic: Dynamic graphics)
Hadley Wickham, Chief Scientist, RStudio (topic: Dynamic graphics)
David Rindskopf, Professor of Educational Psychology, City University of New York (topic: Consulting)
Shira Mitchell, Postdoctoral Researcher, Earth Institute, Columbia University (topic: Collaboration)
Katherine Button, Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Bath (topic: Communication and its impact on science)
Jenny Davidson, Professor of English, Columbia University (topic: Writing for a technical audience)
Rachel Schutt, Senior Vice President of Data Science, News Corporation (topic: Communication with a non-technical audience)
Leslie McCall, Professor of Sociology, Northwestern University (topic: Social research and policy)
Yair Ghitza, Senior Scientist, Catalist (topic: Data processing)
Bob Carpenter, Research Scientist, Department of Statistics, Columbia University (topic: Programming)
P.S. Lots of suggested titles in comments. My favorite title so far: Learning from Numbers.
P.P.S. I asked Sharad if he could come up with any names for the podcast and he sent me these:
In the Noise
I’ll have to nix the first suggestion as it’s a bit too accurate a description of the ethnic composition of myself and our guest stars. The third suggestion is pretty good but it’s almost a bit too slick. After all, we’re not the signal, we’re just a signal. I’m still leaning toward Learning from Numbers.