Monday, July 31, 2006

At the beginning of forever

Somebody asked me how long I've been doing analytics and I answered "seems like forever." And late nights when I'm wrestling with WebTrends it REALLY seems like forever.

In truth, I've been doing analytics of one kind or another since I was quite small. I firmly believed that if I could just keep good enough records of the race results (in the Newark Star Ledger that my dad brought home every night), I could eventually predict the winners and parlay my allowance into early retirement (before age 10, I was hoping). Seemed simple enough. About a month later I had a stack of carefully printed index cards, one per horse. Quite a large stack. Not a single card in that stack had more than one entry on it. It started to dawn on me that the population of race nags was possibly infinite and that the Belmont track was a very tiny sample indeed. My first statistics concepts.

Ever the optimist, I focused on the good news --- there were a lot more beautiful horses in the world than I thought.

So here I am, still thinking that the answer is keeping track (pun intended). To the packs of index cards I've added a Ph.D., a lot of statistics training that never gets used in the business world, some really nifty past jobs and awesomely smart past co-workers, and the Internet .... where I can collect the equivalent of that pile of index cards in about .005 seconds. Ever the optimist, I say, How cool is that.