E-Chat Wednesday: Celebrating Statistics in 2013

Number crunchers and data gurus, get ready to celebrate, because 2013 is your year -- the International Year of Statistics, that is.

Five statistical societies, including the American Statistical Association (ASA), led the creation of the International Year of Statistics, or Statistics2013, a "worldwide celebration and recognition of the contributions of statistical science." Given the statistical inclinations -- if not professions -- of the AllAnalytics.com community, we'd like to help get the party started.

Gearing up for the year, ASA executive director Ron Wasserstein will be joining us this Wednesday, Dec. 5, for an interactive e-chat from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET. Wasserstein, who has been an active participant in the planning, will tell us what events the organizers have lined up for Statistics2013 and how you can get involved in the celebration. In addition, Wasserstein said he'd gladly field any questions you might have on statistics in general and a statistics career. Join the conversation here.

"Why now?" you might wonder. As much as we've been hearing of late about the increasing importance of advanced business analytics, the rise of big-data, and the new data science role, statistics and statisticians have been around… well, forever. But Wasserstein told me in an email that 2013 is a perfect year for bringing together the historical and the current.

Several things came into the decision to make 2013 the International Year of Statistics. One major statistical organization (the Bernoulli Society, a section of the International Statistical Institute) had already been planning a 2013 celebration, in honor of the 300th anniversary of Ars Conjectandi by Jakob Bernoulli, considered the seminal work in the field of probability theory. It also turns out that Bayes Theorem, a very important result in statistical theory, was first presented in 1763, 250 years ago.
But those are just a part of the story. The real impetus is the rising realization in the power of data and data analysis to significantly impact our world for the better, along with the realization that we are not training enough people to have the expertise needed in the world to take advantage of the opportunities of the Age of Big Data.

Statistics2013.org says it has three primary goals:

  • Increase public awareness of statistics' power and impact on society.
  • Nurture statistics as a profession.
  • Promote creativity and development in probability and statistics.

Statistics2013 will launch with a worldwide announcement about a short video on statistics, and organizers will host a special website to "provide interesting information about statistics and connect people with information about careers," Wasserstein said. A yearend celebration is already in the works -- what he called a "capstone workshop" about the current and future state of statistical research. That event will take place in November 2013 in London and will draw participation from the top minds in statistics.

"But the real strength of the International Year of Statistics will be in the events that are planned and executed by the over 1,200 participating organizations," Wasserstein said. This is a truly global initiative: Participants hail from professional societies, colleges and universities, primary and secondary schools, adult education providers, business, government, and research institutes in every corner of the world.

And there will be plenty of opportunities for individuals to get involved. To start with, you can help get the word out about the importance of statistics by participating in a video contest sponsored by John Wiley & Sons. You have until Feb. 28 to submit a video showing:

  • How statistics impacts individual lives, improves society, or in general makes the world more a better place
  • How statistical thinking can be brought to bear on important issues of our day
  • Interesting careers in statistics (tell the world why your job in statistics is a great job, or why it is interesting and fun to be a statistician)
  • The video should be four minutes or shorter, and it will be judged on statistical content and entertainment value. Winners will receive cash prizes of $250 to $1,000, Statistics2013.org said. You can find more information here.

    Number crunchers and data gurus, are you ready to celebrate? How about you kick off your personal commitment to honoring the statistics profession by joining Wednesday's e-chat? (Maybe you'll find some inspiration for that award-winning statistics video you'd like to create.) We look forward to seeing you there.

    Beth Schultz, Editor in Chief

    Beth Schultz has more than two decades of experience as an IT writer and editor.  Most recently, she brought her expertise to bear writing thought-provoking editorial and marketing materials on a variety of technology topics for leading IT publications and industry players.  Previously, she oversaw multimedia content development, writing and editing for special feature packages at Network World. In particular, she focused on advanced IT technology and its impact on business users and in so doing became a thought leader on the revolutionary changes remaking the corporate datacenter and enterprise IT architecture. Beth has a keen ability to identify business and technology trends, developing expertise through in-depth analysis and early adopter case studies. Over the years, she has earned more than a dozen national and regional editorial excellence awards for special issues from American Business Media, American Society of Business Press Editors, Folio.net, and others.

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    Re: who knew
    • 12/3/2012 2:04:57 PM

    @Noreen, well there you go! I see he included a quote from Google's Hal Varian, who told the McKinsey Quarterly in 2009 that statisticians would be the "sexy job in the next ten years." Guess he nailed it!


    Re: who knew
    • 12/3/2012 2:00:02 PM

    And remember Mike Driscoll, a data scientist and entrepreneur, who wrote in "The Three Sexy Skills of Data Geeks": "...with the Age of Data upon us, those who can model, munge, and visually communicate data — call us statisticians or data geeks — are a hot commodity."

    Re: who knew
    • 12/3/2012 12:58:09 PM

    Well you know, many statisticians are data scientists, and Harvard Business Review did declare data scientist as the sexiest job of the 21st century...



    who knew
    • 12/3/2012 11:06:06 AM

    How sexy statistics were destined to become!

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