A journey to Data Insight

My name is Jose A. Dianes and, as many others, I got into computers fascinated with programming those 8-bit 80s wonders to make stuff I wanted (or I wished) them to do. That, together with a certain inclination towards maths and science at school, got me into pursuing my degree in computer science and, eventually a PhD in software engineering that I hoped would allow me to stay curious and passionate about the discipline.  

But research in that area tend to be more about innovation in technology and practices. It felt to me a bit distant from using technology as a tool for exploration and understanding. It did not put me into the question-experiment-answer exploratory way of thinking I was more inclined to.

So I was out for a job and, after collaborating with a few startups I joined the EMBL European Bioinformatics Institue in Cambridge, as an enterprise data integration engineer. It was there where I first got to know high volumes of data, and how they were being used to answer complex biological and medical questions.

However, being in the middle of the big data age, most efforts were centered around the problems emerging from storing and processing massive amounts of data in a scalable way. And that, again, was about technology. It was shifting me away from the question-experiment-answer exploratory way of working I was more inclined to!

But then I realised that, at the same rate as we were being able to make progress on processing massive amounts of data, an increasing need for sensemaking and communication was being created. In order for scientists and entrepreneours to make the right decissions about the phenomena they were studying or helping to create, knowledge and insight needed to be extracted from data. Data cannot be acted on if it is not properly understood.

Data visualisation and communication are, of course, essential steps in this process. My aim is to provide organisations witht the right tools to understand information. By doing so they are in a better position to improve, evolve, and compete. Communicating this knowledge correctly and effectively makes the most of both, their efforts on data gathering and processing, and their human talents. This is a critical activity not just inside an organisation but also for outreaching purposes.


This one is a blog about those topics that I find exciting such as Data Visualisation, Data Analysis, or Communication and Storytelling. But it is also about the best ways of using technology to create data insght. Therefore we will talk about technologies such as ElasticSearch and Lucene, the R and Python ecosystems, or Spark. But also about integrating them into interactive webproducts using, Python, Flask, AngularJS, D3, etc.

In my spare time, I also write about Wine and Photography.

You can contact me using the form below, or you can check my open source projects on GitHub.