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Spotlight: West Hub, Data Carpentry, and the Southern California Tribal Digital Village


Shianne in action, with her newly-acquired Data Carpentry skills

A Guest Column by Billiekai Boughton, Project Coordinator  In April, the West Big Data Innovation Hub partnered with the Southern California Tribal Digital Village (SCTDV) and The Carpentries to host a data awareness/carpentry event at Pala, a San Diego county tribal community.  Participants spent two days learning foundational data and software skills including Python, Github, Jupyter, as well as various visualization and statistical techniques.  The event was part of a larger initiative between the WBDIH and the Carpentries to expand the network of instructors and data skills events in the western United States.  The West Big Data Innovation Hub is proud to spotlight one of its members, and carpentry event attendee, Shianne Elam. Q: What’s your current work position? Is there anything in particular that made you want to work there? A: I am currently the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Technology at the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association. I’ve always wanted to work close to home (on the reservation) and was looking for a job through one of the tribes, SCTCA just so happened to be hiring in Pala, CA. Q:What is the most useful thing you have learned in any job? Does it still help you? A: The most useful thing I’ve learned in any job is to adapt quickly and treat everyone with equal respect, regardless of their position. Q:What interested you about taking the workshop? A: I was interested in learning something new! Data was something I knew little about until attending this workshop. Q:Was there something specific you wanted to learn? Did you learn it? A: I wanted to learn specifically what data carpentry was and what I could do with it. I now know how to retrieve data from websites and construct the information into legible graphs or documents. Q:What is happening that is exciting in your current field of work or a field you’d like to try? A: Something I find exciting in my current field of work is how the growing field of information and technology is slowly spreading through Indian country. The small internet infrastructure (Tribal Digital Village) started here in Pala and has already changed so much for the surrounding communities and especially the education departments. It’s exciting to think what will happen in the future that will lead to even better ways of living and more equal opportunities in Indian country.

Q: What other careers or fields of employment are you interested in? What about them is interesting to you? A: I’m interested in careers involving Tribal Government, Holistic Health, and Yoga. The unusual laws and sovereignty of each individual tribal government is what provokes me to get involved with my own tribe (San Pasqual Band of Diegueno Indians). I’m working towards a few certificates with the School of Natural Health Sciences and my AA in American Indian Studies with an emphasis on Culture and Society at Palomar College. Q: What about attending the data science workshop intrigued you? A: The most intriguing think about the workshop is learning about how much data is actually accumulated about people each day through the websites and the apps we use and what the websites are doing with that data. Q: What have you learned that you have used since the workshop? A: The workshop really opened my eyes to how much data is retrieved about myself (and all consumers) and how much I actually allow to be retrieved from my phone, tablet or laptop and how I am able to control it. Q: What did you learn that you can’t wait to use or are eager to try? A: I was able to learn how to control what data would be retrieved from my phone, laptop, etc and I disabled as much as I could soon after the workshop, lol! Q: Is there anything else interesting related to this workshop and you that you would like to share? A: I’m eager to see how my new skills may later benefit my tribe in ways of collecting, organizing and archiving our own historical data.


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