I'm a Cultural Data Scientist

I’m a Cultural Data Scientist

It looks like I’ve just coined a new job title…

This article first appeared on vishalkumar.london on 10th March 2019.

I’ve been using this job title quite a bit now. On my website. In my portfolio. In talks and presentations. Even when I meet new people.

The thing is, the term “Cultural Data Scientist” doesn’t exist. I just made it up.

I am a data scientist who uses statistics, econometrics, machine learning, urban analytics, social media analytics and data visualization to understand and measure the economic and social impact of culture in cities.

But that’s obviously a bit of a mouthful, especially when I’m at the pub chatting with someone who doesn't know the definitions of any of those jargon terms.

So, I thought I’d write a blog post about it.

What is Culture?

Culture is one of those seriously loaded terms. The definition is split halfway between “the arts” and “social behaviour”.

The Oxford Dictionary definition of Culture is:

  1. The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

  2. The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.

Wikipedia describes Culture as the “social behaviour and norms found in human societies.”

The UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) has a whole section which looks like the “cultural” industries, which includes X, Y, Z.

Annoyingly, the business world also seems to be hijacking the word recently.

What is Data Science?

Data science is a discipline where data is used and analyzed to test hypotheses, answer questions and understand insights. 

Data science is a “concept to unify statistics, data analysis, machine learning and their related methods” in order to “understand and analyze actual phenomena” with data.

Cultural Data Scientist

The job title Cultural Data Scientist, therefore, quite nicely sums up what I do.

I am a data scientist who uses statistics, econometrics, machine learning, urban analytics, social media analytics and data visualization to understand and measure the economic and social impact of culture in cities.

My research focus on culture started out with the arts but is now quite broad and spans across the arts to music, fashion, and food.

The job title is much better than “I’m a Data Scientist for the cultural sector”.

Comparables

Much like how you can be an Economic Consultant, Financial Consultant, Software Engineer, Machine Learning Engineer, or Civil Engineer…

I am a Cultural Data Scientist.

Maybe I’m being pedantic?

But the truth is, the people who I deal with on a day to day basis — people in the arts and cultural sector — tend not to even know what a Data Scientist is!

Placing “Cultural” in front of “Data Scientist” creates a distinction that is not only unique and interesting but also helpful to XXX.

Research

To prove that the job title doesn’t exist, I’ll link to a few popular and well-used search engines.

According to Google Trends — here — the term doesn’t exist (retrieved on 11th February 2019). 

LinkedIn — here — there isn’t anyone else with that job title.

Even a standard Google search doesn’t yield the term.

Cultural Analytics and Cultural Data Science

The term Cultural Analytics invented by XX

Admitadely, there are a few universities who are using “cultural data science”.

McGill in Montreal, Canada has a Centre for Social and Cultural Data Science.

Social and Cultural Analytics Lab at Imperial in London but their Twitter account hasn’t tweeted since 30 October 2015! — seriously poor effort!

The Bartlett at UCL, the faulty I am currently studying at, is releasing a new Masters degree called Data Science for Cultural Heritage.

But interesting there isn’t a Wikipedia page for it.

Did I just coin a new job title…?

I wasn't able to find anyone who was actively using the job title Cultural Data Scientist as of March 2019.

The term is needed. As we move into 2020, Culture is becoming more digital and larger data sets now exist.

If universities are creating these research labs then people should feel comfortable using the job title Cultural Data Scientist to describe the work their doing.

In my opinion, the word social scientist just won’t do (because) and data scientist is too broad. Computational Social Scientist is a thing… but which social science are you referring to… all of them?

In any case, it looks like I’ve just coined a new job title, and it’s something I am going to stick with for some time! 

(Here is the Wikipedia page I just created.)

Encourage you to do the same!

Thanks for reading!

Vishal