Great Designers vs Data Specialists: Which is Harder to Hire?

Data geek Soren Macbeth (now at Yieldbot) and I met over tea several months ago and he said something to me that I have thought of many times since. He said that though data science is getting all the hype, great designers might be even harder to hire. I was just thinking about that again this morning and thought I’d ask on the Twitter. Below you’ll find the interesting conversation that emerged in response. I’d love to know what your thoughts on this are.

Of course the best of both worlds are those magical people who are strong in both. People like Nathan Yau, Andrew Vande Moere, Benjamin Wiederkehr, Ben Fry, Jer Thorp and Martin Wattenberg. Then there’s emergent voices online like Cole Nussbaumer, Enrico Bertini and Bryan Connor. See also the new podcast Data Stories. I don’t know all of these people personally, I just discovered them as part of the output of our startup Plexus Engine. Speaking of Plexus, if you’re into data and design – and if you’d like to live in beautiful Portland, Oregon – you should send me an email so we can talk. If you don’t want to move but are interested in rocking the future of the internet with us, you should still get in touch. We’re building something incredible and we’re looking for people who want to build it with us.

  • I’m biased, of course, because I’ve lived, breathed, eaten and slept “data science” before it even had a name. But I really think data science is easy compared to design. Anybody with an undergrad degree in *any* quantitative discipline can do “data science”. If you can do calculus, differential equations, linear regression and can understand the logic of MapReduce, the rest is pretty much software engineering.

  • Jacob Greer

    I think that’s the intersection of data storytellers. Able to communicate or design something with data science. I agree with @znmeb that these terms are really just more recent rhetorical games over older skillsets. The only difference is that they are now more publicly discussed.