The things that keep me from blogging

I was recently at a conference where my friend Pete Skomoroch confessed to the audience that he was a "bad blogger," because he had not blogged in several months. Pete has been reasonably distracted as of late, so his absence is completely understandable. His comment, however, caused a sudden wave of guilt to wash over me as I sat in the audience. I am a very bad blogger, as it has been over three weeks since my last post, which admittedly was more of an announcement than an actual blog post.

Though not to the level of Pete, I too have been preoccupied. Over the last several weeks I have worked through some large projects and milestones. Two of these may be of general interest. First, John Myles White and I submitted half of the chapters for our upcoming O'Reilly book Machine Learning for Hackers to our editor. At the risk of sounding self-congratulatory, I am really impressed by what we have managed to pull together thus far and am really looking forward to getting the text out. I think teaching machine learning concepts algorithmically, and motivating each method with a case study will appeal to a broader audience. There may be a mini-eBook version of the first half of the book out before the full text is complete, so be on the look out for that announcement.

The second big announcement is that as of the end of this semester I have fulfilled all requirements for my PhD other than the dissertation. In the academic jargon I am now "all but dissertation" (ABD), and am now beginning the final leg of this scholarly adventure. I mention this for two reasons. First, so that you may shower me with the appropriate level of congratulations; and second, because part of my dissertation work will require the use of some new or novel social network data.

My most recent work on modeling network evolution with graph motifs has a serious deficiency: real data. To move this research from an abstract idea to something that makes a meaningful contribution to the social sciences I need to apply it to real data. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of real dynamic social network data—especially related to terrorist or criminal organizations. As such, I am putting out the call to my readership. If you, or someone you know, is working with a dynamic social network data set please contact me.

I know from my traffic logs that ZIA gets a fair amount of traffic from both academic and government readers. If any of you have data like this and are interested in working together I would love to chat. I am easy to get in touch with, so please let me know if you are interested.

Finally, I look forward to getting back into a regular blogging routine. There are so many fascinating things happening in the world related to conflict, terrorism and data it is hard to imagine where to begin. It should be an interesting summer!