Author Interview – Graeme Simsion
13 12th episode of our #12Years12Authors series of interviews with data management authors and pioneers, I grabbed some time with my long time friend and conference colleague, data modeler and novelist extraordinaire, Graeme Simsion for a fun chat about data, data skills, life skills, and books.
Graeme has been a fantastic mentor to me personally over the years and it is always an experience chatting with him about anything data related.
This was originally intended as our 13th episode of 12, however schedule disruption means our planned 12th episode featuring Donna Burbank will be posted in January!
Graeme took some time out from finishing his latest book (more on that later) to chat with me about Data Modelling Essentials. He walked through the heritage and lineage of the book, starting with its early editions (some of which I own, along with a well thumbed copy of the 3rd edition and a copy of his follow up Data Modeling: Theory and Practice). These books (particularly Data Modeling Essentials) were my go-to references when I was taking the helm of large scale data projects early in my career. They really take the idea of data modeling and present it as a critical design thinking skill for the business not just a technical discipline you need to be able to spin up software applications that move data around.
My takeaways from the interview…
Listening back to the video as I packaged the editing, some key themes emerged for me from my discussion with Graeme.
- There is life after data. Graeme has become annoyingly successful as an author and screen writer. (“Annoyingly” is the wrong word. “Inspiringly” might be more accurate).
- The soft skills are critical skills that data people need to learn, not just the technical “hard” skills.
- The ability to break down the data concepts that an organisation needs to know about is not a “techie” skill but is one which should be developed by “business” managers as well so they can understand how their organisation works.
- Design thinking is an essential discipline for everyone.
I also learned that Graeme was working on a new book, “The Novel Project“ which sets out a methodology and approach for writing any kind of book, from a technical text book to a romantic comedy novel, and all things in between. I’ve had a chance to read an early copy of the book and it is (as always with Graeme) insightful and well worth picking up!
Developing the Data Skills
Castlebridge will be rolling out a data modelling skills course in 2022. Top of our “recommended reading” list for that course will be Data Modelling Essentials. This course will be launching in Q1 2022, so keep an eye on DataEducation.ie and this site for updates!
Graeme, being a hard core data guy, stuck to the brief of picking one book that had influenced him. He chose “How Designers Think” by Bryan Lawson, which looks at the creative and structured approaches to design-based thinking and design patterns. Lawson codifies in this book forty years of research into the process of design and provides tools for people to think about design and its impacts. This book influenced Graeme’s PhD thesis, which ultimately found published form as Data Modeling: Theory and Practice.
Books Referenced in this Video
- Data Modeling: Theory and Practice (Graeme Simsion)
- Data Modelling Essentials (Graeme Simsion, Graham Witt)
- How Designers Think (Bryan Lawson)
- Data Modeling Made Simple (Steve Hoberman et al.)
- The Data Model Resource Book series (Len Silverston)
- Graeme’s ever increasing catalogue of fiction and non-fiction books….
Related Castlebridge Content
- An interesting definitional bind: EUDataP and Modelling Gender
- The UnGlamorous Value of Small Things
- The Story of Why (a blog post that looks at the importance of a process-centric mindset for root cause analysis)
Previous Interviews in this Series
- John Ladley – Author Interview Week 1
- Katherine O’Keefe – Author Interview Week 2
- Dr Tom Redman – Author Interview Week 3
- Danette McGilvray – Author Interview Week 4
- Barry Devlin – Author Interview Week 5
- Laura Sebastian-Coleman – Author Interview Week 6
- Robert Seiner – Author Interview Week 7
- Daragh O Brien – Author Interview Week 8
- Doug Laney – Author Interview Week 9
- Michelle Finneran Dennedy – Author Interview Week 10
- Alec Sharp – Author Interview Week 11