Of I and We
identity and relationships
I can’t wait to share the super exciting times I am living through these days!
One thing that put me on cloud nine this week is Matei Zaharia’s starring of the Zingg repository. Coming from the Apache Spark creator himself, the developer in me could not have asked for a greater validation. I have always rushed for the front seats at Matei’s keynote at the Data and AI Summit and tried to chat up with him when he was less surrounded by fans like me. Early endorsements like these, from Matei or DBT Labs CoFounder and CEO Tristan Handy, will go a long way in keeping me motivated to build something awesome!
Open source has had this wonderful side effect of connecting me to people from different backgrounds, both exemplary data and business leaders as well as people from the trenches. Earlier, the restrictions imposed by COVID were really making me crave social interaction. But now, strangers have reached out to learn more about Zingg and talk about how the project could shape up. Experts have helped me carve out the value proposition and think about the road ahead. I am overwhelmed with the generosity of people with their time - making introductions to possible users, guidance on open source, advice on community building and hiring. I have a lot of questions about the process for the road ahead, but till now, I wasnt sure if it was okay to ask them. These days, actually, I am really learning to be comfortable asking lots of rookie questions from experts.
On the community front, I have started the Zingg Slack workspace because everyone else in the modern data stack was doing it ;-) Yes, that is one reason, but also because Slack is a great place to talk beyond Zingg, and it seems like the perfect way to meet more people. I finally have a place to share memes! And jobs. We are eight members now and I even got help on some slack settings I was struggling with alone. Pretty pumped about that :-)
On the usage side, I got a chance to dive deep into insurance-related problems this week. Most insurance companies have large data volumes. Insurance policies are increasingly bought through multiple channels, both offline and digital. There are agents and third parties involved. Establishing which customer has bought which policies and through what channels is a challenge. Without a single source of truth of policyholders, risk, compliance, and lifetime value, along with cross-selling suffer. Then there is the question of establishing households. Nominees and addresses are shared between members of the households in most cases, but it is hard to establish the relationships between them in the absence of exact matches. These are intriguing problems, to identify customers and to establish linkages between them. These problems are also very foundational - the core pieces for all operations and analytics.
At one level, these interactions on the foundations and applications of Zingg, the discussions with possible users, advisors, and fellow builders have made me discover many important aspects about myself. Answering questions asked by others have clarified many of my own desires and motivations. It is likely that some of the thoughts were already in my subconscious but I was not aware of them. There were some paths I had thought I could take but now I realize I do not want to. And there were some paths which I was convinced against, but now I think they make perfect sense. It is like parts of my personality, in bits and pieces, coming together, to define me. Kind of like my own identity shaping up.
And then there is the discovery on the power of relationships - the people around me who have instilled the confidence and are supporting me. I have always valued close interpersonal relationships, but this time these linkages are to strangers and people I have never met. Or with people I worked with years ago and reconnected. Or someone whom I interacted years ago in some technical forum. And it is almost a bond, quite like a shared cause or a journey we are planning together. All this feels very powerful and add a very beautiful meaning to work and to life.
So this is what I am thinking deeply about at the moment - the spirit of the individual and the power of the group. An individual has various aspects to their personality, and they all come together to define who they are. An individual can be strong and on a path to self discovery. But alone, the individual at best is as good as a lonely warrior. It is the strength of the relationships, the love and the support, the candid feedback as well as the guidance of the group which eventually shapes up the individual and moves the entire group forward. This dynamics is what makes life worth living.
And isn’t this what entity resolution is all about - discovering more about yourself and letting others in to define who you are. Strengthening the core. Establishing the identity and building the relationships. Making the whole bigger than the sum of its parts.
What do you think?
[PS: If you would like to work with me on building Zingg, please do write back!]