Jon Harmon



Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi there! My name is Jon Harmon (Twitter: @jonthegeek, Github: jonthegeek). I live in Austin, Texas, with my fiancé, my two soon-to-be stepdaughters, and our two large dogs. I’m a Senior Data Scientist at Macmillan Learning, where I try to find ways to make our content do a better job at helping students. I also run the R4DS Online Learning Community, where I hold an office hour every Saturday (see for the full schedule)! You can also hear me on the TidyTuesday podcast for quick explanations of dataviz techniques.

How do you use R? What are your favorite packages?

I used to do everything in SQL, Google Sheets, Google Apps Script, and PHP. When I changed departments in 2017 and officially got the title “Senior Data Scientist”, I decided I should probably see how other data scientists did things. I had tried to learn Python before, but it never really clicked. To be honest, neither did R, until I was shown the Tidyverse and the wonders of the magrittr pipe. Now I use R all day every day. A coworker and I ported BERT from Python to R to create the RBERT package, which I’m currently using daily at work. I’m also a big fan of the tidymodels suite of packages, and, of course, the tidyverse.

I also work with shiny quite a bit, and I love golem as a way to make a bit more sense out of shiny apps (although I haven’t actually deployed a golem app yet, so we’ll see how that goes).

What hardware do you run R on? Do you use any other software tools?

At work, we run everything on RStudio Server on CentOS 7 AWS cloud servers. It’s nice to be able to scale things up and down as needed, and to be sure that we’re all working on exactly the same configuration.

At home, I just bought my first new computer in quite a long time. Since I hadn’t actually owned a computer for about a decade, I splurged a bit. I wanted something that I could use to experiment with natural language processing, so I bought a gaming laptop. It was funny trying to explain to the salespeople why I wanted a high-end graphics card but hadn’t actually played any PC games in years.

Do you have any projects that you’re working on right now?

I really enjoy spending time working to improve the R4DS Online Learning Community. I’m currently working on finding a way to devote more of my time to creating and improving free online educational content and services. We can always use more help (and learners) at R4DS, so head on over to our slack, or watch my lightning talk from rstudio::conf(2020L) to learn more!