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Welcome (back) to Emil

Emil Jeyaratnam has actually worked for Salsa a couple of times, but we’ve recently welcomed him back as our ‘Mr Data’ for our new Open Data Insights blog.

Salsa Digital 16 September 2019

Salsarian (this time) since August 2019

Everybody loves a good boomerang story...

Welcome back Emil

Emil has joined the Salsa team as editor of Salsa’s new Open Data Insights series. This new series profiles open government datasets with the aim of generating interest in the dataset and — ideally — inspiring people to use the data.

For Open Data Insights, Emil firstly chooses a dataset to analyse. This is an important step because, apart from being interesting, the data needs to be current (and updated regularly), complete (i.e. not missing large bits of information or riddled with errors) and relevant to the public (i.e. it must be useful in some way). Emil then uses standard data science techniques to explore the data. In this phase, he effectively “interrogates” the data, both statistically and visually, looking for patterns and outliers. Then comes the research, looking for possible reasons for the patterns and outliers. Ultimately, Emil is trying to find interesting points in the data that he can weave into a cohesive narrative. “The goal is to create a story rather than just have five disparate charts in the article.”

About Emil

Emil actually started off with a double degree in computer science and computer engineering from RMIT. In fact, that’s where he met Salsa Director and CEO Alfred. After completing his degree, Emil worked for Accenture for three and a half years but then had an “early-career crisis” and travelled to China. When he came back to Australia, he studied film and TV at Swinburne, and worked in the industry for five years, mainly on documentaries. In 2011, Emil started studying journalism at LaTrobe, with the intention of focusing on interview and research techniques to help with documentary film-making. However, he discovered he loved the immediacy and importance of journalism, and started working at The Conversation in 2013 as its first multimedia editor.

Over time, Emil has moved away from producing video and audio content to focus on data and data visualisation, and he is currently The Conversation’s Data + Interactives editor. “I love the simplicity and complexity in data. Data is restrictive in a way, but it allows you to be creative in terms of how you explore that data, how you tell that story — but the data always keeps you grounded because you need to be faithful and true to the data. I love that aspect of it.”

Why Salsa?

Emil was attracted to the project itself, given it was in his exact area of interest and combined data science, data visualisation and journalism. He also loved the idea behind Salsa’s Open Data Insights series. “I believe in open data, especially government open data, and so I was keen to be involved in something that encourages government at all levels to open up their datasets so people can use that data to create new and fun things, to innovate.”

Emil also had great experiences with Salsa in the past. In fact, he worked at Salsa in the very early days helping create websites part time, then came on board for six months in 2011 as an engagement manager to fill in a contract role. And he loves the people at Salsa. “Salsa has always been able to get a great team together. I love the culture, because it’s collaborative and fun.”

Emil usually lives in Melbourne, but he’s currently enjoying the digital nomad life living in Malaysia and Indonesia for another few months before returning to Australia in November with his wife and two kids. View Emil's Salsa profile

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