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What is Lost at SQL?
A SQL learning game by Robin Lord to help you pick up basic SQL skills – so that you can use queries to get information.
What is SQL good for>?
SQL stands for “Structured Query Language” –
it’s a pretty well-used way to get information out of databases.
SQL tools can process lots of data. For example – Google’s BigQuery
lets you work with millions of rows of data,
and get results in seconds – way faster than even tools like Python
Because SQL is pretty standardised, it’s an enormously
transferrable skill across multiple industries.
Why learn SQL now?
In many industries where large data sets are common – SQL is well known
as a valuable skill, but popularity is going to keep growing particularly in
It is a way to work with;
Large internal datasets (it can help you prepare and extract data either for simple investigations, or as an important step in Machine Learning
i.e. Forecasting, Mixed Media Modelling, or preparing data for Large Language Models)
- GA4 data (Google Analytics 4 can automatically export to BigQuery for free)
Site speed data (Google publicly
shares real-world experience data from users across the globe)
- Raw Search Console (many Search Console analysis tools pull their data to BigQuery and Google is soon offering a bulk export as an option)
You can also use it to supercharge existing tools – even when enterprise tools like
Salesforce don’t use normal SQL, many of them use their own version of SQL so knowing
how SQL works is a real leg-up
Can’t GPT do this for me?
It’s true that you could use Machine Learning to write some queries for you
but writing queries isn’t the value of learning this.
When we’re working with SQL we usually don’t spend most of our time
“just writing the query”. Usually the biggest part of the work is;
- Exploring the data to try to figure out how we can answer the questions we need to
- Trying to understand why SQL queries aren’t giving us the answers we expected (a big part of this is knowing the issues to check for, which is something we learn by working with queries)
- Cleaning our data/writing SQL in a different way, to get more accurate or more easily understood answers.
A lot of Machine Learning (including custom Language models) rely heavily on data so as we start to use more Machine
Learning tools – the ability to clean and prepare data likely becomes even more important.
Sometimes people compare SQL work to an investigation. So you could think of learning SQL as being able to walk around
a crime scene yourself, examining the evidence. Whereas
using a tool to write SQL for you is kind of like having to interview someone after the event, who doesn’t speak the
same language as you. You can have a translator ask
the questions but you’re hoping you already know the right questions to ask, and that there aren’t any
miscommunications in the additional hops.
A good example of this should be my challenge “pudding” – a tool like GPT could help you write your queries but
even if you use a tool to help you write the queries it’ll be easier if you are able to dig around yourself at the same time.
So you can absolutely use automated tools – this will just help make you a detective leading a team of analysts,
rather than a tourist hoping to get the right translation.
What do I do here?
- Click the X to close this explainer
- Choose your character picture and name (Lost at SQL will remember this if you go and come back)
Then select what type of game you want to play
Learning game will
start from basics and build up to more complex challenges
is for anyone who isn’t here to learn but
just wants to challenge their SQL skills
- Learning game will
Finally – click “play” to be taken through to the game –
there’s a tutorial to help you get used to the interface.
Other learning games
Support me making more stuff!
Thanks very much for your interest! If you’d like to support me making more
stuff you can easily buy me a coffee;