Mar 142015
The history of media aggregation

I recently finished reading Christopher Daly’s Covering America, a narrative history of journalism in America. (I’d recommend it to anyone interested in journalism — you’ll learn a lot, and it’s just a genuinely enjoyable read.) One thing that struck me was how many of our current debates over digital journalism have historical precedents. For instance, can

Dec 102014

Experts are deeply divided over whether robots are coming for our jobs. Still, there are some things we do know about the relationship between technology, employment, and wages. There are a lot of recent-ish books and essays out about this, and my aim is to briefly summarize their findings here, if only so I don’t

Oct 142014
Socialism and data science

Perhaps the best argument for capitalism is that no central planner can adequately understand the entire economy, however good their intentions. This point is made by Hayek, as Cass Sunstein summarizes in his book Infotopia: Hayek claims that the great advantage of prices is that they aggregate both the information and the tastes of numerous

  •  October 14, 2014
  •  Posted by at 10:07 pm
  •   Comments Off
  •   Featured
Sep 082014

Over the weekend I argued that people are really quite good at making predictions, when you zoom out and think of all the various ways we do so in science and in everyday life. Talk about how “predictions are hard, especially about the future” tends to concentrate on a narrow band of particularly difficult topics.

Sep 062014

Humans are terrible at making forecasts, we’re often told. Here’s one recent example at Bloomberg View: I don’t mean to pick on either of those folks; you can randomly name any 10 strategists, forecasters, pundits and commentators and the vast majority of their predictions will be wrong. Not just a little wrong, but wildly, hilariously

Sep 022014

I’ve written a bunch over the last few years attacking the idea that social media is isolating, causes loneliness, etc. But Technology Review has a piece up on some new and seemingly credible research on the relationship between social media use and reported happiness: But there is growing evidence that the impact of online social

Aug 282014

There’s a great piece in The Atlantic this month on advertising, the internet’s “original sin”, by MIT’s Ethan Zuckerman. Advertising, he argues, has stripped us of our privacy, to the point of normalizing constant online surveillance. Add to that the fact that it’s not yet clear how well even these sophisticated data-heavy ad products are at actually making

Aug 222014

Mobile apps are dominating media consumption, but getting users to use your app is really, really hard: U.S. users are now spending the majority of their time consuming digital media within mobile applications, according to a new study released by comScore this morning. That means mobile apps, including the number 1 most popular app Facebook, eat up

Aug 052014

To hear pundits talk about it, it’s easy to conclude that we have no idea what policies will help with economic growth. After all, we’re debating whether we’re stuck in stagnation or about to witness a new era of technology-led expansion. But there are a set of policies the majority of economists believe will be growth

Jul 042014
Beating the algorithm, for now

The New York Times has a fun interactive that lets you compete against an algorithm designed to predict which tweets will get the most retweets. The Times also has a story about the algorithm and its implications. Its takeaway: That an algorithm can make these kinds of predictions shows the power of “big data.” It