How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy - "A former academic mathematician and ex-hedge fund quant exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics, with results that cause damage both financially and to the fabric of society. Programmed biases and a lack of feedback are among the concerns behind the clever and apt title of Cathy O'Neil's book: Weapons of Math Destruction." [more inside]
According this latest numbers from IFPI, while the music-buying audience in the USA is still the biggest in the world, the most valuable music fans are actually the proud people of Norway. This may be due, in large part, to the fact that since 2009 piracy in Norway has plunged by 76%.
China rates its own citizens - including online behaviour: "The Chinese government is currently implementing a nationwide electronic system, called the Social Credit System, attributing to each of its 1,3 billion citizens a score for his or her behavior. The system will be based on various criteria, ranging from financial credibility and criminal record to social media behavior. From 2020 onwards each adult citizen should, besides his identity card, have such a credit code." [more inside]
The Upshot asked: Where are the hardest places to live in the U.S.? (A bit more on the ranking.) Now, given continuing economic divergence (previously): What do the two Americas search for?
Yesterday, the Nielsen Company released a report showing that same-sex partnered households in America shop about 16% more than the average US household. Broken down into categories, Nielsen observes that gay couples drink a ton, while lesbian couples eat an awful lot of cottage cheese.
Happyism: The Creepy New Economics of Pleasure. Economist Dierdre McCloskey, in the New Republic, digs into the mathematical underpinnings of the scientific study of happiness. Executive summary: she doesn't like what she finds.
Tails of the Unexpected: "Normality has been an accepted wisdom in economics and finance for a century or more. Yet in real-world systems, nothing could be less normal than normality. Tails should not be unexpected, for they are the rule." An eminently human-readable explanation of why normal models fail to describe the uncertainties of our abnormal world. [more inside]
Today I am sharing with you an article arguing that unemployment rates during the Great Depression were overstated, that current unemployment rates are understated and that the two sets of data considered in combination indicate that we are are firmly in Depression-era levels of unemployment.
Hans Rosling [previously, previously] compares the health and wealth of 200 countries over 200 years in 4 minutes using the best infographic ever. Interactive Flash version here.
The Harvard University Worklife Wizard, created by an international team of journalists, economists, and statisticians, is Barbara Ehrenreich's wet dream. It's also a fantastic resource that has flown pretty much under everyone's radar. The Worklife Survey drives the constantly-revised, constantly-refined Salary Comparison Tool, which is always hungry for more data about employment from around the world. And when they say they want data from everyone, they mean it-- there's even a VIP Salary Checker that pits the wages of the Yankees against those of the Red Sox. (Plus if you take the survey, you can apparently earn a chance to win a trip to South Africa). Personally, I love the Workplace Horror Stories (and there's a competition there too). I can't look at a nail clipper the same way now.
How Rich am I? Heard a talk today from the founder of Gapminder, a non-profit company that creates Flash and shockwave pieces that are somewhere between information visualization, socially motivated art, and interactive educational pieces. Be sure to check out the Human Development Trends, and the Dollar Street (photos of real homes of real people who live on $1-2 per day, $2-5 per day, to $100 per day). See also: Understanding USA for more nice pictures of statistics.