Monthly Archive for February, 2017

Anything you can’t measure you can’t manage

Anything you can’t measure you can’t manage

Who said that?

Wilbur Ross, potential Secretary of Commerce in the Trump administration. This quote during his confirmation hearing is relevant as one of the agencies that will be under his purview is the Census Bureau.

He is also sympathetic to funding for the Census Bureau and presumably other statistical agencies:

In recent years, some Republicans in Congress have tried to restrict government data collection and to cut funding to the Census Bureau and other statistical agencies. Ross signaled he will fight those efforts. “It’s been hard getting the commitment for the appropriations that census really needs for its mission”

The Washington Post had an op-ed about the Census Bureau on February 20th and Wilbur Ross is mentioned in it:

IN HIS confirmation hearing last month, Wilbur Ross noted he may be the first secretary of commerce nominee who was once a U.S. census taker. Those skills could come in handy right about now: A recent report indicates the 2020 Census is in trouble.

Sources
What We Learned (And Didn’t) About Wilbur Ross At His Confirmation Hearing
Ben Casselman | FiveThirtyEight
January 18, 2017

Wilbur Ross’s first task should be saving the 2020 Census
Editorial Board | Washington Post
February 20, 2017

New word of the day: frugging

Do you know what frugging means? AAPOR condemned the Mainstream Media Accountability Survey for frugging:

AAPOR Statement on Trump/Pence Campaign Web Survey
American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR)
February 23, 2017

A hint is in the title – campaign. But, otherwise, read the short statement and find out.

As to the ‘survey‘ it could also be criticized for all the double-barreled questions it has. Here’s Question 13:

survey question

The Forgotten Men Index

graph

The Economist has created an index based on the unemployment rate, labor force participation rate, and average hourly wages. The index compares the fortunes of white working class men (WWCM) to all men. It will be updated monthly. So far, the index stands at 100; it was at 62 in 1994.

Details – but not enough, are in the articles below:

Daily Chart: Tracking the fortunes of America’s white working-class men
The Data Team | The Economist
February 20, 2017

The forgotten men index: Tracking the fortunes of the white working-class
The Economist
February 18, 2017

It might be interesting to look at this at lower levels of geography (states, counties, etc.) based on the American Community Survey instead of the original sources, which aren’t necessarily suitable for sub-national geographies.

Rescuing Federal Data

ICPSR has a new portal that allows the public to upload valuable government resources for preservation and dissemination – DATA LUMOS. These government files are snapshots of the data as it existed on the day it was harvested. Obviously, a live version is preferable, but if data disappear from government websites, the last known version is preferable to nothing. And, via crowd sourcing, this harvesting effort can be shared among many.

DATA LUMOS focuses on preserving federal social science data, interpreted broadly. Pollution data from the EPA would be relevant as would be daily temperature data from NASA. The main decision point is whether users of these data would think to search for it at ICPSR.

DATA LUMOS Announcement
ICPSR Webinar on DATA LUMOS

This is not the only “save the data” organization. A few weeks earlier there was an Ann Arbor Data Rescue event, part of a national Data Refuge project and the Internet Archive’s End of Term Presidential Harvest:

Library participates in effort to preserve government data
Lynne Raughley | University Record (University of Michigan)
February 1, 2017

Here are two other similar events:

Saving Data: Preservation during Political Turmoil
Andrew Battista | Data Dispatch (NYU Data Services)
January 26, 2017

Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump
Zoe Schlanger | Wired
January 19, 2017

More background on some of the larger collaborations driving this:

DataRefuge Project

DataRefuge is also an initiative committed to identifying, assessing, prioritizing, securing, and distributing reliable copies of federal climate and environmental data so that it remains available to researchers. Data collected as part of the #DataRefuge initiative will be stored in multiple, trusted locations to help ensure continued accessibility

End of Term Presidential Harvest 2016

This is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), the Library of Congress, the California Digital Library, the University of North Texas Libraries, Internet Archive, George Washington University Libraries, and Stanford University Libraries to harvest and preserve public U.S. Government websites at the conclusion of the current Presidential administration ending on January 20, 2017.

Note that this web harvest was done at the conclusion of other administrations, e.g., 2008 and 2012.

More on the “End of Term Presidential Harvest”
Harvesting Government History, One Web Page at a Time
Jim Dwyer | New York Times
December 1, 2016

Large portions of dot-gov have no mandate to be taken care of,” said Mark Phillips, a library dean at the University of North Texas, referring to government websites. “Nobody is really responsible for doing this.

Enter the End of Term Presidential Harvest 2016 — a volunteer, collaborative effort by a small group of university, government and nonprofit libraries to find and save valuable pages now on federal websites. The project began before the 2008 elections, when George W. Bush was serving his second term, and returned in 2012.

And, a few more interesting notes:

The EPA Just Posted a Mirror Website of the One Trump Plans to Censor
Matt Novak | Gizmodo.com
February 16, 2017

tweet

And, the Twitter poster above, is a one-man operation that rescues knowledge from the internet:

The Memory Hole

For instance, here are links to recently deleted items posted on the site:

The Education Department’s Deleted IDEA Website
The disappeared website about public education for disabled children still exists….

NASA’s Internal Counterintelligence Newsletter
Twenty-five issues of NASA’s newsletter about information security, terrorism, and spies.

Trump Deletions
A collection of online material deleted by Donald Trump, his campaign, and his transition team.

W.E.B. DuBois and the Hand-Drawn Infographic

image stamp

[Link to W.E.B. DuBois infographics at the Library of Congress]
In preparation for an exhibition at the Paris World’s Fair, W.E.B. DuBois commissioned hand-drawn infographics that illuminated how black Americans lived in the 1900s – mostly illustrating the great progress of this population since the end of slavery. In addition to the overview of the life of blacks in the United States, there was a special focus on “The Georgia Negro.” At the time, Georgia had the largest black population among all the states. These infographics were drawn by his students at Atlanta University – now Clark Atlanta University. He wanted his students to combat racism with empirical data.

Link to infographics: Library of Congress
Note that the metadata for each image gives details such as ink and watercolor, size (710 x 560 mm), and material (board).

Hand-drawn infographics commissioned by W.E.B. Du Bois illuminate how black Americans lived in the 1900s
Anne Quito | Quartz
February 10, 2017

W.E.B. Du Bois Was A Master Of The Hand-Drawn Infographic
Meg Miller | Fastcodesign.com
February 9, 2017