Thursday, April 15, 2010

Surprising economic indicators

In the article “New Ways to Read the Economy” in the Wall Street Journal  last week, journalist Cari Tuna quotes several economists who are looking at new and surprising data sources to determine levels of economic activity.  For example, Ted Egan, the chief economist in the San Francisco controller’s office, looks at Saturday passenger counts from the subway station near the Union Square shopping district to get an idea of how the local economy is doing.  And Edward Leamer, an eonomist with the University of California, looks at diesel fuel sales on California’s I-5 interstate highway (a major lumber trucking route) as an indicator of construction employment.

It's heartening to hear about people using data like this to solve problems at a time when we hear a lot about the "tsunami of data" going unharvested. (See blog entry on this).

Friday, April 9, 2010

"SuperCrunchers" referenced in Daily Beast article

An article in the Daily Beast, "How Visa Predicts Divorce" , discusses how credit card companies use data mining techniques to determine if a person is more likely to get a divorce. The author of the article mentions that this technique was discussed in the book SuperCrunchers, which I reviewed in this blog a while back.

A snippet from the article: "By scrutinizing your purchases, credit companies try to figure out if your life is about to change—so they’ll know what to sell you."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bing and baseball

The latest post on the Microsoft Search blog describes how Bing adds value to the results of Major League Baseball related searches. Search for your favorite team and you will see the latest win/loss results, a schedule for upcoming games, and a one line summary of standings. Bing also provides real-time results for current games. Search for your favorite player and you will see a picture along with a table of their stats for the most recent game and a one line summary of their stats for the season.

In comparison, when you search your team in Google, you will see an inning scorecard of the most recent game. Also Google currently has nothing comparable to the MLB player results offered by Bing.

Monday, April 5, 2010

iPad and Gutenberg

For a thoughtful rumination on the possible effects of digital media on society (in light of the recent release of the iPad), see today's entry in the Paper Cuts blog at the New York Times.

There's also another article in the same vein from the Arizon Republic entitled "iPad, Kindle and other e-reader technology book business."