Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The importance of titling and property rights

A 10-minute video from MRUniversity course on development economics covering the theory and empirical research on the importance of titling and property rights (via Alex Tabarrok).

The twilight of SAS and SPSS

A very nice piece by Robert Muenchen on the most used tools for data analysis in academia: "Will 2014 be the Beginning of the End for SAS and SPSS?" 

I thank Raquel Guimarães for the pointer.

'Figure 3. Scholarly use of data analysis software, collected in 2011'
[Image Credit: Bob Muenchen]

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Quote of the Day

"People don't think the right way. You should be happy of getting old because the alternative is not being younger, it's being dead!"

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Geometry of Sound Visualized

Turn down your speakers … but not all of the way off. Now see what sound waves look like when they’re visualized and the geometric patterns they make. A little bit of history here.

(via Open culture)

Low frequency part (at 0:40) reminds me of this fried egg city, and high frequency part (at 1:52) reminds me of Christaller's network of central places. Probably, there is already an author using complexity theory to freak out on this stuff.

Related Link:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A spreadsheet to calculate congestion charge

For those interested in transport modelling and congestion pricing, here is a piece in Wired about Komanoff 's spreadsheet to calculate congestion charge. He has been working for three years now on the Balanced Transportation Analyzer, an Excel spreadsheet proposed to model every aspect of New York City transportation (I thank Fabio Storino for the pointer).

And here is a 15-minute video where Komanoff explains the whole idea of the project.

The spreadsheet is quite impressive as for the amount of input data it demands. However, I'm not familiarized with transport modelling, so I'm in no position to have an opinion on this spreadsheet. I'd rahter have some experts' opinions published in scientific journal assessing it.

ps. I confess though I asked myself: why 'Excel' ?!  This is too vintage.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Urban Picture

Hong Kong, by Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze.

Chart of the Day

A nice piece on The Economist covering India’s demographic challenge.

As some studies have pointed out, the key element in discussing the so called 'demographic dividend' of a country is education, and more education. And of course, in the end, education and aging are crucial for productivity levels.

[Image Credit: The Economist]

Monday, May 13, 2013

Media Exposure and Reproductive Behavior

Three papers discussing the effects of media exposure on reproductive behavior.

Ferrara et al (2008). Soap Operas and Fertility: Evidence from Brazil. IDB Working Paper Nº 533 *

Chong and La Ferrara (2010). Television and divorce: Evidence from Brazilian novelasJ. European Economic Association.

Westoff and Koffman (2011). The Association of Television and Radio with Reproductive BehaviorPopulation and Development Review.

*A  funny  curious finding: "the likelihood that the twenty most popular names chosen by parents for their newborns would include one or more names of the main characters of novelas aired that year was about 33 percent if the area where parents lived received the Globo signal and only 8.5 percent if it did not."

Related Links:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Visualizing surface changes over time in every corner on Earth

A while ago we had a few posts with satellites images showing the urban expansion of Phoenix (1989 - 2009)São Paulo (1957-2007) and Las Vegas ( 1984-2009 or 1976-2010)*. Now you may check similiar timelapse satellite videos for many (many!) other places on the planet from 1984 through 2012 (yearly pictures amounting a total of 909 terabytes of data).

Search anywhere here and say thanks to NASA, Google, Time and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

* Reletad Link:
  • Atlas of Urban Expansion - comparing the urban expansion of London, Cariro, Chicago and São Paulo from 1800's through 2000.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bending Manhattan

Some of you probably remember the city bending scene from the movie Inception. Here is a similar idea applied to Manhattan (via Colossal by BERG).

[Image Credit: BERG]

Soundtrack: Miles Davis improvising on LCD Soundsystem 

Chart of the Day

(click on the image to enlarge it)

[Image Credit: US Census Bureau]

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tracking Trash

Using active self-reporting tags, the authors followed 2,000 objects through Seattle's waste management system. By making the waste "removal chain" more transparent, they help reveal the disposal process of everyday objects, highlighting potential inefficiencies in the current removal system.

This paper is one of the publications from 'Trash Track', a research project led by Carlo Ratti at the MIT SENSEable City Lab. I haven't read the paper. Still, this empirical strategy sounds as one of the most sharp ideas I've heard in the last couple of years. It' a very appealing and straightforward idea and it raises great potential impact for public policy. Here is a short promotional video of the project.

ps. This is the kind of idea that makes you think: "This is so obvious! Why haven't I thought of this before?"

Friday, May 3, 2013

Music for the weekend

Gilberto Gil - "Back in Bahia" (1972)

Data on educational attainment and quality

For those interested in education research and policy, I'd like to share two recent papers on educational attainment and quality:

By the way, these databases have recently been updated (and they are available for download)

Using Cell-Phone Data to Improve our Cities

Imagine what questions you could answer if you had access to movement data collected from millions of cell-phone users. These kind of data bring and endless potential for research in several areas such as transportation, epidemiology, social networks and civil defense. MIT is holding this week the NetMob 2013 Conference, a conference focused on mobile phone data analysis. There are several interesting papers that are really pushing the envelope.

A paper by Francesco Calabrese and colleagues stands out as they have developed an interactive system to optimize public transit networks using mobile phone data under the Orange D4D Challenge*. Still, I believe there's something to improve in using such kind of data in a way that differentiates people from higher and lower income groups.

*Orange, a big telecom carrier, lauched a challenge last year called "Data for Development" (D4D). In short, you could send them a 250-words research project and get access within a week to a really large mobile phone dataset containing 2.5 billion records (calls and text messages) exchanged between 5 million anonymous users in Ivory Cost. Many papers presented at NetMob 2013 Conference were developed using Orange D4D data.

By the way, the Senseable City Lab (MIT) is also working on a related project (Signature of Humanity) trying to look at mobility patterns comparing New York, London, and Hong Kong. Here's a promotional video: