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Category Archives: Technology

World Bank to Bloggers: Drop Dead

UPDATE: Bill receives WDR2011 in Sunday 12:30pm email from World Bank. Should we complain now that he is getting special treatment?

This morning we learned that the World Bank does not consider bloggers journalists. According to Bank policy, it won’t give press accreditation to bloggers, denying them access to the media briefing center where new reports are released under embargo before they are published for the public.

In this case, the report we won’t be…

Also posted in Meta | Tagged | 27 Comments

Twitter and Income Distribution

UPDATE 11:35am: don’t think I obsess about Twitter numbers (see end of post)

I posted a link on Twitter to yesterday’s great post by Laura: ”Does Japan need your donation?”. A little while later the traffic on Aid Watch exploded. Being still pretty clueless about social media, I didn’t know why. Much later in the day, the reason became apparent — it had made it into @TopTweets Favorites, which I had never heard of  but…

Also posted in Data and statistics | Tagged , | 5 Comments

How Ignorance dooms Autocracy

TierType of knowledgeRecommended actionsSystemCompatible with autocracy?
(1)Certainty (known knowns)Just do itAdministrationYes
(2)Probability (known unknowns)Hypothesis testingAcademic freedomTemporarily Yes, eventually No
(3)Ignorance (unknown unknowns)Decentralized feedback and accountabilityIndividual libertyNo
Also posted in Democracy and freedom | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Instead of the Iron Curtain, the Facebook Curtain

This map shows the pattern of Facebook friendship links across places around the world, with lots of white where there are very dense links across nearby places. The map was created by a Facebook intern, and I learned about it (where else?) on Facebook (HT Mari Kuraishi).

One interesting pattern is a kind of Facebook Curtain somewhat related to the old Iron Curtain. The whole area including the former Soviet Union and China, along with…

Also posted in Data and statistics, Maps | Tagged | 21 Comments

US Government asks all governments to respect World Press & Internet Freedom except for US Government

From wonkette (HT David Zetland), the State Department has announced with impeccable timing (what is that Wikileaks thing?) and deafness to irony:

The theme for next year’s commemoration {of World Press Freedom Day} will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events,

Also posted in Democracy and freedom, Satire and parodies | 12 Comments

The Rock Star theory of rising inequality and development successes

from Alan Krueger’s study of “Rockonomics”

Top 1% Rock Stars are getting more and more of Rock Income.

The explanation? Cheaper audio equipment means top stars can capture more of the market. Why listen to the second-rate stars when the first-rate produce an unlimited number of recordings for you to listen to them? (And then you want to go to their concerts too?)

Does this have something to do with the general rise in inequality in…

Also posted in Big ideas | 6 Comments

Technology history don’t lie

Yours truly has a crazy new article in the latest issue of Foreign Policy on why no-tech ancient civilizations still can’t catch up, based on my published research with Diego Comin and Erick Gong. But all is not doom and gloom, you just have to learn the right lessons from technology history:

As China’s history has shown, when governments stop killing innovation, good things happen. Technological change has also dramatically speeded up, and

Also posted in Academic research | 11 Comments

The Communist version of Facebook

see here.

7 Comments

How to become a feudal lord with hundreds of servants for $99

Our image of a medieval king is of somebody with hundreds of servants waiting upon His Majesty. Today, for $99, you commoners can get a much larger and better group waiting upon you. You will even have dead servants working for you – (1) Sumerians from 3000 BC (2) Babylonians from 2000 BC, (3) Egyptians from 1850 BC (4) Indians from 500 BC, (5) 7th century BC Romans, (6) 18th century Austrian musicians, (7) a…

Tagged | 9 Comments

Was the poverty of Africa determined in 1000 BC?

The usual development conversation about determinants of per capita income revolves around modern choices of institutions or economic policies. But what if history is the main determinant of development today?

A paper by Diego Comin, Erick Gong, and myself was just published in the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics. We collected crude but informative data on the state of technology in various parts of the world in 1000 BC, 0 AD, and 1500 AD.

1500…

Also posted in Academic research | Tagged | 67 Comments