Managing

by Harry on March 14, 2009

Somewhere back in the mists of time, I seem to remember our own Daniel criticized academics for not taking seriously the fact that management is a job, something that can be done badly or well (the only cite I can find is here, but I’ll link to the long version if someone finds it for me, if, that is, it isn’t something I just dreamed). I suspect that there are two (respectable) reasons for this. One is that academic managers are drawn from the ranks of academics and given little if any training. This narrow pool has already selected out a lot of people who might actually be good at it, and as a result academics rarely get to experience good management directly. Second, management is something that is much easier to recognise as a real and important skill if you have seen some good examples of it than if you have only seen bad or indifferent examples. (I think of it as a bit like my experience with dental work; the first time I had work done with a good anaesthetic it was something I couldn’t possibly have imagined before).

Here’s a long post from aaron swartz which I recommend to all who doubt that management is an important skill, and recommend, even more, to anyone who is being thrown into management tasks without much training or help, especially in an environment with unclear lines of authority and/or an anti-authority culture. If you’re planning to become principal of a school its all useful, but you might especially want to look at Point 2a and Point 9.

Survey data on Internet uses

by Eszter Hargittai on March 14, 2009

New Pew Internet & American Life siteThe Pew Internet & American Life Project (PIP), a very important source on data about Americans’ Internet uses, has completely revamped its Web site. Among other things, it is now even easier to download their data than before. These are made available in SPSS format only. I use StatTransfer in such cases (for conversion to Stata), any other tools that have worked well for folks?

They also have a handy tool for searching their data base of questions. We’ve been working on something similar in my lab for a bunch of Internet-related surveys although stopped the process due to lack of funding. Pew was smart to work with the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at UCONN on this since they have so much experience in this domain. Perhaps worthy of note is the fact that a search on the same term on the Roper and the PIP sites does not yield the same results. While some Pew data seem to be available through the Roper site, these seem to originate from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and not from PIP. That’s something to keep in mind when looking for Internet-related data.

For those not interested in accessing the raw data directly, PIP’s full reports continue to be easily available by topic on the site as are some stand-alone figures from these. Overall, the amount of material PIP is making easily available is a wonderful resource so many thanks to the great folks there!

Nerd alert

by John Quiggin on March 14, 2009

According the Wikipedia front page yesterday “… author Guillaume Prévost created The Book of Time series to help children understand that history can be fascinating?”

I wonder how many readers, at the critical point in this sentence, expected “econometrics” in the place of “history”? I think I need to get out more.

Weird

by John Holbo on March 14, 2009

Didn’t feel like bidding in that other auction I linked? Maybe this one, then.

Bonds beat stocks

by John Quiggin on March 14, 2009

This Bloomberg story gets the headline (“Bonds beat stocks in earth-shattering reversal”) right., but the lead (or lede) wrong. The intro “Buying 30-year Treasuries is returning more than stocks for the first time since Jimmy Carter was president. ” is wrong – bonds have beaten stocks in quite a few years since then.

Bonds beat stocks (Bloomberg)

Bonds beat stocks (Bloomberg)

The finding in the chart is much more dramatic, to the point that “earth-shattering” is justifiable hyperbole. What it shows is that, over the entire period since 1979, a strategy of buying 30-bonds (trading so that the portfolio always holds the most recently issued bond) has outperformed the strategy of buying stocks and reinvesting the dividends.

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