Articles based on using this statistical method need warning labels

original article

The Crusade Against Multiple Regression Analysis
A Conversation With Richard Nisbett
edge.org
January 21, 2016
BigThink.com

A huge range of science projects are done with multiple regression analysis. The results are often somewhere between meaningless and quite damaging, according to Richard Nisbett. In this wide-ranging conversation he explains why the correlational (observational) evidence so often deviates from the experimental evidence.

image from amazon.com Dots added by me.
image from amazon.com
Dots added by me.

Later in the interview he takes on the inability to replicate a lot of social psychology ‘cueing’ experiments. That many are irreplicable doesn’t bother him. He says “We may sometimes describe a particular experiment as an example of some point, and that particular experiment might not replicate, but the theory that the experiment exemplifies has been established in any number of different experimental contexts.” The entire conversation is peppered with descriptions of intriguing exemplar experiments. My favorite – put dots on the coffee urn in a pattern that looks like human eyes and people will contribute more money to the coffee expense jar. Really? (Michalko)

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What outcomes get improved by machine learning?

original article

Companies Are Reimagining Business Processes with Algorithms
by H. James Wilson and Allan Alter  and Prashant Shukla
HBR.org
February 08, 2016

 In this post the authors describe the new re-engineering of business processes that is occurring because of the power of machine learning and algorithms that get better as they are used. The first round of process re-engineering occurred in the 90’s as businesses brought to bear information technology. This round is different say the authors, “With machine-reengineering, process changes are constant and driven not just by history but also by the predictive capabilities of machine-learning algorithms.” They try to determine if the type of machine learning employed contributes to particular types of business success such as customer satisfaction or revenue.
I agreed with the authors when they observed that the first round of process engineering was too aggressive and tried to change too many processes simultaneously. That created problems and rough patches before the benefits kicked in. The interactive graphs get across their observations nicely. (Michalko)

 

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You better explain yourself to the UPS driver

original article

Algorithms and the (Incomplete) Stories They Tell Us
UX Magazine
by Jason Goodhand
January 25, 2016

The author of this post contends that “the stories algorithms provide must be designed to create true value for people, or we miss the great potential of IoT and the data it provides.” He explains three ways in which algorithms under-deliver on the value they promise – gaps in the data, over-optimization, and opaque intelligence.

The three examples Goodhand uses to illustrate these algorithm failures are compelling. I was particularly taken by the United Parcel Service routing algorithm example. It’s intelligence was so opaque that drivers mistrusted the instructions and would override the directions. For more about the UPS Orion project read this: At UPS, the Algorithm Is the Driver – WSJ  (Michalko)

 

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Car Talk puzzlers are often good examples of this

original article

Algorithm March from Youtube
Algorithm March from YouTube

How to Teach Yourself About Algorithms
slate.com Future Tense blog
by
February 9, 2016

The author asks ‘Have you ever thrown around the word algorithm without knowing what it means?” While you constantly hear people complain or marvel at the [Facebook/Netflix/Google/etc.] algorithm they usually don’t understand what it is. Golbeck thinks that “as algorithms gain increasing importance in our lives, it’s critical for everyone to have a very basic understanding of what they are.” Her article tries to provide that basic understanding.

I admire this kind of article that takes what might be a daunting topic and explains it easily enough for the moderately-motivated reader to come away with a basic understanding. Check out her very cogent explanation of the binary search algorithm.

This Future Tense article is part of a series called Futurography which introduces readers to the technologies that will define tomorrow. Each month from January through June 2016, they choose a new technology and break it down. Futurography is the product of a joint effort among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. You can guess at the ASU and Slate motivations. But I never heard of New America – part of their mission is to identify and nurture public intellectuals. Wow. (Michalko)

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Manifesto, Illustration and Metaphor

Also Turning 20 Years Old Today: John Perry Barlow’s Declaration Of The Independence Of Cyberspace | Techdirt

How Arthur Rackham’s 1907 Drawings for Alice in Wonderland Revolutionized the Carroll Classic, the Technology of Book Art, and the Economics of Illustration – Brain Pickings

Should You Literally Pick the Low-Hanging Fruit?|priceonomics

  • The first because if you haven’t read it recently you should. It is of the same vintage as the Stewart Brand aphorisim (Information wants to be free). Both are more nuanced than the small quoted bits that float around the interwebs.
  • The second because I love Alice and this is a fascinating back story.
  • The third because it explores the metaphorical origins and then unpacks its literal meaning. (Michalko)
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Digital advertising and aggregation theory

original article

The Reality of Missing Out
stratechery.com
February 9, 2016

In this post Ben Thompson provides a brief history of analog advertising, digital advertising 1.0 and 2.0 concluding with the implications of Winner-Takes-All. He nicely parses how the awareness-consideration-conversion-loyalty cycle was impacted differently during these three evolutionary stages of advertising.

from stratechery.com
from stratechery.com

Have you ever wondered why retailers thought it was a good idea to have that item you looked at on the web follow you around from site to site? This piece will explain. And he is very articulate about why in this environment there is a tendency towards monopoly positions. This piece led me to another post he titled Aggregation Theory in which he observes “the Internet has made transaction costs zero, making it viable for a distributor to integrate forward with end users/consumers at scale.” This shift in transaction costs is one of the major drivers that has changed the value proposition of the library and shaped future library development. This is nicely explored in the piece Collection Directions: The Evolution of Library Collections and Collecting by my colleagues Lorcan Dempsey, Constance Malpas and Brian Lavoie. (Michalko)

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Three trends that will reshape the world – maybe

original article

The Rise Of Millennials, Crowdsourcing, And Automation Are Going To Reshape The World
fastcoexist.com
by Clara Shih
February 3, 2016

The author focuses on  three big consumer technology trends that will impact the way we do business in 2016 and beyond. They are:

  1. Millennials’ spending power will hasten consumption shifts
  2. Crowdsourcing and reviews will become a two­-way street
  3. Automation technology will replace—or at least transform—many jobs

You should still read this brief article (4 minutes) to see if you agree. Her assertions seem right to me although I am a bit skeptical about her expectation that truly effective automated personal assistants will emerge. We’ve been promised that for a long time. Jetpacks anyone? (Michalko)

P.S. Smithsonian Magazine has some nifty video and photos of jetpack pilots featured at the Super Bowl

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Optimal humans listen to that nagging

original article

How to Be an Optimal Human
By Scott Barry Kaufman
blogs.scientificamerican.com
February 7, 2016

What does it take to be an optimal human being? In this review of Optimal Human Being by psychologist Ken Sheldon  Kaufman summarizes the arguments and provides science-informed suggestions to help you have greater health, growth, and happiness.

This is a RILR (review in lieu of reading) and a pretty good one. The book synthesizes the latest science at different levels of analysis (evolutionary, personality, goals/motives, self and identity construction, social relations, and cultural membership) and suggests how to achieve integration and harmony across the various aspects of your life. Kaufman nicely breaks this down into eight precepts that he briefly glosses. Some are cliches – “Take responsibility for your goals and choices” – that need to be unpacked to regain any power. Others are just baffling even with his explanation – ” Listen to your “organismic valuing process” and be prepared to change your goals if it seems necessary.” I was glad to have the disclaimer at the very end: “To be clear, by “optimal”, psychologists are not making a value judgment, or saying you should definitely live your life a certain way. It’s up to you how you wish to live your life. Instead, what they are saying is that those who seem to have optimal health, growth, and happiness do tend to have certain characteristics, and therefore we have a lot we can learn from such individuals.” (Michalko)

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Why are we reluctant to measure what matters most?

original article
Measuring What Matters

Jan. 4, 2016
Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR)
The authors say that “The very real need to determine how best to allocate foundations’ limited resources requires generating robust performance measures that drive accountability, learning, and impact—for each and every grant.” They provide five grant performance measurement traps and describe how to avoid them.
This is interesting because most of us are on the opposite side of this concern. We are the potential grantees seeking to succeed at getting our proposed work funded. It’s good to see this process through the eyes of the foundation officer and the grant-making agency. Understanding their needs and success measurement should hone our proposals both for impact and for success. I have certainly fallen into  “The At-Least-It’s-Measurable Trap”.(Michalko)
P.S. I think the SSIR is a very well-done magazine with thoughtful complementary bloggers. It’s worth subscribing to their newsletter.
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Density, Dinner, Design

Meerkats at San Diego Zoo
Meerkats at San Diego Zoo (youtube)

SearCh for humourIstic and Extravagant acroNyms and Thoroughly Inappropriate names For Important Clinical trials (SCIENTIFIC): qualitative and quantitative systematic study | The BMJ Constance Malpas

Carnivores try to get prey out of a box, not all succeed (VIDEO)|Slate.com

Map Envisions What a Worldwide Subway System Would Be Like | WIRED

  • The first because it addresses a particular dimension of what my colleague, Lorcan Dempsey, in 2004 christened ‘Acronymic Density‘. It is academic satire of a high order. Who hasn’t bristled at acronyms that are the result of the ‘Tolstoy Maneuver’? The title of the article is an example of that technique.
  • The second because who hasn’t done something similar to their pet cat or dog? This confirms that meerkats mistakenly think cuteness is a survival tactic.
  • The third because I love subways. Transferring at Lincoln Center for the Robespierre stop in Paris would be wonderful. (Michalko)
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