📖 I’m 10% done reading Economy, Society, and Public Policy by CORE Team

Finished chapter one. I like that this text has so many linked resources, but some of the links to the sister texts make me think I’d be getting a deeper and more technical understanding by reading them instead of this more introductory text. Still, this has some tremendous value even as a refresher.


Annotations from Unit 1 Capitalism and democracy: Affluence, inequality, and the environment

Government bodies also tend to be more limited in their capacity to expand if successful, and are usually protected from failure if they perform poorly.

They can expand in different ways however. Think about the expansion of empires of Egypt, Rome, and the Mongols in the 12th Century. What caused them to cease growing and decrease? What allowed them to keep increasing?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:50PM


Capitalism is an economic system that can combine centralization with decentralization.

How can we analogize this with the decentralization of the web and its economy?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:50PM


Market competition provides a mechanism for weeding out those who underperform.

Note how this has failed in the current guilded age of the United States where it is possible for things to be “too big to fail”.
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:50PM


First, because capital goods do not fall from the sky: all countries that have successfully moved from poverty to affluence have done so, of necessity, by accumulating large amounts of capital. We will also see that a crucial feature of capitalism is who owns and controls the capital goods in an economy.

Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 03:11PM


Yet some things that we value are not private property—for example, the air we breathe and most of the knowledge we use cannot be owned, bought, or sold.

Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:49PM


We should be sceptical when anyone claims that something complex (capitalism) ‘causes’ something else (increased living standards, technological improvement, a networked world, or environmental challenges), just because we can see there is a correlation.

Great and ridiculous examples of this can be found at https://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 08:59PM


Figure 1.16 Graph with y-axis that jumps around in scale

Note the dramatic inconsistency of the scale on the left hand side. What is going on here?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:23PM


Firms should not be owned and managed by people who survive because of their connections to government or their privileged birth: Capitalism is dynamic when owners or managers succeed because they are good at delivering high-quality goods and services at a competitive price. This is more likely to be a failure when the other two factors above are not working well.

Here is where we’re likely to fail in the United States by following the example of Donald Trump, who ostensibly has survived solely off the wealth of his father’s dwindling empire. With that empire gone, he’s now turning to creating wealth by associating with the government. We should carefully follow where this potentially leads the country.
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:31PM


In some, their spending on goods and services as well as on transfers like unemployment benefits and pensions, accounts for more than half of GDP.

What is the Government’s proportion of the US GDP presently?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:34PM


James Bronterre O’Brien, told the people:‘Knaves will tell you that it is because you have no property, you are unrepresented. I tell you on the contrary, it is because you are unrepresented that you have no property …’

great quote
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:53PM


Yet some things that we value are not private property—for example, the air we breathe and most of the knowledge we use cannot be owned, bought, or sold.

Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:49PM

Read Feed readers/content aggregators by Dan MacKinlay (danmackinlay.name)
Upon the efficient consumption and summarizing of news from around the world.

Facebook is informative in the same way that thumb sucking is nourishing.

Annotated on February 09, 2020 at 10:28AM

Upon the efficient consumption and summarizing of news from around the world.
Remember? from when we though the internet would provide us timely, pertinent information from around the world?
How do we find internet information in a timely fashion?
I have been told to do this through Twitter or Facebook, but, seriously… no. Those are systems designed to waste time with stupid distractions in order to benefit someone else. Facebook is informative in the same way that thumb sucking is nourishing. Telling me to use someone’s social website to gain information is like telling me to play poker machines to fix my financial troubles. Stop that.

Annotated on February 09, 2020 at 10:40AM

Bookmarked Blogroll by Dan MacKinlay (danmackinlay.name)

Make your own automatic blogroll

This is the script I use to generate a blogroll from my OPML:

#! /usr/bin/env python3
"""
Parse OPML into markdown.
"""
import sys
import re
from xml.etree import ElementTree


def main(fname):
    with open(fname, 'r', encoding='utf8') as fp:
        tree = ElementTree.parse(fp)
    for cat_node in tree.find('body').findall('outline'):
        print("\n## {}\n".format(cat_node.get('title')))
        for node in cat_node.findall('outline'):
            name = node.attrib.get('text')
            feedurl = node.attrib.get('xmlUrl')
            url = node.attrib.get('htmlUrl')
            print("* [{}]({}) ([feed]({}))".format(name, url, feedurl))


if __name__ == "__main__":
    main(*sys.argv[1:])
Annotated Blogroll by Dan MacKinlay (danmackinlay.name)
ITBio – Chris Aldrich (feed)
Hey, wait! He’s not only following me, but a very distinct subset of my posts! 🙂

This is the first time I’ve ever seen someone indicate that they’ve done this in the wild.

I’ll also admit that this is a really great looking blogroll too! I’m going to have to mine it for the bunch of feeds that I’m not already following. 

Annotated The Dan MacKinlay family of variably-well-considered enterprises by Dan MacKinlayDan MacKinlay (danmackinlay.name)
A statistician is the exact same thing as a data scientist or machine learning researcher with the differences that there are qualifications needed to be a statistician, and that we are snarkier.
Read Why the media is so polarized — and how it polarizes us by Ezra Klein (Vox)
The following is an excerpt from Ezra Klein’s new book, Why We’re Polarized, published by Simon & Schuster and available January 28. We talk a lot about the left/right divide in political media.
Okay, I’m in. Ordering the book. 

Originally bookmarked on January 29, 2020 at 06:42AM

Added annotations


This is a damning result: The more political media you absorb, the more warped your perspective of the other side becomes.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 01:51PM


Chris Hayes, who anchors MSNBC’s 8 pm newscast and is among the most thoughtful, civic-minded journalists in the industry, referenced a Will Ferrell joke from Anchorman 2 on his podcast, saying, “What if instead of telling people the things they need to know, we tell them what they want to know?” That is, he says, “the creation story of cable news.”

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 01:57PM


But we don’t just want people to read our work. We want people to spread our work — to be so moved by what we wrote or said that they log on to Facebook and share it with their friends or head over to Reddit and try to tell the world. That’s how you get those dots to multiply. But people don’t share quiet voices. They share loud voices. They share work that moves them, that helps them express to their friends who they are and how they feel. Social platforms are about curating and expressing a public-facing identity. They’re about saying, “I’m a person who cares about this, likes that, and loathes this other thing.” They are about signaling the groups you belong to and, just as important, the groups you don’t belong to.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 01:59PM


When we talk about political media, we tend to cut a sharp line between the political elites who create the media and the audience that consumes it. But that’s a mistake. No one consumes more political, and politicized, media than political elites. This is part of the reason political media has an enormous effect on politics, even though only a small fraction of the country regularly consumes it.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 02:08PM


Politics is, first and foremost, driven by the people who pay the most attention and wield the most power — and those people opt in to extraordinarily politicized media. They then create the political system they perceive.

How can we push it back so that the power stems from the people? How could we up-end the current system?
Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 02:10PM

Read Take the Quiz: Could You Manage as a Poor American? (New York Times)
See whether you make the kinds of mistakes that can cost poor families food or health insurance.
This is some horrid evidence. 

From a web development perspective, I love the way the mail in this article moves as you scroll. It adds to the overall effect of the story here.

Originally bookmarked on January 29, 2020 at 06:39AM


Debates about how to structure these programs have long been influenced by a related economic assumption: The more people really need a benefit, the more effort they’ll put into getting it. “For decades, economists had this view that burdens could quote-‘help’ separate out those that are what one calls truly disadvantaged versus those who might be more marginally needy,” said Hilary Hoynes, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of California, Berkeley. “Our current research suggests it could be exactly the opposite.” These burdens, she suggested, may instead be tripping up the worst off: hourly workers who can’t shuffle their schedules for a meeting; parents dealing with domestic violence, disabilities or low literacy; families without bank accounts to automate monthly payments; households already facing unpaid bills and late notices when another urgent letter arrives in the mail.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 11:12AM


It can be easier to apply for farm subsidies than it is to get SNAP benefits, said Joel Berg, a former official with the Department of Agriculture, the agency that administers both programs.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 11:14AM


Read Electric Book Works: Producing The Economy: a case study in multi-format book production by Arthur Attwell (Electric Book Works)
Very rarely, a book-maker gets to add new tricks to the 500-year-old craft of book-making. We got to do that in producing The Economy.
This is an awesome piece with some good overview of dovetailing some of the issues between physical and digital publishing. Some good resources here to check out.

Originally bookmarked on January 28, 2020 at 01:55PM


Notice how print books have remained ad-free in an age when every other available surface carries advertising – something about print books has kept them immune from the disease of advertising.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 09:58AM


Books as websites can be public goods in a way that printed books cannot, especially for the poor.

Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 09:59AM


There are other great teams doing similar work: PressBooks uses a WordPress backend for online book and website development. Booktype, which has been around for a long time, also uses a browser-based editing workflow to produce HTML and PDF books. PubSweet is developing a modular editorial workflow, optimised, for now, for journals and monographs. The MagicBook project is being used at New York University. And our Electric Book workflow uses on- and offline static-site generation to make print and digital books.

Nice list of tools for digital publishing for the book space.
Annotated on February 04, 2020 at 10:01AM

Replied to Our Social Media is Broken. Is Decentralization the Fix? by Wendy Hanamura (Internet Archive Blogs)
We agree. Much work has been done and some of the fundamentals are in place. So on January 21, 2020 the Internet Archive hosted “Exploring Decentralized Social Media,” a DWeb SF Meetup that attracted 120+ decentralized tech builders, founders, and those who just wanted to learn more. Decentralized social media app builders from London, Portland and San Francisco took us on a tour of where their projects are today.
Something important to notice about this article. Not a single person here is linked to using their own website, or via a link to their presence on any of their respective decentralized networks. All the people whose names are linked are linked to on Twitter. All of the people who’ve written pieces or articles linked to in this piece are writing on Medium.com and not on their own sites/platforms. How can we honestly be getting anywhere if there isn’t even a basic identity for any of these people on any of these decentralized networks? At least most of the projects seem to have websites, so that’s a start. But are any of them dogfooding their own products to do so? I suspect not.

I’ll circle back around shortly to watch the video of the event that they recorded. I’m curious what else they’ve got hiding in there.

Interestingly, I’ll note that it appears that my site will at least somewhat federate with the Internet Archive’s as they support pingback. (Great to see technology from almost 20 years ago works just as well as some of these new methods…)

Graber helped us understand the broad categories of what’s out there: federated protocols such as ActivityPub and Matrix; peer-to-peer protocols such as Scuttlebutt, and social media apps that utilize blockchain in some way for  monetization, provenance or storage.

Missing from this list is a lot of interop work done by the IndieWeb over the past decade.
Annotated on February 03, 2020 at 06:48PM

Thought leader and tech executive, John Ryan, provided valuable historical context both onstage and in his recent blog. He compared today’s social media platforms to telephone services in 1900. Back then, a Bell Telephone user couldn’t talk to an AT&T customer; businesses had to have multiple phone lines just to converse with their clients. It’s not that different today, Ryan asserts, when Facebook members can’t share their photos with Renren’s 150 million account holders. All of these walled gardens, he said, need a “trusted intermediary” layer to become fully interconnected.

An apt analogy which I’ve used multiple times in the past.
Annotated on February 03, 2020 at 06:50PM

Read Polite Toolbox (www.polite.one)
Polite is a part think tank, and part studio focused on the ethical renaissance of the Internet. We have designed the Polite Toolbox.

We advocate for a Slow Web Movement.
We are what we eat, and we are also what we consume online.
Data-driven advertising, BlackBox algorithms, and the competition between Big Tech to keep us “engaged“ has created an addiction to low-value content. It is time to reset our digital consumption and create healthier habits.
Since the last decade, with a set of guidelines, the Slow Web Movement is changing Software to make it care about us again.
Think of it as the equivalent of “Organic” for Technology.

As solid a pitch for the slow web movement as I’ve seen yet from an analogy perspective.
Annotated on February 01, 2020 at 09:13AM

The right to Non-manipulative design.

see also dark patterns.
Annotated on February 01, 2020 at 09:14AM

Annotated How to Highlight the Internet by Andrew Courter (Medium)
Screenshots are disposable, but highlights are forever.
Highlighting this sentence on the Highly blog (on Medium) ironically using Hypothes.is. I’m syndicating a copy over to my own website because I know that most social services are not long for this world. The only highlights that live forever are the ones you keep on your own website or another location that you own and control.

RIP Highly.
Viva IndieWeb!

📖 I’m 4% done reading Economy, Society, and Public Policy by CORE Team

Read sections 1.0-1.3. I’m loving the graphs, charts, videos, and supplementary interactive material they’re including in the book. It’s completely fascinating and quite a different reading experience on a computer versus either paper or e-reader.

Having immediate access to data like this make for a more interesting Economics experience.


Annotations from Unit 1 Capitalism and democracy: Affluence, inequality, and the environment

Cyril Ramaphosa

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyril_Ramaphosa
Annotated on January 30, 2020 at 12:00PM

PPP

PPP stands for Purchasing Power Parity
How to Calculate and Use Purchasing Power Parity – PPP
Annotated on January 30, 2020 at 12:07PM

But some have taller skyscrapers at the back, meaning a greater disparity between the top 10% and the rest of the population, whereas others have a less steep profile.

It might be more interesting if the top decile in each country were broken into tenths to show the even more severe disparities. I suspect that some of the height differences would be even more drastic if we could see the top 1% or even the top 0.1% on these graphs.
Annotated on January 30, 2020 at 12:36PM

A thousand years ago, the world was flat, economically speaking.

I don’t think we have to go back even this far. If I recall correctly, even 150 years ago the vast majority of the world’s population were subsistence farmers. It’s only been since the 20th century and the increasing spread of the industrial revolution that the situation has changed:

Even England remained primarily an agrarian country like all tributary societies for the previous 4,000 years, with ca. 50 percent of its population employed in agriculture as late as 1759.

–David Christian, Maps of Time (pp 401) quoting from Crafts, British Economic Growth, pp. 13–14. (See also Fig 13.1 Global Industrial Potential from the same, for a graphical indicator.
Annotated on January 30, 2020 at 01:03PM

If you have never seen an ice-hockey stick (or experienced ice hockey) this shape is why we call these figures ‘hockey-stick curves’.

I’m glad they’ve included an image of a hockey stick to provide the context here, but I’ve always thought of it rotated so that the blade was on the ground and the sharp angle of the handle itself indicated the exponential growth curve!
Annotated on January 30, 2020 at 01:18PM

Annotated Unequal Scenes - USA (unequalscenes.com)

"Some inequality of income and wealth is inevitable, if not necessary. If an economy is to function well, people need incentives to work hard and innovate.The pertinent question is not whether income and wealth inequality is good or bad. It is at what point do these inequalities become so great as to pose a serious threat to our economy, our ideal of equal opportunity and our democracy."
—Robert Reich

An important observation. What might create such a tipping point? Is there a way to look back at these things historically to determine the most common factors that would create such tipping points?
Annotated Economy, Society and Public Policy (core-econ.org)
Economy, Society and Public Policy (an open textbook)
David Brancaccio and the kind folks at Marketplace are doing a public virtual bookclub with this book as their text for twelve weeks through the Spring of 2020.

Given the complexity of the subject and the public nature, I might suggest that they consider using the opensource and free Hypothes.is platform as an academic discussion tool for allowing everyone to highlight, annotate, and respond to the text and conversations?

I suspect the Hypothesis team would be happy to do a quick run through of their platform as well as potentially creating a private group if they preferred.

This link is an example of an annotation on the text.

Read Eliminating the Human by David ByrneDavid Byrne (MIT Technology Review)
We are beset by—and immersed in—apps and devices that are quietly reducing the amount of meaningful interaction we have with each other.
This piece makes a fascinating point about people and interactions. It’s the sort of thing that many in the design and IndieWeb communities should read and think about as they work.

I came to it via an episode of the podcast The Happiness Lab.

The consumer technology I am talking about doesn’t claim or acknowledge that eliminating the need to deal with humans directly is its primary goal, but it is the outcome in a surprising number of cases. I’m sort of thinking maybe it is the primary goal, even if it was not aimed at consciously.

Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:35AM

Most of the tech news we get barraged with is about algorithms, AI, robots, and self-driving cars, all of which fit this pattern. I am not saying that such developments are not efficient and convenient; this is not a judgment. I am simply noticing a pattern and wondering if, in recognizing that pattern, we might realize that it is only one trajectory of many. There are other possible roads we could be going down, and the one we’re on is not inevitable or the only one; it has been (possibly unconsciously) chosen.

Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:36AM

What I’m seeing here is the consistent “eliminating the human” pattern.

This seems as apt a name as any.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:39AM

“Social” media: This is social interaction that isn’t really social. While Facebook and others frequently claim to offer connection, and do offer the appearance of it, the fact is a lot of social media is a simulation of real connection.

Perhaps this is one of the things I like most about the older blogosphere and it’s more recent renaissance with the IndieWeb idea of Webmentions, a W3C recommendation spec for online interactions? While many of the interactions I get are small nods in the vein of likes, favorites, or reposts, some of them are longer, more visceral interactions.

My favorite just this past week was a piece that I’d worked on for a few days that elicited a short burst of excitement from someone who just a few minutes later wrote a reply that was almost as long as my piece itself.

To me this was completely worth the effort and the work, not because of the many other smaller interactions, but because of the human interaction that resulted. Not to mention that I’m still thinking out a reply still several days later.

This sort of human social interaction also seems to be at the heart of what Manton Reece is doing with micro.blog. By leaving out things like reposts and traditional “likes”, he’s really creating a human connection network to fix what traditional corporate social media silos have done to us. This past week’s episode of Micro Monday underlines this for us. (#)
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:52AM

Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist at USC wrote about a patient he called Elliot, who had damage to his frontal lobe that made him unemotional. In all other respects he was fine—intelligent, healthy—but emotionally he was Spock. Elliot couldn’t make decisions. He’d waffle endlessly over details. ­Damasio concluded that although we think decision-­making is rational and machinelike, it’s our emotions that enable us to actually decide.

Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:56AM

And in the meantime, if less human interaction enables us to forget how to cooperate, then we lose our advantage.

It may seem odd, but I think a lot of the success of the IndieWeb movement and community is exactly this: a group of people has come together to work and interact and increase our abilities to cooperate to make something much bigger, more diverse, and more interesting than any of us could have done separately.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:58AM

Remove humans from the equation, and we are less complete as people and as a society.

Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:59AM

A version of this piece originally appeared on his website, davidbyrne.com.

This piece seems so philosophical, it seems oddly trivial that I see this note here and can’t help but think about POSSE and syndication.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 11:01AM