Every Sunday I put together a summary of the stories that stuck with me from the past week. The newsletter is a diverse read, covering tech, sports, stats, econ, and more. Interested? Subscribe below.
- The Only Probability Cheatsheet You'll Ever Need
- After trying to build self-driving tractors for more than 20 years, John Deere has learned a hard truth about autonomy (Quartz)
- Generalists Dominate Data Science (Data Syndrome Blog)
- Does “buying local” help communities or conflict with basic economics? (OUP Blog)
- Advice for graduates applying for data science jobs (Mikhail Popov)
Fantasy gaming can be better than reality (Tim Harford)
Economists have discovered games! Or at least their effect on employment statistics. As the U.S. nears full employment, 20-something men have not returned to the labor force. Gaming is blamed.
2017 Mid-Year Esports Industry Predictions: What’s Next? (eSports Edition)
Streamers flock to YouTube Live, but the money (and crowd) is still at Twitch (TechCrunch)
Twitch has over 250K monthly streamers while YouTube is at about 75K.
The Democratic Party’s Looming Fundraising Crisis (Politico)
To summarize Politico:
- The RNC has out-raised the DNC by $75M to $38M in 2017, with Republicans benefiting from a tide of small, "grass-roots" donations.
- Success with small donors is a sign the GOP has not only co-opted but in fact perfected Barack Obama era tactics.
- On the other side, the Democrats are struggling with messaging: one Dem email campaign was found to have actually decreased donations by 15% versus a holdout.
"Crisis" is probably an overreaction. Congressional midterms aren't until 2018, and there's plenty more time for White House scandals to boost fundraising fervor. In addition, election spending itself seems to have plateaued. This makes sense due to the rise of online advertising: it's now rather cheap to reach the voters your campaign cares about. Rather than panic over raw fundraising totals, the best strategy for Democrats is therefore to focus on optimizing ad targeting and ad frequency (both online and off). A clear message that reaches likely voters regularly but not incessantly can make up for any cash deficit...probably.
The perfect site for people like me who want to keep up with economics research without having to actually read economics papers. Some recent favorites:
Cultural change and intergenerational transmission: Some lessons from China’s Cultural Revolution
Interesting study design analyzing how parents' beliefs on value of education and trust of government transfer to children.
Investing in public infrastructure: Roads versus schools
What economists study: A guide for the curious
Taylor Swift’s ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ just broke two streaming records (WashPo)
Song review: Not her best work, but certainly better than some of Katy Perry's efforts.
'Reputation' bull case: Jack Antonoff is a good producer, Swift has never had an album dud, and her lead singles are not indicative of album quality (e.g. "Shake It Off" was not even a top five song from 1989).
'Reputation' bear case: Swift's previous albums all followed a logical trajectory across the country-pop spectrum. 1989 was really the culmination of this transition, so the new album will have to do something else. Taylor's beef with Kimye is much less compelling/relevant in the age of Trump. Very few artists remain interesting by their sixth album.