Toqueville 2.0 ?

French economist Thomas Piketty is getting rock star treatment as he visits the U.S., says an article in the New York Times.  Or, at least as much rock star treatment that a practitioner of ‘the dismal science’ can realistically expect. Piketty’s new book Capital in the 21st Century is making waves, particularly among political liberals, for its thesis about the increasing concentration of wealth that he says is the outcome of free market economies. But not an inevitable outcome — Piketty is no fatalist. If governments intervene, who knows what may happen? It will be interesting to see if Piketty’s work spawns political action. Meanwhile,  fans are hailing him as a new Alexis de Toqueville … or Karl Marx.

Of the People, For the People

Libraries continue to serve The People, especially in this age of hyper-connectivity. This article  in today’s New York Times highlights the need for better services in libraries, as more Americans turn to them for help in navigating the high seas of today’s oceanic information. As a librarian in Maine is quoted as saying, “When people can’t apply for jobs or access government services because they don’t have access from home, public libraries must be there for them.” Often forgotten is the key role libraries play (and have played) in facilitating socio-economic mobility in America. Citizens also come for other types of guidance. During the recent enrollment period for Obamacare, over a thousand Nebraskans came to Omaha public libraries to learn about their insurance options and sign up. The executive director of the Omaha system enthused. “This is a wonderful example of how people come to libraries. Not just for computers and not just for Internet access. They came to us for support.” Once again, libraries prove to be a keystone in the foundation of American democratic life.

Great Books. Great Room. Prof. Sutton on Scaling Up Excellence – Thurs at 5:15pm

Prof. Bob Sutton will discuss his new book, Scaling Up Excellence – co-authored by Prof. Huggy Rao.

Thursday, April 17, 2013 at 5:15 – 6:45 pm
General Atlantic Great Room
4th floor Bass Center

Come join us for the evening with wine and cheese!

Great Books. Great Room. is an event series hosted by the GSB Library to showcase faculty publications and encourage GSB community interaction and engagement. The Library’s beautiful reading room on the 4th floor of the Bass Center sets the scene for an inviting yet informal book talk, Q&A, and reception. We look forward to seeing you at the event.

Big Data, continued

“In 15 years, if you don’t have a solid quant background, you might have a permanent pink slip”. Sobering words, from the Wall Street Journal article Big Data, Big Paycheck. Author Nikki Waller warns that Big Data is here to stay, and that if you are not a quantitative expert, you’d better brush up. According to Linda Burtch of Burtch Works, MBAs in midcareer have returned to school to up their quant skills, while young people today will be honing in on quantitative programs as undergrads and grad students. ”Someone who’s 40, they should be concerned,” opines Burtch. “Hopefully their organization will help, recognizing them as a leader and sending them back for training.” So where do you see yourself in relation to Big Data today?

Faculty Book Talk Series: First Call

At 5:15 PM on April 17 in the Great Room, 4th floor Bass Center, Prof Bob Sutton will speak on his new book Scaling Up Excellence, co-authored with Prof Huggy Rao. Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Switch and Made to Stick, comment  “If you want your organization to expand and grow without losing what makes you special, this is the book for you.  Sutton and Rao have written a must-read handbook for scaling.” This will be the second in the Library’s book talk series. Cheese and wine will be offered as refreshments. We invite the Stanford community to join us in the beautiful Great Room for this exciting event!

Big data and ER

Seems like the library blog is on a big data roll as I just saw an article titled, How Big Data Helped Cut Emergency Room Visits by 10 Percent. The article relates how in Washington state beginning in June 2012, began requiring all ERs to put details about the patients they treat into a statewide database. This allows physicians to track patients’ visits even if if they go to different emergency rooms. By doing this the ER visits have been cut by 10 percent in Washington state.

Read more about the business of healthcare in this library trending topic.

No silver bullet

The “Big Data backlash” continues …  Authors Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis in the New York Times take Big Data to task, enumerating  the logical pitfalls that can bedevil answers and inferences. The authors provide several examples of ways that mistaken connections can produce meaningless conclusions. They also highlight the infamous example of the much-hyped Google Flu Trends, which came in with a roar but has left with a whimper. Big Data’s apostles are making Big Claims these days; some argue that we might be able to accumulate enough data to actually predict the future. But Marcus, Davis and many others are calling for restraint.  No silver bullet — not yet.

Big Data, Big Mistake?

Tim Harford explores the brave new world of Big Data in the March 29/30 Financial Times Weekend edition. In ‘Big Mistake?’, Harford ruminates on the claims and the pitfalls of what some are calling a new panacea for all past deficiencies of marketing, statistical gathering, government programs and more. He examines and challenges four major claims advanced by the proponents of Big Data, in the process recounting now-classic anecdotes, such as the famous example of Google Flu Trends, and the case of the father who discovered his daughter was pregnant when Target started targeting her with baby products. Is Big Data just the latest media darling – or does it have the potential to rock our world?

Now on Bloomberg: PMI Data

Looking to chart the economic health of the manufacturing sector, today or over time?  Bloomberg has partnered with Markit to provide their complete set of PMI data (more than 3500 tickers covering multiple countries, including Emerging Markets, EU, BRIC, Japan, United Arab Emirates, UK, & US). Data include most headlines and three years of history, chartable against other economic indicators and securities. In the PMI Index, >50 = growth, <50 = contraction. Each country survey also covers changes in price, orders, inventory, and employment.  Type PMI <GO> to see a variety of PMI links, or ECWB <GO> to create charts. Note: Our Bloomberg license restricts use to current Stanford students, faculty, and staff for academic use only.

Batter up!

On Monday the new baseball season began as it does every spring. Every major league team also renews itself with new players and sometimes even new stadiums.

Forbes magazine has compiled a report named MLB Team Values: The Business of Baseball because after all they don’t play for free, it’s a business. See how much your team is worth.



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