Our blog has moved to housesofstones.com

This to let you know we will not be maintaining the blog at this site anymore. We’ve migrated all of the old posts and comments over to our new site, and have already started posting new content there.

So from now on, follow us at: housesofstones.com


Visualizing and Ranking Tourist Inequality

Go here to see the interactive maps and indices.

According to the World Tourism Organization, there were over 1 billion international tourists in 2012. Many, but not all, of those travellers began their trips by acquiring a tourist visa. So to a degree, tourist visas play an important role in determining where you can and cannot easily travel around the world. About a month ago, a friend and classmate of mine was planning to go on a Kennedy School trip to Israel and Palestine. She got her tickets and applied for her visa to Israel and was all set to go. But when she arrived at Logan Airport and tried to check in to her flight, she was told she wouldn’t be allowed on the flight. The flight was connecting through Canada, and she’s a citizen of India and didn’t have a tourist visa for Canada. Who knew you couldn’t land at a Canadian airport without a visa if you have an Indian passport!?

The privilege to travel internationally is an awesome one, and one that can be easy for citizens of wealthier countries to take for granted. So we decided to see if we could find some data to explore differences in requirements for tourist visas across countries. There’s an index of economic freedom, an index of corruption perceptions, and lots of others as well, so why not an index of tourist inequality?

You can see the interactive maps and indices here.

Cognition and behavior (getting to different ends from the same beginning)

My twitter feed has been throwing this around. I even got an email about it from a colleague.

The growing body of cross-cultural research that the three researchers were compiling suggested that the mind’s capacity to mold itself to cultural and environmental settings was far greater than had been assumed. The most interesting thing about cultures may not be in the observable things they do—the rituals, eating preferences, codes of behavior, and the like—but in the way they mold our most fundamental conscious and unconscious thinking and perception.

For instance, the different ways people perceive the Müller-Lyer illusion likely reflects lifetimes spent in different physical environments. American children, for the most part, grow up in box-shaped rooms of varying dimensions. Surrounded by carpentered corners, visual perception adapts to this strange new environment (strange and new in terms of human history, that is) by learning to perceive converging lines in three dimensions.

I think it’s funny that they’re talking about this as if it were a recent thing – the WEIRD paper has been floating around since 2009. Continue reading

Bottom-up creation of data-driven capabilities: show don’t tell

I’ve been writing lately on what to do when people who make decisions in an organization say they want data-driven capabilities but then ignore or attack the results of data-driven analysis for not saying what they think the data ought to say. Some of the most productive things you can do in that situation include automating your work so you can devote more time and attention to more important (and labor-intensive) projects, as well as building support among the organization’s weak actors as a means of garnering positive attention from higher-power stakeholders. Continue reading

Another Downside to the Current Journal System

One day I imagine I’ll have a paper that isn’t rejected for publication. When that happens, in the joy of adding a journal-title to my CV, perhaps I’ll wave goodbye to my days of fierce antipathy towards journal conglomerates. In the meantime I’m going to continue to embrace the journal-corporation hating. The system, after all, seems increasingly stupid. Continue reading