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a day with chris jordan, but without dignity or shoes.

April 6, 2011

chris jordan's work...

boy…been tough to get going on data.  been in a bit of a funk to be honest, heaps of stuff going on.  and also had 8 papers/projects/tests the last couple of days that had me a bit preoccupied.  also been trying to avoid the whole “a day without shoes” vs “a day without dignity” thing on our blog since we’re supposed to be focused on data this month.  but i think it’s important to think about and so i’m going to cave just a tiny bit and simply, briefly mention it…and it’s especially relevant given the recent wrap up of both men’s and women’s march madness and the gearing up of the nba playoffs.  what am i talking about you ask?

well…in general the idea of giving “stuff” as “aid” to countries.  specifically i’m talking about this, and how we give the unused attire printed for various sporting events to “poor” countries.  specifically i’m also talking about tom’s shoe’s “a day without shoes” and good intentions are not enough’s counter campaign: “a day without dignity.”  i don’t want to get too into it…we’re looking at data this month…but being that a lot of my interests lie in the development/aid arena i felt the need to bring it up.  bottom line for me?  i have nothing against tom’s shoes (actually i do, i don’t like them, but to each their own) but let’s not get it twisted…it’s a for profit company.  if you buy the shoes because you like them then fine, buy away, you could certainly be buying from a worse company.  but they’re still a company.  if you’re buying them because of the whole “buy one give one” thing then you should stop, go buy some real shoes, and donate some money to an aid charity.  because the developing world does not really need shoes.  tom’s shoes guys are marketers and shoe makers and probably great people and really well intentioned but they are not aid or development professionals.  and it’s true…in the aid and development world good intentions are not enough…and in fact can often lead to deepening problems.  tales from the hood and aid watch both have some good things to say on the whole issue, and the aid watch article has a bunch of links in it to heaps more information regarding the history of the gift in kind issue(s).  so…carrying on with data.

chris jordan seemed like a good place to start with data.  he uses fairly raw statistics…there’s no interpretation of data to try and sort through or get to the bottom of.  there’s no statements about this country is better than that country or any of that…the data is just raw statistics that are super transparent.  he is certainly making statements but it’s more about visualizing sheer magnitude of numbers than it is about getting fancy with data and using it and manipulating it to try and convince people (politicians, lobbyists, etc) that some piece of policy or legislation is, or isn’t, working.  the best place to start with his work is the ted video below, and then to go look at his work over on his website (in particular running the numbers I and II).

ummm…and that’s all i really had.  seemed like a nice, simple place to start with data.  so cheers to that.


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