Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.
- If you saw the new Star Wars movie, the character Nien Nunb is speaking the Kenyan dialect Haya. Kenyan audiences were surprised and delighted when he first appeared in 1983’s Return of the Jedi (h/t Naunihal Singh).
- The peer-to-peer room renting service Airbnb, which has been having trouble with regulators, said they would release their New York City rental data to the public. Buzzfeed found though that viewing the data required going to one of their offices, and looking at a spreadsheet with 170,000 anonymized rows of raw data, without being able to save or photograph it, for “user privacy.” They were allowed to copy it down by hand though and mapped some of their findings (h/t Ben Casselman). Airbnb: Call our data repository team, we can help.
- An interesting insider’s look from a former State Department official at a DC ritual where a high-level government official invites think tank researchers to a “confidential off-the-record briefing.” The researchers think they’re there to explain their policy research, but the real purpose is to get them to write op-eds and go on news shows to support the official’s policies.
- Liberia had an “Integrity Idol” competition, where the public could vote for a government worker with outstanding integrity, an emergency room night-shift nurse who also does family planning education won. The contest idea came from the non-profit accountability lab which fights corruption.
- A journal editor rejected a paper with a series of studies because the findings looked too good to be true. He suspected a file drawer effect with the bad results not included, and was right. They resubmitted using the samples previously omitted with a meta-analysis of all the findings. The overall average effect was much smaller but he says it’s a model for transparency.
And for your new year, remember Rodrik’s Ten Commandments for Economists: