Sunday, March 26, 2017

Late March geekery and revealed preference

I drew a random sample of 100 pages from the browser history on my personal laptop, and then classified each of the pages into a number of categories. Results were rounded to 5% because such a small sample will necessarily contain a lot of noise; the 5% is essentially a low-pass filter cutting out the high-frequency noise of occasional browsing.

This is a very rough measure of preference, since it doesn't account for time spent on the page, for example, or other measures of interest. But it's a good starting point, and it matches interests outside of online content (books, videos, participation in forums). I classified book-related pages into the most appropriate category, so the two SciFi-related pages in the sample went into STEM, because they were hard-scifi not space opera.

STEM and business (including economics) are my work areas, but on that chart I map only the non-work related perusal. I start the day with a massive RSS-feed reader, about one- half business and one-half science and engineering; of that about two-thirds has no direct use for work. The other categories in the chart are personal interests with typically map to activities in the real, physical world: exercise, food, culture, and the Bay Area and California (events, traffic, weather, local news; I live in the world, after all).

One surprising omission is photography-related content, but that's the problem of 100 observations. I would have sampled 10,000 but then I'd need to classify those 10,000 by hand, so I didn't. I did have some hits from the StyleForum, but most were about food, not clothing or shoes, so they were classified appropriately. The London Lounge, alas, didn't appear in the sample.

Other than business and economics-related news, I don't follow current events, celebrities, gossip, or sports, so it's not an anomaly that they're not represented in the chart. (I get enough relevant news and cultural developments as part of the work-related information stream. Backed up by charts.) Obviously there's no adult or embarrassing content in my browsing  --- because I don't consume that, of course, not because I understand private mode browsing.

With the above distribution in mind, the rest of the post is an illustration of the content making up that revealed preference (and my take on some of it). I avoid commenting on business, management, and economics for work-related reasons, so I'll leave those out.

😎 Thunderf00t shows how Fukushima worrywarts are wrong:

Here's Thunderf00t being uncharitable again! Making these poor people stretch their 2 IQ points together to understand that 2 Becquerel per cubic meter of seawater from Fukushima is not so enormously dangerous when compared to 10,000 Becquerel from our own body radiation (for 100kg person). Or the extremely dangerous bananas.

Pretty interesting explanation about the bio-accumulation of Strontium (because of chemical similarity to Calcium, which is in our bones).

😎 Internet fitness experts, what a joke:

I could be naughty and notice that both of these pull-up experts have narrow shoulders and thin upper arms, which is interesting since the main purpose of pull-ups is to develop broad shoulders and thick upper arms. But I won't be naughty.

😎 Your tax dollars at work (at Fermilab): the weak nuclear force.

📕 I recently read Dan Ariely's "Payoff," an interesting book about motivation. Highly recommended for everyone: it's not about how to motivate employees (though it does serve that purpose), but rather how to understand one's own motivations. By allowing me to see outside of my own behavior, it clarified some issues of work-related happiness I'd been struggling with.

📕 Now reading Joel Mokyr's "A culture of Growth," an analysis of what really drove the success of industrial civilization. Not one to bury the lede, Mokyr states early on that, unlike what economists and historians (and economic historians) tend to think, it was not intellectuals driving the change but rather the pragmatics (what we would call engineers, entrepreneurs, and venture investors).

👍 Some interesting links:

  • What Costco knows about customers. This is the kind of thing I collect in case I start doing executive education (or regular MBA teaching) again. Interesting, and if I wanted to turn it into a discussion piece or an exercise, it would take less than one hour to do so. I browse these for fun (yes, I've idiosyncratic tastes), but there's a bit of a pragmatic background to it.

🎵 Closing music, via Voices of Music: