Introduction to R class

I taught this week a 6-hour intensive “Introduction to R” class for statisticians and statistical programmers at my current company. The goal of the class was to give participants an understanding of the fundamentals of the language so that they could explore it further on their own. The main challenge of the class was that most participants were very experienced users of other statistican environments, and therefore I put a lot of emphasis on how to think about problems from an R point of view. The materials can be found here. Read more ›

industry · personal

Moving from Academia into industry

In mid-April, I participated in a roundtable about non-academic careers for political scientists at the Midwest Political Science Association annual conference in Chicago. I kept it simple and tried to just tell my experience when I decided to not follow the usual path towards a tenure track position. In a field with so little tradition (and awareness) about non-academic jobs, transitioning to industry sometimes feels like a leap in the dark. Ever since then, I have tried to collect the main points I tried to touch during my presentation. Better late than never. ``Talking about non-academic jobs makes as much... Read more ›

rstats · politics

Demasiados descriptivos

Damos demasiados datos descriptivos. Incorporar datos cuantitativos al análisis electoral en los medios generalistas ha sido un paso muy importante en la buena dirección, pero nos olvidamos con demasiada frecuencia de que los datos como descripción tienen un recorrido muy limitado. Al fin y al cabo, lo que nos interesa como analistas es extraer conclusiones, lo cual es otra forma de decir que nuestra intención última es utilizar los datos para validar o refutar una hipótesis. Pero a veces solo queremos presentar un relato aséptico que nos permita tomar un poco de distancia con respecto a nuestra experiencia cotidiana revisando,... Read more ›

books · history

Sleepwalking into a new world

The emergence of the Italian city communes in the 12th century is one of the topics that has always attracted political scientists. And rightly so, because it is the often-cited example in classical political theory of the transition away from aristocratic rule and into a partial democracy as represented by the consuls. Plus it is one of the few topics that allow a scholar to write this kind of paragraph: It has not been stressed by most historians that so many of the Milanese political leadership had surnames beginning Caga- or Caca-, that is to say ‘shit.’ The niceties of... Read more ›

politics · tech

Smartphones and political campaigns

Pew Research Center published today a report on smartphone use in the US that contains some fascinating bits. From the huge jump in the penetration of smartphones in the population (64%) relative to just three years ago (35% in 2011) to the somewhat surprising fact that “10% of Americans own a smartphone but do not have any other form of high-speed internet access at home beyond their phone’s data plan.” The report also goes into details about usage and attitudes for different sociodemographic groups. The publication was quickly followed by a piece on how mobile devices will be the central... Read more ›