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Open access at ASSA 2014

Attended an interesting session this morning on open access.

Several papers examine the effect of open repositories of academic articles. Davis et al. (2008) find no effect on citations; McCabe and Snyder (2013) find a very modest effect and Kim (2014) also finds a small positive effect.

Interesting comment by David Card: is the increase in citations driven by something about Google search (i.e. does it help you FIND the articles?) or something about “access” (i.e. can you READ it more easily?)? Particularly relevant as most people don’t read the papers they cite….

Overall, it was nice to see economics catching up to some of the other disciplines in caring enough about open access to have a session on it. I suspect benefits to having openly available papers vary depending on the discipline as there are equilibrium effects.


Bitcoin as a function of increasing inequality

Now that rewards accrue more and more to those at the very top, it’s understandable why people would speculate on bitcoin: “Go big or go home.” Not to mention having the disposable income with which to do this.

Predict bubbles to rise as inequality grows and doing a little better isn’t good enough.

All that said, and while recognizing that the cryptocurrencies are a dangerous game, I think there’s one thing missing from the analyses of the currencies. They’re fun. I built a bitcoin mining rig in 2011, not thinking I would earn much money, but because I wanted to learn how to put together a computer from components and run it using Ubuntu. I don’t see what the big deal is with people getting bitcoin just to have some and not using it in transactions. Would you spend a good book or use it to transact? No, but it doesn’t mean your book is useless. I’m pro-bitcoin, even if it’s a bubble, without being into drugs or anti-government.

BTC: 1J8BBZcybM1LB5o9yydjdjoUWUnhcbitEn


Google Glass review

It was fun.

 

If you haven’t had the chance to play with it yet – it’s buggy and unable to do much yet. However, it seems like this is one of the times where the software can really make it. (What are e-readers without books? A laptop without software?) And I know of a lot of cool things being developed, like a Wii sports-like app from Alex Foster.

I like it and I’m excited for future, despite its current early stage. The price will have to come down substantially before it can take off, not the least because you don’t want to wear something so expensive while walking down the street.

Apart from that, I’ll quote my friend Vinci (of econometrics videos fame):

What’s it good for:
- HUD clock. Seriously, this is surprisingly useful.
- Directions. Works just like Google Navigation and makes you feel like a jet pilot.
- Calls. Which you can initiate with voice command. If you’re looking for a Ghost In The Shell experience, you got it.
- Snapping photos and videos. Quality is acceptable for Facebook.
- Google search. Too slow and voice-recognition is too inaccurate for practical use.
- That’s it, seriously. There is a reason why it’s for early adopters only.


AidEconomics.com now redirects here

It was time to consolidate and to follow the lead of many other eponymous bloggers.

I still think aid is interesting; I still think one should take a very broad definition (including trade agreements, etc.).

Will migrate old posts over here shortly. As a perk, the site gets a more modern look.


Random families

A recent NYTimes article discusses “the families we invent”. I always thought families were so arbitrary and that someone should make a website which randomly matches people into “families” to extend the concept a bit further. Many wouldn’t catch on or be maintained but it would make a good statement.