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Aug 22 / Kimberly

Maclean’s: The case of the disappearing Statistics Canada data

Please read this fantastic article by Jason Kirby, which appeared on on August 13, 2014.

The Great Statistics Canada 200-Jobs Mystery is generating loads of headlines, as it should. The botched labour report for July, which, initially, and erroneously, claimed Canada produced just 200 jobs that month, has once again sparked questions about the quality of Canada’s statistical data. (Revised figures are due Friday).

But this is far from the only thing troubling regular StatsCan users. I made the following chart to illustrate one of the great frustrations that journalists, economists and academics have with StatsCan. One minute, the agency, tasked with measuring the tick tock of the economy and society, tracks seemingly vital data (such as detailed breakdowns of public sector employment and wages by all levels of government, or the total value of government transfer payments to persons by province and type of transfer), the next, *poof*, they’re terminated.

Good thing StatsCan still tracks the square footage of fungi production.

Aug 15 / Kimberly

NYT: As Data Overflows Online, Researchers Grapple With Ethics

This article that appeared in the New York Times on August 12, 2014.

With data surrounding us and coming from everywhere, we need to develop ethics for research dealing with personal data. Facebook, this means you.

Once forced to conduct painstaking personal interviews with subjects, scientists can now sit at a screen and instantly play with the digital experiences of millions of Internet users. It’s the frontier of social science — experiments on people who may never even know they are subjects of study, let alone explicitly consent.

“This is a new era,” said Jeffrey T. Hancock, a Cornell University professor of communication and information science. “I liken it a little bit to when chemistry got the microscope.”

But the new era has brought some controversy with it. Professor Hancock was a co-author of the Facebook study in which the social network quietly manipulated the news feeds of nearly 700,000 people to learn how the changes affected their emotions. When the research was published in June, the outrage was immediate.



Jun 6 / Kimberly

CLA 2014: The Economic Impact of Libraries

The Economic Impact of Libraries, part of the CLA 2014 workshop, “Driving Change for Community Impact”. Presented by Kimberly Silk, University of Toronto and Elizabeth Glass, Toronto Public Library. Silk begins with a look at different types of impact studies and then introduces how the Toronto Public Library engaged the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto in 2013 to study of the economic impact and benefits of the library in its community. TPL shares the findings of the study, discusses the importance of demonstrating the economic benefits of public libraries to key stakeholders including city councils, library board members, and the local community, and provides tips for others wanting to show the impact of their libraries.