Tis’ the season of “best-ofs”. Falalalala, lala, lala.
Analysts are selecting their books of the year (See here for lists from finance and economics gurus). I am finishing Tetlock and Gardner’s Superforecasting: The art and science of prediction which is on top of several lists and look forward to telling you what I think. Editorialists are picking out their favorite long essays (see here for David Brooks’) of which I recommend the WeChat piece showing how it is shaping the future of mobile payments. Journalists are electing their women of the year (see here); and their person of the year (see here for the FT and here for Time) and end up choosing the same woman: Angela Merkel. Linguists are picking out their word of the year (see here for Oxford and here for Merriam-Webster) which are not even words. Bloggers are counting their clicks and ranking their posts.
In the spirit of the season, here is What I read’s 2015 best-of. Based on the number of clicks, here are your top fives:
- Bevington and al’s “A multitemporal, multivariate index to dynamically characterize vulnerability of children and adolescents in Nepal: Using science in humanitarian response”. While the title is a mouthful, the map distills all this complexity to show children vulnerabilities at the village level, in real time. You can zoom in and out, you can map specific vulnerabilities (displaced children, available schools, functional healthcare facilities) or specific hazards (landslide from rainfalls, landslide from earthquakes, landslide post-quakes), or you can combine all this together in one map. The architecture behind the interactive map triangulates data of different nature and frequency from the Nepal National Census to NASA’s high-resolution satellite imagery.
- Gonzales and al’s “Catalyst for change: Women and tackling income inequality” is the latest Staff Paper in the IMF series on inequality and growth. It looks at the links between gender inequality and income inequality in 140 countries over two decades. It shows that an increase in the UN multi-dimensional gender inequality index “from zero (perfect gender equality) to one (perfect gender inequality) is associated with an increase in net income inequality (as measured by the Gini coefficient) of almost 10 points”. This is true for all countries, rich or poor. The paper also proposes policy recommendations from tax reform to improved family benefits such as parental leave and affordable childcare.
- A quote from Nesta CEO Mulgan in “Meaningful meetings: How can meetings can be made better?”: “Some of the best meetings don’t happen.” (291 clicks). And let me expand a little: “Often people feel uncomfortable cancelling meetings, for fear that it implies that no work is being done. Similarly people feel uncomfortable in big bureaucracies not attending meetings – for fear that they may miss out on vital decisions, or be seen not to be a team player. The opposite would be a better approach – with cancelling or shortening meetings being taken as a sign of effective day to day communication and coordination that renders the meeting unnecessary.”
- Ausubel’s “Nature Rebounds” presents positive trends with the combined effect of restoring nature. Farmland and forest use are reaching peaks; water, petroleum, and transportation uses are plateauing; and green vegetal cover expands. All this alongside a population growth slowdown. The paper concentrates on the US but Ausubel argues that “within a few decades, the same patterns, already evident in Europe and Japan, will be evident in many more places”. The only dark spot in this bright picture is oceans and fisheries damage.
- Peleah’s “SDGs as a network of targets” captures the intrinsic connections among SDGs and their targets. Click and play with it: grab one target, say gender disparities in education, and drag it around to see how it pulls a huge part of the network with it. It shows how progress in some key targets will generate progress across the whole set. It illustrates the sectoral integration and complexity inherent to the SDG agenda.