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Open Economics Hack Day Saturday January 28th 2012

This post is by Velichka Dimitrova, Coordinator for the Economics Working Group at the Open Knowledge Foundation.

On Saturday 28th January we’re getting together for an Open Economics Hackday where we’ll be be wrangling data and building apps related to economics — all are welcome!

  • Event home page:
  • Sign up: on the MeetUp page
  • When: Saturday 28th January, 11am GMT to ~7pm GMT
  • Where: Online (IRC, Skype) and in person in London (public space of the main hall on floor G at the Barbican)
  • Who: Anyone! Coder, data wrangler, economists, illustrator or writer …

As with all hackdays, exactly what gets work on gets decided on the day (you can add suggestions to the etherpad). However, one particular idea, which we could become a submission to Apps4Italy, is set out below.

One Idea for What We’ll Work On: ProgressVote

One of the most fundamental questions in economic research is: how do we measure social progress? Policy makers have come up with alternative measures accounting for environmental impacts, inequality, happiness and other indicators of human development.

However, the multiplicity of factors has caused another problem – how do we decide on the importance of each individual factor in a composite index? They could be either equally important (such as in the HDI) or they could be given different weights.

In our last project YourTopia – which was one of the winners of last year’s World Bank Apps4Development Prize – we offered one possible solution by letting you decide on which dimensions and aspects of economic development to prioritize.

However there are limitations to such an approach: faced with a myriad of technical indicators people are often overwhelmed by the complexity: Does life expectancy at birth matter more than the inflation rate or the M2 money supply? And what does M2 money supply even mean?

In ProgressVote, we’d like to improve on YourTopia in a variety of ways:

First, by combining proxy voting with the crowd-based Yourtopia approach: Instead of voting for indicators, people vote for expert statements that interpret the dashboard of variables. By doing so, it is hoped to strike a balance between expert judgements and the interpretation of the general public: Experts may be more able to interpret technical data, but in the end it is the citizens who decide which expert statement to endorse.

Second, we’d like to add support time series — so you can see how progress (or lack of it) has evolved over time — as well as better geo support — for example, so it is possible to look at regions as well as countries have performed (consider Italy for instance).

Interested? Then come join us on Saturday 28th January!

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