Tuesday, April 30, 2013

sinking in

Grad students are supposed to talk to lots of professors to get constructive feedback on their work. On the surface, this is useful because you get ideas and suggestions from people who are much more experienced in the field, and the more people you talk to, the more variety in suggestions you get from different angles.

True, but also, if you're as dense and stubborn as I am, it's helpful because you hear the same things from many people. And eventually the message hits a weak point in your skull and you actually hear it.

Funny how information aggregates. A dozen similar conversations with no noticeable Eureka moment, but after it's all said and done I'm not where I started anymore.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

efficiency versus innovation

Matt Yglesias has an interesting post on San Francisco, which despite obvious terrible public policies resulting in awful inefficiencies, is a hotbed for innovation.

I take his point that economists focus too much on promoting efficiency and not enough on promoting innovation. We definitely understand how to do the former much better.

But, they aren't alternatives. And if we don't know very well how to recreate the magic formula that led to the startup culture in San Francisco, we might as well fight to rectify the inefficiencies. The examples of urban density and building regulations he cites in particular, if fixed, would make room for more participants in that innovation culture. If you don't know how to create innovation, might as well expand it by improving efficiency.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

this is not welfare increasing

You know what's ludicrous? I've had to go through over 3 months of back and forth with the human subjects committee because I want to pay people on MTurk a few cents for accurate answers on a 5 minute survey. (If it was a simple unincentivized survey, it would be exempt from needing human subjects approval. Although I would still have to go back and forth with CPHS to prove it was exempt...)

I don't know how these people live with themselves. Bureaucracy, especially at a giant public university, is always cumbersome, but this is taking it to a new level.