So What?

Big Data, Big Debate

October 16, 2015  • Institute Contributor

“So What?” – Your Weekly Guide to Advocacy With Impact
Lovingly selected and lightly snarked by Team APEP: David Devlin-Foltz, Susanna Dilliplane, and Christine Ferris

Big data, big purpose
We’ll state the obvious: fighting poverty in the US is enormously challenging. And measuring it fully and reliably ain’t no picnic either. But efforts to measure poverty
may have gotten a boost recently, with the introduction of the Human Needs Index (HNI). The tool leverages the Salvation Army’s large database on service provision to help capture trends in poverty and vulnerability. The goal is to provide specific, timely data that can usefully inform public policy and social service provision. May it be so.

The stories we tell about aging
What do we think it means to “successfully age”? Who is responsible for achieving this outcome for the estimated
44.7 million older adults in the US? Dominant narratives we hear from advocacy organizations and the media, identified in a recent study by the FrameWorks Institute, might just shape how we reply to those questions. Is your aging relative a “Vibrant Senior” or part of the “Throwaway Generation”? A useful reminder of how the stories we tell – or don’t tell – matter for how we think about and approach major societal challenges.

Of course [insert name] won the debate: everybody says so!
Strong opinions about who “won” Tuesday’s Democratic Party Presidential candidate debate proliferate in news and social media, of course. And lots of us have heard views from acquaintances and colleagues since. Clear majorities. Outright win. No question. But here’s an interesting puzzle to illustrate the “majority illusion” that may lead people in social networks astray. 


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