2011 in review

January 1, 2012

On 16 December 2011 I successfully defended my PhD Thesis. This blog was a project as part of my PhD research and to reflect my work. As my PhD thesis finished, I’m not updating (at least regularly) this blog anymore. You can now follow me on twitter.
Here is a report of this blog for 2011.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,500 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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On my previous post I included appendix VI of my PhD thesis. This was about how twitter and blogging in general has helped me on my research process. There were no names, here it is a list of people who are on twitter that I’m thankful to them (probably some I have forgotten). A few of them don’t really use of twitter, but they have an account, and others I would not know them and quoted them if they would have not used twitter, so this is a very informal way to say thanks, but at least I woud like to keep a record of it.

They are not necessarily in order of importance.

People I have referenced (and I never met):

@TimHarford

@Richard_Florida

@paragkhanna

@joestiglitz

@profdavidharvey

@NYTimeskrugman

@MichaelEPorter

@EconTalker

@khberglund

People I have personally met and have positively influenced me in my thesis

@BramTimmermans (Aalborg)

@msdahl (Aalborg)

@jp_kramer (Germany/Berkeley)

@ClausOstergaard (Aalborg)

@DaniBergstrom (Berkeley)

@GoranLindqvist (Stockholm)

@effectuationHQ (Virgina)

@javierest (Berkeley)

@lykkeeandersen (Bolivia)

@blengyelb (Hungary)

@RecessionCone (Bay Area)

@_Phile (Berkeley)

@thmazing (Berkeley)

@dellarucker (Cincinnati, OH)

@prodigis (California) the guy who influenced me to go to Berkeley

@condedelamaza (San Sebastian / Donosti) the guy who influenced me to get into twitter

@malenel the girl (now Prof.) who influenced me to blog

People who I never met personally, follow on twitter, quite positively influenced me for my thesis, AND have provided important sources of knowledge in my thesis.

@euyarra (Manchester) A friend I have never met

@manufernandez (Bilbao) we wish we meet

@ben_spigel (Toronto) we have met, but we don’t remember

Twitter accounts I follow and I never met, but also influenced my thesis.

@HansRosling

@tedtalks

@urbanophile

@B_Eichengreen

(The following text will be the Appendix VI in my PhD Thesis)

Blogging refers to basically posting texts online. During my Ph.D. studies I have used a blog https://carlos9900.wordpress.com/, and a microblog account in Twitter: http://twitter.com/carlos9900. I chose to include the number 9900 because it is the postal code of Frederikshavn and helped me to keep in mind the blog’s orientation towards my Ph.D.

I set the goal of uploading a couple of paragraphs once a week or every two weeks. I wanted to post regularly but not distract myself. I also used Twitter (also known as microblogging and related to social network software) and uploaded some of my ideas almost daily. Very few Ph.D. students use blogging, and even fewer claim to use these tools for academic purposes. Among professors this is even rarer. I understand that for people who do not use these tools, blogging may not sound like an efficient tool to use during a Ph.D.. Thus, I would like to clearly establish what I achieved by doing it:

  • Practice much needed writing, without worrying too much about grammar, sources, etc.
  • Was able to get immediate feedback from ideas I shared. 13,000 people have visited my blog, and I got more than 100 comments.
  • Was able to ask for further information (sources, clarifications, etc.) from others and engage in conversations with colleagues and experts. Twitter’s virtual social network is an important place for dialogue.
  • Keep update on pre-state-of-the-art information in some fields. Many scholars and research centers share ideas on Twitter before publishing them.
  • One can follow the zeitgeist in some fields by following the discussion of academics, practitioners and consultants in real time.

During the Enlightenment in Europe, coffee houses played an important role in cultivating many innovations. Today in 2011 I believe social media is the place to nurture many of the latest ideas. On the other hand, these tools must be used properly since one can waste much time on them. Overall, however, I think that using blogging wisely can be a good tool for research purposes. I have also been satisfied to use blogging to spread knowledge among society.

Today Saturday, I have found a cool comment on a blog. I decided to copy and paste it.

Anon says:

Look, this is really simple:

Jack and Jill both work at MicroCon, they each make 100K/year. They live in the same neighborhood, drive on the same roads, use the same police/fire services, visit the same national parks. Many of these things are funded by their tax dollars, they utilize them to the same degree.

Jack rents an apartment next door to Jill’s condo.

Every year Jill pays substantially less taxes than Jack, claiming her mortgage interest deduction. We (the democratically elected government) decided to subsidize Jill’s home purchase because we believe home ownership makes a more stable society.

Jill has more money in her pocket than Jack, purely because of a gov’t decision based on social considerations. Every year Jack and Jill can argue to their representatives that the base tax rate is too high, or too low, and that will never change the fact that Jill pays less. Jack might as well have handed the extra money he pays straight to Jill, there is no difference. The inequality between Jack and Jill’s tax bill is a govt social program.

This comes from comment #97 from an article called: –Half of US social program recipients believe they “have not used a government social program”– By the way an amazing, but not surprising article.

Coming back to Anon’scomment, I would also add that besides the widespread believe that home ownership is good per se, (something that also happens outside the US, even though for example in the case of Denmark with strict policies on renting, rental housing usually is in better conditions than owned places [sic]) probably a main driver of this policy is the powerful banking sector. It is great for banks to have people get mortgages so they can work for them (in the case of my native Spain for the rest of their lives).

This intrusion of the banking sector, has deteriorated the possibilities of people of moving to find better places, in particular now with so many places under water (American expression that means your house now cost less than what you paid for). This is something that economic geographers like Richard Florida have been warning for years.

It also clogs innovation, because getting stocked to a house, people tend to prefer a STABLE job in an STABLE company. That is, no one will open his/her mouth to risk things being unSTABLE. In the case of the US this even gets worse, because people are afraid to loose their healthcare insurance (that’s another topic).

Having said that I have to admit I may have a bias. In the last decade we have lived in Spain, Bolivia, USA (Dallas, Atlanta, Berkeley), and Denmark, and always rent places. Of course, I would not been able to move so much if I would have ever tried to own a place (like many of my friends with similar incomes).

Soon we will have our second child, and I don’t think we’re going to own any time soon. Why so many American and European people have to be punished by our governments (in favor of the richer) for not choosing to own?

We have been passing through one of those great economic storms which periodically bring hardship and suffering upon our people. While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced that we have now passed the worst and with continuity of effort we shall rapidly recover. There is one certainty in the future of a people of the resources, intelligence, and character of the people of the United States—that is, prosperity. 

(President Herbert Hoover, 1 May 1930 – read rest of speech here)

 

I read this from the illustrated book “Brother, can you spare a dime?” by Susan Winslow (1976).

After quoting Hoover, then she writes:

By 1932, some 18 months after Hoover’s pronouncement, ‘the great economic storm’ had, if anything, worsened, leaving more than 15 million out of 123 million Americans unemployed in its wake. FDR’s (President Franklin D. Roosevelt) New Deal did much to mitigate the effects of the Depression and restore a sense of confidence in the American people, but recovery was not really complete until the nation began to spend heavily for defense in the early 1940s.

[I just wanted to share this with you guys during my holidays]

Last year I visited UC Berkeley as a researcher and studied the city of Vallejo. The city is known by the youth of the San Francisco Bay Area for its hip hop music. There are some famous rappers from there. I rarely put videos in this blog, but a friend sent it to me, and it was nice to see the city again. What is interesting about this video is that even if Vallejo is known for being officially in bankruptcy (because of mismanagement) or other things that make the citizens struggle, the people there are so proud of their city. With good reason, is a very interesting place, with a fascinating economic evolution.

Here it is a post talking a little about my findings of this city. Vallejo has recently got coverage from New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and other media. Watching the video I wish I would have got some souvenirs from there. By the way 707 is the telephone code of the area.

Here it is another video with images from the town.

Just a little note for the demographers, the city is equally divided in white, black, brown and yellow. See chart below. Also the neighborhoods are quite unsegregated. The interesting thing… they all can rap.

Today it has been released a cool feature from the social network website LinkedIn. It’s called InMaps. What I find interesting is that high amount of people I’m connected that are not connected to each other. That is the category of Various in blue. This comes from old friends, school in Spain, places I visited, family, conferences, social media and many people who don’t use LinkedIn so much. Then we have in the left side my current department (Development and Planning at Aalborg University) and in the top, my former Department (Business Studies at Aalborg U.). Then there is other geographical areas or moments of my life.

This is based on 209 connections.

I hope soon they come up with a geographical plotting of the network.