Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Race to where?

Not that I want to encourage Oregon in blowing off federal grant money, but there is an interesting story on where the Race to the Top funds actually went. Food for thought: If urban bias was pervasive, how did North Carolina and Georgia win?

Friday, August 20, 2010

LA Times Grades the Teachers

This is an enormously interesting article.

I'm sure this isn't the first time a researcher has ranked teachers, or that a district has reviewed such rankings, but to put such rankings into the hands of parents is radical. It's the first time I've seen anyone- company, school district, non-profit, ANYONE- put into the hands of parents a tool for evaluating individual teacher quality.

Action in the face of trouble

It's good to see a community taking control of it's destiny and confronting the long term funding issue. A lot more inspiring then anything the Portland Public School District has done.

Friday, August 13, 2010

IT in Hospitals

Interesting review of the impact of IT investment by hospitals.  Bottom line- without business process improvement better tech doesn't help.  That jives with work by Brynjolfsson & Saunders that real value lies in improving business process and tech in tandem, whereas the former in practice tends to lag the latter by many years.

My own two cents:  Process improvement can't be done by IT folk.  You can't properly re-engineer someone's business if you don't know it, and by the time IT folks learn it the tech will be outdated.  Better to put a system up fast, and then give the people who actually do the work pathways and incentives to improve their own processes.  Let it evolve, with supervision.  It's easier to teach them a little tech then teach a tech person a lot of [whatever].

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bookstores of the Future?

This passage in a NY Times article stood out:
“The shift from the physical to the digital book can pick up some of the
economic slack, but it can’t pick up the loss that is created when you
don’t have the customers browsing the displays,” said Laurence J.
Kirshbaum, a literary agent. “We need people going into stores and
seeing a book they didn’t know existed and buying it.”

As a customer, I don't see any need for that whatsoever.  As a method of discovery browsing is a terrible waste of time compared with shopping on the web.  If you like thumbing lots of books just because you can, libraries are superior. 

If I were a literary agent this is the question I'd try to answer, "How can I better connect my author with readers, both current and potential?"  If the answer involves bookstores you are probably barking up the wrong tree.

Monday, August 9, 2010

David Cameron Watch

More on the implementation of budget cuts in Britain.  How about a holding a lottery to allocate lottery funds to filmmakers?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another chapter from the book of IT Hell

It isn't funny seeing a story like this in times like these.  Their finance and IT group employs all of 22 people.  How could that have ever made sense?

Sticky Wage Suicide

A police union in a high crime district prefers laying off a third of its staff rather then accept a pay cut.  Not only is it self destructive in the sense that the union is choosing to have far fewer union members, it is literally self destructive in that the remaining officers face increased risk of injury or death as a result of less backup.  Who says wages aren't sticky?