The two alternatives to the monasterisation of the World wide web

Saint Michael’s Abbey, in the Susa Valley, Piedmont. Source: Wikipedia.

In Medieval Europe, information was physically concentrated in very few secluded libraries and archives. Powerful institutions managed them and regulated who could access what. The library of the fictional abbey that is described in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose is located in a fortified tower and only the librarian knows how to navigate its mysteries. Monasteries played an essential role in preserving written information and creating new intelligence from that knowledge. But being written information a scarce resource, with the keys to libraries came also authority and power. Similarly, Internet companies are amassing information within their fortified walls. In so doing, they provide services that we now see as essential but they also contravene the two core principles of the Internet: openness and decentralisation.


Monday, 7 May 2018


Erik Hersman, has recently created a site called Africa Signals. And it is not just a site: it is a wiki site. The site aims to collect and share mobile phone and Internet rates across Africa. (I have found about this site here)

Now. In my experience, one of the many reasons that makes poor a poor farmer is coping with a non-functioning market (I said it two posts ago). So I can just imagine how helpful would be to have a tool to make market work better.

Creating a wiki page to collect and share the price of one particular agricultural product in one particular time in one particular place would be great. But succeeding in integrating such a site with the mobile phone network would be even better.  How to do this? The government of Rwanda is moving in the very same direction without creating a wiki site. (It is difficult to imagine a government managing wikis). But bureaucracy is not something we usually associate with the words efficiency and effectiveness, especially in poor countries. And in any case we do not really need a government to make a site like this work.

Just think about a wiki site collecting and sharing data through sms. Actually Twitter, without the wiki interface, is doing it right now. So, think about a farmer receiving a message with updated price information the night before market day and, on this information, taking his/her decisions. And think about a farmer sending via sms the price information to the wiki site after leaving the market.

We can imagine the farmer to pay for the sms he or she receives and, on the contrary, we can imagine sending sms back to the site to be completely free.  And we can imagine some volunteers to be the administrators of the site (just like Wikipedia).

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Twitter: frbailo




  • Working with Notion API from R
    When searching for a solution where I could store some flat files as a database, Notion came up. The nice thing about it is that it offers an API to most of its functionality. At the time of this writing this is still in beta, but hopefully it will bec... The post Working with Notion […]
  • rbind in r-Combine Vectors, Matrix or Data Frames by Rows
    rbind in r, In this article, will describe the uses and applications of rbind(), rbind.fill() and bind_rows() functions in R programming. rbind() in R... The post rbind in r-Combine Vectors, Matrix or Data Frames by Rows appeared first on finnstats. The post rbind in r-Combine Vectors, Matrix or Data Frames by Rows first appeared on […]
  • Which Religious Groups Have the Most Sex?
    There has been plenty of discussion about declining fertility rates and patterns of marriage among people in the United States following the news that the US birth rate declined to its lowest since the Great Depression. There are a lot of debates a... The post Which Religious Groups Have the Most Sex? first appeared on […]
  • Class imbalance and classification metrics with aircraft wildlife strikes
    This is the latest in my series of screencasts demonstrating how to use the tidymodels packages, from just starting out to tuning more complex models with many hyperparameters. I recently participated in SLICED, a competitive data science prediction... The post Class imbalance and classification metrics with aircraft wildlife strikes first appeared on R-bloggers.
  • rOpenSci News Digest, June 2021
    Dear rOpenSci friends, it’s time for our monthly news roundup! You can read this post on our blog. Now let’s dive into the activity at and around rOpenSci! 🔗 rOpenSci HQ 🔗 R-universe Video and resources from our pas... The post rOpenSci News Digest, June 2021 first appeared on R-bloggers.

RSS Simply Statistics

  • Streamline - tidy data as a service
    Tldr: We started a company called Streamline Data Science that offers tidy data as a service. We are looking for customers, partnerships and employees as we scale up after closing our funding round! Most of my career, I have worked in the muck of data cleaning. In the world of genomics, a lot of […]
  • The Four Jobs of the Data Scientist
    In 2019 I wrote a post about The Tentpoles of Data Science that tried to distill the key skills of the data scientist. In the post I wrote: When I ask myself the question “What is data science?” I tend to think of the following five components. Data science is (1) the application of design […]
  • Palantir Shows Its Cards
    File this under long-term followup, but just about four years ago I wrote about Palantir, the previously secretive but now soon to be public data science company, and how its valuation was a commentary on the value of data science more generally. Well, just recently Palantir filed to go public and therefore submitted a registration […]

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

  • Pittsburgh by Frank Santoro
    Last year we discussed a silly study, and that lead us to this interesting blog by Chris Gavaler, which pointed me to a recent picture storybook, Pittsburgh, by Frank Santoro. The book was excellent. I don’t have any insights to share here; I just wanted to thank Santoro for writing the book and Gavaler for […]
  • Meta-meta-science studies
    August Wartin asks: Are you are familiar with any (economic) literature that attempts to model academia or the labor market for researchers (or similar), incorporating stuff like e.g. publication bias, researcher degrees of freedom, the garden of forking paths etcetera (and that perhaps also discusses possible proposals/mechanisms to mitigate these problems)? And perhaps you might […]
  • She’s thinking of buying a house, but it has a high radon measurement. What should she do?
    Someone wrote in with a question: My Mom, who has health issues, is about to close on a new house in **, NJ. We just saw that ** generally is listed as an area with high radon. If the house has a radon measurement over 4 and the seller puts vents to bring it into […]