Saturday, December 23, 2006

Future Instruments -- Part II

Maybe the future of instruments is edit mode and the future of edit mode is a control panel/dashboard.

Interviewers -- generally middle-aged women and men -- would learn to play Ender's Game.

Of course (or perhaps) this is my fantasy. So in our cold, cruel world ("we live in a time where meaning falls and splinters from our lives") what might the dashboard be like?


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Future Instruments -- Part I

Just saw the article in Amstat International's newsletter on the situation at Statistics Netherlands.

Does one think that the shift to registers and administrative files as the primary data source is a phenomenon unique to the Netherlands?

Let's say it is not and see what happens (a thought experiment).

Let's say that the use of data banks in both establishment and household surveys becomes a requirement in the US too.

At the same time, as the article suggests, there may be "initiatives for new statistics". I would also add that with this data source, as with any other, there will also be missing data.

What kind of "instrument" is required to build the record under these circumstances?

It would be an instrument that largely filled in the gaps or, as people in the market research world might says, it would be an instrument that filled in white spaces in the single source of truth.

I try to imagine such an instrument.

Could we get by using the current paradigm which in this case would be a preload of the registers and an instrument that knew how to jump from one white space to another without interviewer intervention.

Would we not want to know before a survey went to a mode whether it was going to take five minutes or five hours depending on the missing data?

Would an interview that jumps between white spaces trash the context in which questions are normally asked?

Alternatively, if the context was preserved and an interview walked instead of jumped, wouldn't the cost of data points become prohibitive and the interview come to be seen as flat-footed?