Supporting Opinion | The Demise of the US Stat Abstract

The US Statistical Abstract Is Worth Saving & You Should Help

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Joe Stanganelli
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Re: Poor little Statistical Abstract
Joe Stanganelli   12/15/2011 2:07:56 AM
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Response to 1 - Still, nice to have it all in one place, yes?

Response to 2 - Touché.

Shawn Hessinger
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Re: Poor little Statistical Abstract
Shawn Hessinger   12/14/2011 10:34:59 PM
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Hi Joe,

I didn't notice these newer posts until now and want to respond to a couple of points here specifically:

1. It is my understanding that the data used in the Abstract is mainly from other sources so someone drawing the data from those sources independently should receive the same data.

2. Are you suggesting that governments can never have ulterior motives for the way that they collect and arrange data?

Joe Stanganelli
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Re: statistical abstract
Joe Stanganelli   12/2/2011 1:28:05 PM
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Given all the antipathy towards the Census in 2010, I'd be surprised if this isn't an empty political move.

Joe Stanganelli
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Re: Poor little Statistical Abstract
Joe Stanganelli   12/2/2011 1:26:54 PM
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Fair enough, Shawn re: your clarification.

Nonetheless, I would posit that "I've never used it and I don't know anyone who has" is not really a convincing argument.

Honestly, I was unaware of its existence until recently; now that I know about it, I want to use it.

And it's nice to have a government statistical abstract instead of studies by companies and trade organizations who may not be using large enough sample sizes and/or possibly have an ulterior motive.

kmcclure
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Re: statistical abstract
kmcclure   12/1/2011 2:25:48 PM
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I've already said too much on the counterpoint side, but I want to address one point made on this side too:

"My guess is that this is a case of a few lower-level bureaucrats not wanting to do the work anymore because they don't know how vital it is..."

I can assure you that the employees in the Statistical Compendia Branch of the Census Bureau are devastated by the loss of Statistical Abstract, and not just because they're losing their jobs (the entire branch was slated for elimination, not just this one publication).  Their entire professional lives' work was dedicated to creating the best source of statistical data about American life from A to Z, and they succeeded.  It was the ones at the top who didn't understand how vital it was.

Michelle
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Re: Data append
Michelle   11/30/2011 10:16:32 PM
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I wonder the same. If this data is included in mailing list information it will most definately disappear along with the statistical data.

impactnow
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Data append
impactnow   11/30/2011 10:00:29 PM
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John I was also wondering are data appending companies using the abstract for data enrichment processes.

impactnow
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Abstract usage
impactnow   11/30/2011 9:56:51 PM
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Beth/Shawn I didn’t use it directly but an analyst I was working with used the information to help me create some modeling for a business case. It can be very useful, there may be some efficiency to be gained in the process to get the data and reduce to cost of producing the data but they should consider its elimination and its impacts.

Shawn Hessinger
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Re: statistical abstract
Shawn Hessinger   11/30/2011 4:59:11 PM
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John,

If indeed the abstract is a valuable resource and everything I say is incorrect, then this offers a wonderful entrepreneurial opportunity for someone with the vision and skill to execute it. I would suspect that the data can be collected much more efficiently and at a much lower cost than the Feds are now managing and if the demand for the data is there a private company should be able to pick up where Uncle Sam left off and produce a more valuable abstract with even better features simply by listening to users. Know anyone who might be up for the challenge?

Shawn Hessinger
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Re: Poor little Statistical Abstract
Shawn Hessinger   11/30/2011 4:18:19 PM
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Hi Joe, John and Maryam,

To clarify my counterpoint post on this topic, I wouldn't argue the killing of the Statistical Abstract is a necessity or pretend that its elimination as a cost cutting measure is anything more than an empty political gesture virtually meaningless in the face of the overall debt. Instead, my focus in the post is that the elimination of the abstract is essentially meaningless, in my opinion, like the dying of printed newspapers and other minor technological changes that people seem to wring their hands about these days. In my nearly two decades in the newspaper business, I do not believe I ever consulted the abstract nor did any other journalist I knew. This is not to say that we were without data for our stories only that, during my era in print, we had already reached a place where there was so much data to draw stories from that finding a source was never an issue. In many cases, these sources may have included the very organizations from which the abstract collected its data in the first place, organizations that, in the interim, had increasingly been using new Web technology and other means to distribute their data directly making the abstract gradually more and more obsolete. Or they could have been among the many smaller non-profit or educational organizations that have become an important part of the information landscape focused on a particular issue and taking and analyzing that information in a variety of ways to illustrate varying perspectives. Those who would argue that a single source is more efficient or (worse yet) more reliable should remember the benefits of weighing data from multiple sources and also Washington's proven propensity for managing data with a political agenda.

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