Updated version of Britdata just published

A new version of my e-book Britdata is available here (£9.99) and on Leanpub (US$11.99 plus VAT). I have updated it with the recently-released population estimates from the Office for National Statistics, as well as information on how GDPR affects subject access requests.

Whether on Leanpub or direct, buyers automatically get updated versions when they come out – I have just sent this new edition to those who had already purchased it – and it comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee. To give you an idea, you can read the introduction here and the list of contents here.

Cancer diets and tech giants: having cake and eating it

I recently worked with Jack Malvern at The Times on a news story on ketogenic diet apps that claim to help treat cancer (subscription required).

A ketogenic diet, which is very low in carbohydrates, can be used under medical supervision to treat children with epilepsy. But Cancer Research UK says there is no evidence it is effective in reducing the risk of people getting cancer or increasing survival rates. Continue reading “Cancer diets and tech giants: having cake and eating it”

My new data journalism e-book, Britdata

BritdataIf I have a data journalism specialist subject, it is Britain. Writing about its public sector means finding out how to extract information on it through Freedom of Information, parliamentary written answers and open data on spending; knowing how to use official published data on Britain’s localities; and understanding the often-messy structure of local public services including councils, police, fire and NHS organisations.

I have just published a new e-book, Britdata: Finding data on the UK for journalists, researchers and campaigners, covering these areas and others, including tips on dealing with data and specific information on all of the UK’s top-tier local authority areas. A PDF of the introduction is here with more information here.

Continue reading “My new data journalism e-book, Britdata”

How to give well this Christmas: donate to super-efficient charities

Buying Christmas presents is always difficult. Tim Harford had some great advice in the Financial Times – his best tip was to “adopt a passive gift-buyer strategy”, by giving something you know the recipients can use, such as hard cash, along with time and attention.

There is another kind of Christmas giving where it makes sense to combine hard cash, time and attention: charitable donations. I wrote a piece for the Guardian in 2013 about charity evaluators and two British charities that they rated very highly, Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) and Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI). Continue reading “How to give well this Christmas: donate to super-efficient charities”

The many problems with automated decision making

I have written about automated decision making or machine learning for Computer Weekly, in particularly the numerous problems with using it. The biggest set of issues is summed up nicely by Joanna Bryson of Bath and Princeton universities: “The reason machine learning is working so well is it is leveraging human culture. It’s getting the bad with the good.”

Continue reading “The many problems with automated decision making”