Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Learning from politics

I'm extremely careful normally to keep my professional and personal lives somewhat separate, at least in Social Media terms.
Online I try and keep my professional life in Linkedin and my Personal Life in Facebook.
But as more and more professional organizations that I'm part of move into the Facebook space it becomes harder.
One of the reasons I do this is that I am very aware that my political views are unlikely to be shared by everyone I might want to do business with. In the USA with an election just gone its clear that we are as split as a nation politically as its possible to be. And the partisan conversations are getting more and more vitriolic and just plan mean.

As regular readers will know I became a citizen this year.And so I was very proud to be casting my first ballot for many years. As a learning pro and as a new citizen I feel a certain responsibility to look back at the election and see what lessons can be learned from it.

$3,000,000,000 later and no real difference
It looks like the total cost of this election at Federal, State and local levels across the country will be around 3 Billion dollars. The President is still the President. The Speaker of the House is still the Speaker of the House. The Senate Majority leader is still the Majority Leader.  Yes, a few Senate seats and a bunch of House seats changed parties but I have to wonder if the country got value for money. Both parties are talking about the deficit.  $3B would have been a nice start to paying that down.

Learning Question: What other very expensive learning projects change very little?

Low Engagement of something that is pretty important
Of the Approximately 311 Million people in the USA about 169 million of them are registered voters.
Now I know that there are lots of reasons why you might not be a registered voter. I only became a citizen this year so I know there are lots of non citizens out there. Also that 311M includes about 74M under 18 but even so that still means that some 20M people who could be registered are not. And so even though the winner got 51.4% of 'the popular vote that actually accounts for only 20% of the population. Even allowing for people who can't register to vote it means that more people chose not to vote for any candidate than voted for any individual candidate. A lot more.

Learning Question: What 'Important' learning projects to people really not care about?

Big Data beats wishful thinking.
Nate Silver from the FiveThrityEight blog of the NY times is the main winner out of this election. He called pretty much every race correctly (with the exception of a Montana Senate Seat) by looking at the data. He looked at all the polls and combined them to see bigger numbers. And with bigger numbers the margins of error get smaller. When people on the loosing side of polls critisize them and say that they over or under sample this group or that group, it's a mix of politics and wishful thinking.

Learning Question: Is there important data that we are missing because we don't like the message?

Just some musing from your friendly Learning Pro

Happy Learning

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