Making a Mad Libs-esque tool

So, the idea is to make an interactive tool that uses the basic syntax of something like, say, outcome measures to build your own customized version(s). Not so much to create a perfect set of measures for your program/organization, but to get the idea of how it works so you can write some better, more useful ones on your own.

This is something that might complement an article about the topic to give better context.

Embedding an editable Google Sheet with data validation drop-downs seems like a simple option.

Continue reading Making a Mad Libs-esque tool

Art Rubrics: Leo Tolstoy

I know this isn’t how art is supposed to work. And maybe—and this is incredibly plausible—I have no idea what I’m talking about. But I like the idea of summarizing individuals’ perspectives on art—especially those of famous artists and critics themselves—into a sort of grading rubric or scorecard to more readily understand, convey, and compare answers to the question: what is “good” art? (This is not an attempt to oversimplify or objectify art even though that’s essentially the exact thing I’m doing.) Alas…

First, has the artist transmitted or evoked a feeling or emotion?
   ▢ Yes    ▢ No  
If yes, how infectious is that feeling or emotion?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Does the work seem accessible to all—bourgeoisie and working class alike—rather than just an elite few?
   ▢ Yes    ▢ No  
Does the subject of the work include one or both of the following?
   ▢ Unity between man and God or some other higher being or purpose
   ▢ Connectedness among men, the shared human experience
How individual was the emotional experience that you received; that is, to what degree did you relate to or internalize the feelings transmitted from the work?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
How clearly were the feelings transmitted? (Consider the simplicity and clarity of the work.)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Most importantly, does the artist appear sincere in his or her own possession of that emotion?
   ▢ Yes    ▢ No  
Does the work exhibit common characteristics of counterfeit or imitations of true art?
   ▢ “Borrowing” (stealing)
   ▢ “Imitating” (simply replicating real life)
   ▢ “Striking” (frivolous effects or gimmicks)
   ▢ “Interesting” (overly detailed or trivial)
jtp Tolstoy, Leo. What is Art? 1897. (Aylmer Maude’s translation)

Next up, eventually: Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy.

Repurposing a ’90s hot-or-not app to prioritize community needs

I’ve spent a lot of time in communities interviewing people, a lot of time looking at 990 tax forms, a lot of time scrolling through Census records, and even more time searching on Google. The goal has always been to identify critical community needs, assets, and the gulf between them. While there are universal themes, each community is different.

Recently, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to more accurately prioritize local issues by engaging more people but without adding a significant amount of time. There’s got to be a way to quantitatively and systematically get more and better input. (Without losing or replacing the subjective humanity of conversations, of course.)

About a month ago, I read an entirely unrelated FiveThirtyEight article ranking the historic Oscar winners for best original song. The methodology struck me. The author, Walt Hickey, solicited his readers to use a simple head-to-head random matchup generator. Songs were ranked by their win-rates; the overall winner being that which won the most head-to-head matchups. Pretty simple.

Continue reading Repurposing a ’90s hot-or-not app to prioritize community needs

Helping Pitt through the Magic of (Pseudo) Science

The time I wrote a (featured!) fanpost for Cardiac Hill, SB Nation’s Pitt Panthers blog, outlining my approach to tracking and analyzing my game day rituals.

“October 2011. Piscataway, New Jersey. Rutgers is on the sixteen-yard line, ready to put themselves solidly ahead of Pitt. The quarterback snaps the ball, hands it off to the running back, and my wife reaches for the coffee pot. She fills my lucky mug—the one I gave to my grandfather for his eightieth birthday, and later inherited. As the black coffee reaches the mug’s brim, Pitt forces a fumble and recovers the ball. I take a satisfying sip and congratulate Annie on the defensive play of the game—all the way from Highland Park, back in Pittsburgh. It wasn’t enough to change the outcome that day, but I knew we were on to something.”

Read the whole thing over at: