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.

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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: