Fun and games for philanthropy and learning

December 19, 2014

The concepts of gamification and newsgames have been around for a few years, and while piling up badges and check-ins can be seen as pointless or even vain, some implementations serve a higher good. In the weekend’s Data Dive, we take a look at some games that promote giving and learning.

The good news in ‘Afghanistan’s Marshall Plan’

December 19, 2014

As the U.S. continues its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, it’s worth taking a look at how much the nation has spent on aid–and how effective it has (or hasn’t) been.

The oil train glut shows how little the Keystone XL pipeline matters

December 18, 2014

How important is the Keystone XL pipeline really?

When it comes to moving petroleum through the United States, the Keystone XL pipeline is the rock star of transportation modes, garnering an extra large share of attention from politicians, activists and the press. Just this week, Senate Majority Leader-elect Mitch McConnell announced that passage of a bill approving the pipeline will be his first order of business when the 114th Congress convenes in January. Opponents, meanwhile, point to environmental and safety concerns, often citing the adverse impact that the pipeline would have on climate change and  fossil fuel dependency.

A (very) brief history of television displays

December 17, 2014

As the home stretch of the holiday shopping season bears down upon us, the sheer number of options made available by the television display arms race can be enough to trigger one’s inner Grinch. Here at Data Dive we won’t tell you what to buy, but with the help of this Reuters graphic, we hope to provide a cursory peek inside the technologies that drive all of those options.

How record crops generate food inequality

December 16, 2014

Last week the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations announced that world cereal production was expected to hit a record high in 2014, helping the worldwide stock-to-use ratio—a proxy for supply conditions—to enjoy the highest levels in over a decade.

The world’s rising tides have something for everyone to worry about

December 15, 2014

It has  always struck me as an odd contortion of logic that the same voices that condemn the crippling effect that America’s mounting debt will have on future generations should also turn such a willfully blind eye to issues concerning the physical world in which those same generations will live.

‘Why women are stripey’ and other informational videos

December 12, 2014

On Friday Mashable published a very amusing video of Bill Nye explaining evolution using emojis. With that as inspiration, this weekend’s Data Dive takes on a video theme.

Ev Williams is right not to care about Instagram

December 12, 2014

In a blog post on Wednesday, Instagram boasted that it had surpassed 300 million active users, and as tech journalists were quick to point out, that number eclipses Twitter’s 284 million actives. The comparison did not appear to sit well with Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, who told Fortune’s Erin Griffith:

In Uber’s fast expansion, big legal headaches

December 11, 2014

On Monday, Portland, Oregon, brought a lawsuit against the app-based ride hailing service Uber for operating without the consent of the city. But this wasn’t Uber’s biggest domestic legal headache in a week in which the company was sued by two California district attorneys for misleading customers about background checks, a driver in Chicago was investigated for rape, and  a former driver was charged with vehicular manslaughter in the death of a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco.

On the debt limit, Congress is seriously unfunny

December 10, 2014

In the days following the November elections, a popular refrain among critics of the political press was that claims that “Republicans have to show they can govern” were “a reporter’s wish masquerading as an accepted fact.” The essence of the argument is that obstructionism has proven successful, with November’s results providing the proof.