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Monday, March 28, 2005

BlogNashville to Include Computer-Assisted Reporting Camp for Bloggers

Suppose you get an email from Joe Schmoe at the Progressive Conservative Institute of Advanced Retrovision think tank in Washington, D.C. and Joe tells you that he and his retrothinking experts have done a study that proves that Program X is the best/worst government program ever conceived and that it saves/costs the taxpayers 28 guzillion dollars every year.

What would happen if the first thing Joe heard back from you was this: "That's nice, Joe, and I'm sure it's a really interesting study. I'd like to see your data sets." You think Joe and the retro thinkers would be more or less likely to spin the numbers knowing you will ask for his datasets and understand what they did? And wouldn't it be interesting to call the MSM reporter who uncritically reported Joe's claims and tell him about what you found when you checked those claims?

Or maybe Joe is a flak for a government agency that thinks the taxpayers who read your blog ought to know - contrary to what you have been saying recently - what a wonderful job the bureaucrats are doing. And he wants you to publish the "objective study" that shows just how wonderful.

Perhaps Joe is with Monster Motors in Detroit and he wants you to know that government agency's recent report that his cars are flipping over at unacceptably high rates is a bunch of Washington hogwash. "And here's our statistical analysis of their statistical analysis that proves it!"

Knowing how to recognize the uses and abuses of data is essential for bloggers, just as it is for anybody concerned with public policy issues. That kind of empowerment is what Computer-Assisted Research and Reporting (CARR) is all about and it's why the Media Bloggers Association is joining with The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, to offer a two-day CARR Boot Camp in Nashville May 5-6 in conjunction with BlogNashville May 6-7.

The Database 101/201 CARR Boot Camp will be held at the Freedom Forum at Vanderbilt University and is open to all MBA members but must due to space limitations be capped at the first 15 to enroll. A second CARR Boot Camp will be held for MBA members at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., most likely in August or September.

You can see the boot camp agenda here and you can get additional information about registration by emailing me at Mark.Tapscott@Heritage.org I promise to get back to you promptly.

There are no charges for attending and a textbook and other course materials are provided. Registration for the CARR boot camp is separate from registering to attend the regular sessions of BlogNAshville, which you can do here.

See you in Nashville!