John Irons's Blog


Economic News, Data and Analysis

Content is King

ArgMax has gone a number of years with the same overall look, navigation, tools, etc. I’ve also been lax about updating the site. Time for a change.
Since staking my claim to this small corner of the web, a lot has changed in how information is presented. The rise of blogs, user generated content (and other so-called “Web 2.0”), digg, video, etc has led to a wider variety of sites and styles.
One common trend that I have seen in the blog / news / commentary / magazine webWorld has been growing “feature creep” – both in terms of tools as well as presentation. Your typical blog or news site today has places for comments, ads, navigation, search, rss links, calendars, links to authors’ bios, log-in boxes, “recommend me!”, disclaimers, links to friends/sister sites/parent sites/corporate sponsors, tabs for
topics, etc.

You can go just about anywhere to find this – just two examples: TPM Cafe or USA Today. (Not that they are bad sites, just a bit cluttered) I see two reasons for this. First, these tools are widely available and easy to implement, even for novices. Popular blogging software and websites makes it easier to use these tools as well. Second, everyone is game to experiment a little (or a lot)–throw lots of stuff at the wall, and see what sticks.
There is a down-side, of course. First, the junking up of websites is not aesthetically appealing. Second, with soooo much stuff, if becomes mildly disorienting surfing from one cluttered site to anther. Finally, for repeat users, 90% of the junk on the page (including navigation) does not change from visit to visit, so what’s new is lost in what’s old.
So, what to do.
For my part, I want to experiment with simplicity. You can still get to the old site – all the features, tools, archives, etc, but this page will be a study of how to slim down and let the content speak. Minor navigational links are below to take you to more content. But I hope that less is indeed more at this point in web design.
… and this is an experiment, subject to revision, extension, modification. Hope you like it.

Filed under: Economics

Income in 2006

The income story from Census today – quick first take. Not much jumped out at me besides the drop in full-time, year round earnings (see below).
* While median household income increased by $356 between 2005 and 2006, it is still $1,043 below its peak in 1999.
* The household increase was due entirely to an increase in full-time workers and changes in family composition:
— Median earnings of full-time, year-round workers fell by $482 for men, and $388 for women.
— These median earnings are $2,353 below peak levels for men, and $1,335 below peak levels for women.
* Little change in income distribution – the top quintile still has more income than the bottom 80%.

Filed under: Economics