(photo from the cc flickrstream of diongillard. thanks)
If I was to live in America, I would become a baseball fan. I grew up with cricket, so despite my current German domicile, I’m a cricket fan. In many ways the games are different, but both games are bound by the common thread of bat and ball. Also, both games rely on extensive use of numbers and stats to provide both real time and historical data.
If one mentioned that England were 34/5 , it would enable me ( or any cricket fan) to make a precise judgement about the state of the game. Several hours of play summarised with 2 numbers. From this one can make some deductions about the wicket, the bowling and the brittle state of the English batting line up.
It is this clever use of numbers to create an immediate summary of the game that makes it easy to follow a cricket game while getting on with the rest of your day. 2 seconds on cricinfo brings me up to speed. A test match can last 5 days, but cricket, allows and encourages one to get on with other things while at the same time feeling part of the action. Cricket is the master of continuous partial attention, long before the phrase was invented.
As junior schoolboys someone would sneak a radio into class hide it in his desk, and then pass around a scrap of paper with the score on when anything happened. I think the teacher knew what was going on, but as long as play was relatively slow, he didn’t seem to mind.
I suppose the modern equivalent of that is the cricinfo applet running on my toolbar, and DRM permitting, the tones of Aggersm Boycott and Blofeld on TMS.
I really enjoyed reading Andrew McAfee’s post on baseball statistics and IT competitiveness. Even if you aren’t a baseball fan read it.
Full House is a true geek’s book. It combines paleontology, evolution, and baseball statistics to advance an elegant argument: that we humans have a counterproductive tendency to focus on averages and trends over time, rather than on variation around the average. For Gould, variation is where the action is.
Image a world where HR people were able to derive as much value and pleasure out of analytics as cricket and baseball fans do. At the moment most HR departments can’t even really keep score.