Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Explaining Health Care

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

We’ve been talking a lot about how comics are a great way to boil down complex topics, conveying these topics in a form that will get people to actually read and understand them. Publisher Hill and Wang has really taken this to heart, having published graphic narratives such as the The 9/11 Report and The Stuff of Life: a graphic guide to genetics and DNA. For their next project, they’ve enlisted MIT economist Jonathan Gruber to adapt the 2,400-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into a graphic guide tentatively titled Health Care Reform.

As one of the architects behind the bill, Jonathan Gruber is uniquely qualified to adapt the bill, though he was reluctant at first:

“I just wasn’t sure this would be useful enough. Then my wife and kids said, ‘You’re crazy. You’ve got to do this.’ So I decided to give it a shot. My family made me realize that there is such a misunderstanding of the bill and that it’s important to explain why we need this, and what it does. I’ve found that when people understand it, they like it.”

The book is slated for publication later this year (though anyone who needs easier-to-digest information now can always check out the bill’s official website).

(via ICv2)

Citation Needed

Monday, February 14th, 2011

I just finished reading Scott Westerfeld‘s novel Extras, the fourth book in the Uglies Trilogy. Putting aside discussion of the proper definition of “trilogy” for now, the book was interesting to me partly because the characters in it operated in a “reputation economy.” A reputation economy is one where a person’s worth is defined not by their material wealth, but by the deeds they do and how well-known they are. Extras is not the first work to explore such a concept, as Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom also runs on a reputation economy, and it has real-world applications on the Internet: Twitter calculates a reputation score for each user, and many sites like Digg allow you to vote on comments left by other users.

In order for a reputation economy to work, people have to receive credit for the things they do. Online, this usually means linking back to the source with proper attribution. Easy enough with articles, but images can be a tricky matter. Cool images often find themselves linked, e-mailed, uploaded to new sites, watermarks added, downloaded and uploaded again, and so on. Many artists don’t receive credit for the cool things they make.

Sick of this misappropriation, H. Caldwell Tanner and Rosscott have prepared a helpful flowchart to assist the average Internet user in crediting things properly. But this is no dry flow chart of text and funny shapes. This flowchart has illustrations. This flowchart is a comic! A very cool comic, indeed, one that you  might actually feel the need to share with others. With proper credit to the original creator, of course.

(via Boing Boing)

The Glorious Struggle

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Communism has been on a lot of people’s minds lately, though perhaps for the wrong reasons, with many people equaling socialism to communism, the better to make villains out of those who promote socialist policies by associating them with the big bogeyman of the 20th Century.

George Rigakos is also creating heroes and villains, but from the opposite side of things. He’s adapting the Communist Manifesto into a series of graphic novels from Red Quill Books, in order to teach his students political economy at Carleton University. According to him, “The original work of Marx and Engels focused on the bourgeoisie, the proletariat and their heroes – the Communists.”

The adaptation will be broken up into four parts, each focusing on a different group. The first book, “Historical Materialism” is available now in English for under $20. The books are also set for release in French, German, and Spanish.

Check out some interior art in the book trailer:

(via Bleeding Cool)

World Comics Power

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Comics are a great communications tool for people in impoverished areas because of their highly visual nature and ease of access; even people who don’t know how to read can still enjoy a comic, and they don’t need complex or expensive equipment to make one. With that in mind, the World Comics Network conducts a series of workshops teaching local peoples how to make “grassroots comics,” focusing on topics that matter to them and hopefully encouraging discussion and debate. Starting in India, the program has spread to nearby Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, and even further abroad to Africa (Mozambique, Benin, Tanzania), Latin America (Brazil), and Europe (United Kingdom, Finland).

The program has also began to touch upon comics journalism, using the medium not just to encourage debate, but to disseminate information in the first place. Programs are currently being set up at various universities throughout India.

Most of the comics created by the World Comics Network are intended for local distribution only, photocopies that are passed around, or in some cases, put on exhibition by the roadside for passersby to view. However, a handful of professionally printed compilations are available, including Understanding Gandhi Through Comics and Whose Development (about development projects in India).

Brought to You by the Letters C, D, and O

Monday, September 13th, 2010

The financial crisis is a complex situation that affects a lot of people, which makes it a natural fit for the comic format, if not downright popular. Pro Publica takes it own stab at explaining collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, in a short feature called “Welcome to CDO World!

Though it combines text and pictures in a sequential manner, calling it a “diagram” might be more accurate—there’s no dialog and most of the story is told in the captions. Still, it provides a brief and easy-to-comprehend summary of how the banks hurt themselves by creating false demand, and for those readers looking for a little more meat, they can always  turn to the feature article that this comic supplements.

(via Scott McCloud)

The American Balancing Act

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

We’re back in an election year, which means it’s time to check in on Sean Tevis, an information architect from Kansas who ran for Kansas State Representative back in 2008 and lost by a handful of votes in his district. Not to be deterred, he kept working throughout 2009 and now he’s back and better than ever—this time running for U.S. Congress, Kansas 2nd District.

He came to fame through a series of xkcd-like comic strips posted on his website, which were highly effective in helping to raise funds for his campaign. This year, he’s not looking for funds for his campaign so much as he is trying to change the way we think about the political system and hopefully restructure it into something that fits our needs.

The idea is to form a “First Nation” that will offer its members benefits, but also ask them to weigh in on issues occasionally. Hopefully this will create consensus and allow people in the United States to make decisions, allowing the country to move forward. Of course, my description is greatly simplifying the issue and not describing it in full, but that’s why Mr. Tevis has created a special comic explaining the whole concept.

I take issue with the name of the group, since “First Nations” (plural) is the collective name given to the aboriginal peoples of Canada (and it’s interesting to note that Tevis’ original concept used the native tribes of the United States as an example) but overall the concept seems sound and it’s worth a look if you’re interested in political change, hate the current polarization of the country, or just find the economic theories of Mancur Olsen dead sexy.

All the News That’s Fit to Draw

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Given that Japan is losing its fourth Prime Minister in four years, now seems like a good time to talk about Manga no Shimbun, the manga newspaper. Young people just aren’t reading the news these days, and this is an attempt to draw young Japanese back into the world of current events with something they definitely do still read: comics. Each comic posted on the site is an actual news story, depicting the major events of the day in topics such as politics, economics, sports, entertainment, and leisure.

For example, Honda is increasing production in China:

With over one hundred manga artists at their disposal, the site updates several times a day to bring you the latest developments, like what’s going on with that aforementioned Prime Minster, Yukio Hatoyama. Previously, they posted a whole series on “regime change.” But you know you’d rather just read the latest on Lindsay Lohan.

The site is currently only available in Japanese, though the creators have previously mentioned wanting to translate it into English, French, and Korean.

(via Wired)

The Failing Economy Explained

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Given recent economic events, many are probably wishing they had studied finance in college so they could make sense of it all. Of course, that would mean they’d be right in the thick of it… and possibly unemployed. So instead, let’s just have Business Pundit explain it, in comic form!

It gets a bit thick in the middle, but hang on, because it should make some modicum of sense by the end. Which is depressing, really.