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    where I've been and what I've been up to (no. 2 in a series)

    As some of you may know, I've been employed, this spring, by the US government, specifically the Census Bureau.

    The actual "counting people" part of the Census hasn't begun yet: at this point the census workers are only "address canvassing"—going out in the field in order to confirm the existence of residences in the Census' database. So, for about six weeks now, that's what I've been doing.

    This is a pretty good job for me, as it involves doing three things that I like:

    Walking. This job involves so much foot travel that I've taken to referring to it as "Subsidized Walking." But I enjoy it, especially because the part of MA where I'm currently living is almost excruciatingly pretty at this time of year. Being paid to take a walk for a few hours every day in nice weather is a pretty sweet deal as far as I'm concerned.

    Data hygeine. Of course, I'm not really being paid just to take a walk, but rather... to take a walk and do data entry. I have a handheld device that contains a list of residential addresses, and I'm tasked with making my way through the list, confirming the existence of those addresses, and adding any that aren't already in the database. This may sound boring, but I believe in the virtues of maintaining good and accurate data, so a big civil project designed to gather and aggregate such data is the kind of thing I can actually get myself pretty excited about. (It is not entirely unrelated to the impulse that drives me to occasionally contribute to Wikipedia.)

    Interacting with the public. I'm a curious and inquisitive person, and so it's interesting (if perhaps a little bit weird) to be literally mandated to go around knocking on people's doors. I'm typically pretty friendly, and often the courtesy interviews I perform are enjoyable, although sometimes its hard to overcome people's intial distrust. (Note that I made the area police log twice: April 7th and April 9th.)

    But all in all it's pretty much good times. Or "was," I should say: the address canvassing phase of the work ended this week (at least in this area), and the question of whether I'll be called on to participate in the next phase is still very wide open.


    Wednesday, May 06, 2009
    1:53 PM


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