CoolData blog is a resource for those who work with analytics, predicative modeling and related “cool data” information for higher education advancement. The blog is primarily written by Kevin MacDonell, whose day job is director of advancement services for the Dalhousie University External Relations Department in Halifax, Nova Scotia. CoolData does feature occasional guest authors, such as Peter Wylie, who co-wrote the book Score!: Data-Driven Success for Your Advancement Team with MacDonell for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). In MacDonell’s bio on the blog, he says that his goal is to promote the use of data mining and predictive modeling, particularly in higher education advancement.
MacDonell posts on the blog about his and others’ publications, presentations and classes — some free, some not — with links for easy access. As previously mentioned, however, some posts are entirely written by guest bloggers like Wylie and John Sammis. Certain posts are how-to guides for Oracle, SQL, Excel and other tools; these pieces delve into the how and why of a particular method’s application to advancement purposes. Sometimes MacDonell posts personal opinions about how events in the news affect the advancement community and/or offer encouragement to its members. Fortunately, there appears to be very little rant.
CoolData blog can be informative for anyone. Most of MacDonell’s technical posts are for more advanced users, while the guest blogs typically require less expertise. All the technical posts assume some level of familiarity with the tool under discussion; so for the novice data geek, while the blog is great for learning about possibilities with data, it is not really a learning tool. If you don’t get to play with data in your job, the blog may not be overly helpful to your daily work, but the content might give you some ideas about what to ask your data team, along with some language to make your needs more clearly known.
The blog has a simple, clean and easy-to-read format. Posts are monthly — thankfully not adding to your feed or email overload. They are easily accessible by scrolling through them via the links at the bottom of the page or the “categories” list about a third of the way down the page in the right frame. Just under the categories list, one will see linked titles of recent and top posts. There is an all-inclusive search function as well as a search-by-month-and-year feature under the “top posts” list. The option to subscribe by RSS is under the “posts by month” search. An email subscription sign-up is closer to the top of the right sidebar, and MacDonell’s twitter feed is just under that. MacDonell provides links to a variety of data-related blogs and websites at the bottom of the right frame. See below for two of the aforementioned lists side by side for your reference:
Overall, it is an interesting blog to explore, but would probably be most interesting to people whose role includes data analysis.
Christine A. Mildner, CFRE, has had a long and rewarding career in healthcare and education fundraising. Currently, she is the senior philanthropy analyst at Legacy Health in Portland, Oregon. She also is a consultant and principal of Strategic Edge Resource Consulting. She was an editor of the Internet Prospector, and has volunteered with Connections throughout her career.