Sometimes you need to geocode a few addresses, and while Google is obviously the gold standard, the Google Maps API conditions are quite strict – you are supposed only to geocode addresses you will be displaying in conjunction with a Google map. That’s no use for bulk / backend geocoding, the kind you might do for analysis purposes.
Via my departmental maillist, this rather useful guide by Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro at Chicago: Code and Data for the Social Sciences: A Practitioner’s Guide. They write:
Though we all write code for a living, few of the economists, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists, or other empirical researchers we know have any formal training in computer science.
Social science and computer science is a great combination – it happens to be my background. And since one of my current projects is looking at what new-fangled ‘data scientists’ do – I thought I would assemble here some additional ‘lessons for economists from software engineering’ to complement Gentzkow and Shapiro’s.