Rankings, Metrics, etc

February 18, 2021

This is a nice piece capturing an interesting observation by Dan Drezner (whom as you may have noticed from my blog is someone I find often stimulating) about the explosion in the past 10 or so years of groups offering metrics to evaluate different things.

These metrics can be funny, or odd but very important, or simply really important but still worth thinking about critically.  There are many of them and they seem to be a genre of the rising conflation of metrics 

It speaks to a larger pattern, where independent or semi-independent (but often agenda-driven) judges set themselves up to assess and score some set of actors on some criteria related to performance or capacity.  This is true about things like the people who rate stocks in the market, that is, Moody's and other ratings companies; it is true about the US News and World Report rankings of universities, and other rankings of universities; and it is true of the many international metric system is out there, from the UN’s own human development report through many others.

It is an interesting fact that we have begun to break the world as much as we do, and in many ways a good thing.  But who guards the guardians?  And who decides how to assess their metrics?  And how transparent are the metrics they use, anyway?

Lots of things to think about here.  Part of the contemporary global imaginary, I'd say.

All for today.  Be well.  Hopefully your basement won't flood--