Matt Chester's Reviews > The Tyranny of Metrics

The Tyranny of Metrics by Jerry Z. Muller
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really liked it
Read 2 times. Last read March 3, 2018 to April 3, 2018.

I really enjoyed Muller's 'The Tyranny of Metrics,' and felt it delivered exactly the type of read I thought it would. In a world that is becoming more digitized and people are pushing for increased transparency, Muller writes about instances where it appears we've become too reliant on blindly following the data behind metrics without understanding the harm that may come.

To be clear, Muller is not against metrics but he lays out very good arguments for why they may not always be appropriate, how they get gamed or manipulated, and why they are useless unless they are able to be judged subjectively by people with intimate knowledge of the field and where the shortcoming of those metrics might be. Stretching across areas like schools, police departments, militaries, governments, hospitals, charities and more, Muller gives great examples that are directly applicable and always thought provoking. If anything, I do wish there were a bit more meat on the bones of some of his examples with expanded discussion-- but perhaps there will be a follow up!

The only part that seemed a bit off was towards the end when he spent a short chapter equating modern society's growing need for transparency and metrics to the need for politicians, governments etc. to exercise more privacy and reduce transparency. The argument he was making was about how if every piece of email of a public official is made public, then they will be less likely to speak to their colleagues/opponents with candor and less able to reach the optimal compromises because they will have to worry about these negotiations being made public. While some of his arguments felt valid, it made me squirm in my seat a bit the more he pushed for the right of government to operate with reduced transparency.

All in all, though, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who lives in the world of data and metrics like I do. Muller provides a good mirror with which to look at how you treat metrics and consider whether you need to incorporate more of the 'art' into the 'science' of data and metrics.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 17, 2018 – Shelved
February 17, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
March 3, 2018 – Started Reading
March 24, 2018 –
page 82
34.17%
April 3, 2018 – Finished Reading

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