Be Careful What You Measure

Seth Godin on what to obsess over:

What are you tracking? If you track concepts, your concepts are going to get better. If you track open rates or clickthrough, then your subject lines are going to get better. Up to you.

It’s long something I’ve believed: if you measure it, you will attempt to maximize it, even if the metric is something you’d rather minimize, like CO2 emissions.

Competition, Market Position, and Statistics

Watch this video a few times. It’s funny. It’s catchy. It’s kitsch. Now watch it a few times more. The ad, for a Lada VAZ 2109, appeared sometime in the 90s. It reflects the influence of MTV and other cultural imports from the West, but the details betray it’s command economy provenance. The snow appears […] » about 400 words

Data Visualization and the OPAC

A chat with Ryan Eby, also an Edward Tufte fan, elicited this line about another reason we continue to struggle with the design of our catalogs:

data isn’t usable by itself

if it was then the OPAC would just be marc displays

And yesterday I was speaking with Corey Seeman about how to measure and use “popularity” information about catalog items. It got me thinking about Flickr’s interestingness metric, which seems to combine the number of times a photo has been “favorited,” viewed, and commented. In a related fashion, I’ve been looking at ways to track the terms people use to find catalog items and use those to help improve search results. A basic form of this is in the OPAC prototype I demonstrated yesterday.

And all of this has me looking forward to Aaron Krowne’s Quality Metrics presentation at code4lib.