The Metrics Syndrome

Resource Details
Publication Date: 
October 2008
Arlene Goldbard
Number of Pages: 

In “The Metrics Syndrome,” Arlene Goldbard asks practitioners to take a deeper look into the apparent need for metrics-evaluation and make sure that this quantitative evaluation is, in fact, advancing the work.  She suggests that community and cultural work has fallen into belief that every good endeavor can and should be backed up with hard numeric evidence to prove its success. In fact, as she explains, this notion is in direct conflict with values inherent in community cultural development. Drawing upon policy, philosophy, cognitive science, and mathematics, Goldbard makes a case for the ineffectiveness of using metrics to evaluate success in community work. Instead, Goldbard urges her peers to remember surprise and value in unquantifiable factors that have a profound effect on community and art. Drawing on numerous examples, Goldbard suggests that like in art, numerous disciplines have reached success accidentally, through experimentation and giving way to an unexpected outcome.

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