The Tyranny of Metrics

The Tyranny of Metrics

Jerry Z. Muller

We live in a world in which privacy is being eroded both through technology (the Internet) and a culture that proclaims the virtue of candor while dismissing the need for shame. In such a post-privacy society, people are inclined to overlook the value of secrecy. 8 Thus, the power of “transparency” as a magic formula is such that its counterproductive effects are often ignored. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” has become the credo of the new faith of Wikileakism: the belief that making public the internal deliberations of all organizations and governments will make the world a better place. But more often, the result is paralysis. Politicians forced to reveal their every action are unable to arrive at compromises that make legislation possible. Officials who need to fear that their internal deliberations will be made public are less positioned to make effective public policy. Intelligence agencies that require secrecy to gather information on the nation’s enemies are thwarted. In each case, transparency becomes the enemy of performance.

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