Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Indicators for Valentine's Day

It probably doesn't surprise the Gentle Reader of this blog that I pay attention when people bring up how they could use data to make better decisions. What continues to astonish me is how easily data-driven decision making and the use of metrics to measure progress has made its way into popular culture and everyday conversation. There's an important lesson for community indicators practitioners here: people aren't as afraid of data as they used to be, nor do they relegate data to the province of "experts."

That being said, I need to share a couple of paragraphs from a recent article just in time for Valentine's Day. In the Washington Post today, in an article titled A Dater's Bill of Rights, we read the following:

You have the right to regular status updates

That is, the "where do we stand?" discussion. I despise uncertainty. I think the problem is that in dating, there are no metrics. In sports or business or politics, there are clear ways to measure success -- won-loss records, quarterly earnings, vote totals. In the early days of a budding relationship, when you don't yet know the other person's signals or how best to communicate your own feelings, sussing out where things are going can be like reading skywriting on a windy day. Skywriting written in Sanskrit. And you're not even looking up.

To remedy this, I think both parties should exchange formal reports once a week, detailing attraction levels, the effects of various factors, etc.: "I'm happy to report that my affection for Ryan is up 31 percent this week, continuing a steady three-week growth of increases (see chart on p. 34). Picking me up, with flowers no less, in the first quarter of week three caused a 25 percent increase alone. Since we have become intimate, Ryan has shown a lot of potential and a real go-getter attitude in the sack, as well (see chart labeled "Satisfaction" p. 36)."

Charting affection levels? Metrics for dating? Welcome to Valentine's Day for the data-driven.

Anyone have any stories to share?


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