Sometimes, we can't measure what we need, so we invent a proxy, something that's much easier to measure and stands in as an approximation.
TV advertisers, for example, could never tell which viewers would be impacted by an ad, so instead, they measured how many people saw it. Or a model might not be able to measure beauty, but a bathroom scale was a handy stand in.
A business person might choose cash in the bank as a measure of his success at his craft, and a book publisher, unable to easily figure out if the right people are engaging with a book, might rely instead on a rank on a single bestseller list. One last example: the non-profit that uses money raised as a proxy for difference made.
You've already guessed the problem. Once you find the simple proxy and decide to make it go up, there are lots of available tactics that have nothing at all to do with improving the very thing you set out to achieve in the first place. When we fall in love with a proxy, we spend our time improving the proxy instead of focusing on our original (more important) goal instead.
Gaming the system is never the goal. The goal is the goal.
By Seth Godin.
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[quote align="center" color="#999999"]As a Web professional, you can get great inspiration from a good conference session. While conferences may not bring value to all industries[/quote]
The Web industry is stacked high with inspirational experts and quiet little geniuses beavering away from small home offices. A good Web conference shines a light on these clever souls and promotes professional growth and shared knowledge.
The number of conferences surrounding the Web design and development field continues to grow as new processes, techniques and other shared experiences, turned learning opportunities, are always presenting themselves throughout the industry. The problem becomes, with so many conferences that are out of reach for one reason or another, how does one catch the highlights from the conference that won't fit into a 140 character tweet?