History repeating itself…

April 24, 2008

As well as preparing the dissertation and doing the research, a researcher is expected to contribute a few academic papers and attend conferences. I’ve had a paper accepted for ETHICOMP 2008 in Italy in September which is a summary of the early work I’ve done, here’s the abstract.

All I need to do now is to get someone to pay the expenses for me to go…

It’s been a busy week, this one. Tuesday I had a day off everything to take the Phythian youth up Whernside (biggest ‘ill in Yorkshire) probably more alarming was the fact that in November 2006 I was hospitalised with level 4 heart failure following severe ideopathic dilated cardimyopathy – just proves the wonders of modern science. Not long ago I’d have been in the queue for a new heart or dead! Wednesday, very brave considering Tuesday, I’d got John Seddon locally promoting his new book and a very interesting and forthright one he did too. As one local councillor put it – “good salesman”. I think John sold a few books, too or at least I hope he did!

One of my colleagues brought an elderly (ex libris) volume with him and asked John if he’d read it. I didn’t catch the answer but borrowed it for a quick read, it was entitled “How organisations measure success: the use of performance indicators in government” published in 1992 and written by Carter, Klein and Day.  Voltaire once quoted Marie-Antoinette as saying “There’s no such thing as a new hat”, in other words, nothing new under the sun. This book and the arguments around NI14 etc just emphasise this, to quote from the penultimate paragraph: “Performance indicators have been seen as technical instruments at best and propaganda at worst, and in any case incomprehensible or misleading. There has been no real attempt to use them as instruments of parliamentary accountability: to ask the questions of how the performance of government should be measured and what indicators are needed. Yet this, surely, is what parliamentary accountability is all about – in theory, at least.”

The book has a number of juicy sentences just like that. I’ll have to look at that Audit Commission anniversary volume to see if they’ve quoted any.