Performance art

So we are to have a new Statutory Performance Indicator for local authority museums. We are to replace the weird “% of museums supported by the authority which have full registration” (annoyingly just at the point where we achieved 100%) with measures of visitor numbers. Now for physical visitors that could be relatively easy - except how do we count those visitors to our big open industrial museum site? Currently we only count those who come into the visitor centre (open April to October, 11am to 4pm), and not the much larger number who use the site during and outwith those times.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we are to count web site visits - not just any web site visits, though, only those which are enquiries which aren’t merely “when is the museum open” or “where is the museum”, etc. The fact that it’s actually impossible to collect meaningful statistics on visits was pointed out during the consultation (by me at least, if not by others), but I assume Audit Scotland or the SMC will be providing us all with the I-Spy MagicStats plug-in for our sites so we can read the minds of visitors, even when they are viewing the site through an intermediate cache.

The really funny thing about this is that it will actually penalise well-contructed sites (which are cached and thereby served up quicker to their visitors) and reward badly-made sites that make caching difficult. Once again, you couldn’t make it up. Sigh.

Still it will achieve one thing - we’ll spend more and more of our time measuring what we do, and less and less doing what we measure. Is this really the best way to be spending public money?

Comments are closed.