Monday, August 13, 2012

Anything can be counted!


I've heard it: your job is special, your work is unusual, you deal with subjective impressions of human beings, and human beings are all different. If there is an reason out there for why someone's work will not improve by being counted and tallied, it's been offered to me.

And generally rejected. I do think almost anything can be counted (though I will admit that some counts are better than others!). And here's an example: The  Daily Meal blog has analyzed the first six months of reviews of the New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, comparing his reviews with those of his two immediate predecessors. The screenshot above analyzes one factor, the number of stars each critic awarded. There are also charts demonstrating reviews by borough and reviews by location. OK, I admit, the charts are a little busy, what with each reviewer's picture repeated. But there's nothing wrong with the analysis. Here's a taste:
The three critics reviewed the same number of restaurants, but Wells’ 50 stars in six months makes him the most generous out of the gate. That’s three more stars than Bruni, and 14 more than Sifton. That generosity was also mirrored in how the new critic distributed stars. Wells bestowed two goose-eggs, seven one-spots, 15 two-fers, three three-star reviews, and reaffirmed one restaurant, Le Bernardin’s, four-star status. The three three-star reviews were on par with Bruni (4) and Sifton (3). But Sifton was more than twice as likely as Wells and five times as likely as Bruni to drop a big fat zero. Both Sifton and Bruni were almost twice as likely as Wells to give a restaurant one star. . . Most notably, Wells has been the czar of the two-star review.

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