I decided to write a non-fiction book with the title and subtitle RANKING – The reality, illusion and manipulation of objectivity. The book discusses the Hows and Whys of our love and fear of making ranks and being ranked through many real life examples to be viewed from three different angles (reality, illusion and manipulation) of objectivity. Ranking converts scientific theories to everyday’s experience by raising and answering such question as:
Are college ranking lists objective?
How to rank and rate states based on their fragility, corruption or even happiness?
How to find the most relevant web pages?
How to rank employees?
Life and society is really complex, consequently our message is not so simple such as ”Ranking is good!” or ”Ranking is bad!”. Since we permanently rank ourselves and others and are also being ranked, the message is twofold: how to prepare the possible most objective ranking and how to accept that ranking does not necessarily reflects our real values and achievements. The reader will understand our difficulties to navigate between objective and subjective and gets help to identify and modify her place in real and virtual communities by combining our human intelligence with computational techniques.
Forbes published an article of Jonathan Wai, who gave a new ranking of (not necessarily purely) undergraduate institutions based on the number of Nobel prize winners. Of course, only a small number of schools nurtured Nobel prize winners, the paper discusses the pros and cons of this ranking. (Dr. Wai: Thank you for the nice citation of my Ranking book.)
The rankings are based on 13 performance indicators, which are separated into five categories: 30 percent teaching (the learning environment); 30 percent research (volume, income and reputation); 30 percent citations (research influence); 7.5 percent international outlook (staff, students and research); and 2.5 percent industry income (knowledge transfer).
As you may know, I think “There are three different dimension of your reputation: who you ARE, who YOU SAY you are, who PEOPLE SAY you are. The first characterize your personality and identity; the second reflects your communication strategy, and expresses how you would like to be seen (as the cat says, ”I would like to be seen as a lion”; the third says how other stakeholders participate in the game describe you and your activity.”
I would like to thank you my friend, Fanji Gu, that he translated Ranking to Chinese (with simple character.) The book will be published by Shanghai Educational Publishing House. Special thanks to the Publisher/Editor of the book Wei Huang, who liked the book, and supported the translation.
While the world is disrupted, ranking is still with us. I am sure many of you are too familiar with the new Ranking game . I also believe, together with many of you, that the world – for better or worse – will not be the same, as it was.
As concerns the Ranking book itself, it looks that so far the German, Chinese (with simple characters), Korean and Japan translations have been licensed, and the Hungarian translation seems to be plausible. Assuming we will have some reasonable Fall, I will teach a class at University of Michigan about Ranking.
From mid-December I am thinking about the plan of new book with the working title REPAIR! How to Improve Broken Objects, Ourselves, and Our Society. It looks I will have a co-author, the Hungarian social psychologist Zsuzsa Szvetelszky . Here is a paragraph from the draft of the book proposal:
The question of when to repair and when to replace objects is always with us. We could mention a number of illustrative phenomena. Many of us are suffering with the problem of broken friendships, and we ask ourselves whether or not they can be mended. A stopped clock can be repaired, but a burned-out light bulb must be replaced. A bulb, however, is replaceable. It would be ridiculous to throw out your whole crystal chandelier with sixteen lights (as part of your family inheritance) if one of these lights does not function. But sometimes big companies adoptbusiness policies that do not provide access to spare parts, and a whole new gadget must be bought. The “right to repair” movement started a legal fight to allow consumers to repair their broken electronic devices by being able to buy replacement parts at a reasonable price. So we also review the possible change of the attitude of people from living in a throw-away society to accept consumption reduction.
We prepared an article as a response for the open call for the Hungarian social science journal Replika . You can download the paper from here: