Word of the Day – Proxy

proxyIt’s interesting that the Wall Street Journal indicates the value of the Mexican Peso is a proxy for who will win our presidential election.  I guess we can all see that this certainly is an emotional barometer for the consequences.

That thought made me check on how this word entered our lexicon.  Here are some common uses of the word:

  • An agent or substitute authorized to act for another.
  • The authority to act for another, especially when written.
  • A measurement of one physical quantity that is used as an indicator of the value of another.
  • An interface for a service, especially for one that is remote, resource-intensive, or otherwise difficult to use directly.

What struck me was the combination of the last two.  Measuring something that is an indicator, especially when measuring directly would be expensive and difficult.

As many of you who know me have heard, the common tendency in life among very smart people is to let the perfect become the enemy of the good.  You have heard me blog about this in the past.

It is a natural tendency when you know precisely how to measure something.  But, that misses the bigger question.  Would, perhaps, the proxy make more intuitive sense than the true measurement itself?

In our world at this time, might our precision temperature monitoring make more sense to the average American than trying to explain smart grid data …, which only you can understand?

Proxy … another great word for the day.



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