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Social Optimisation REDUX

08 June 201203:26PMthings

Back in 2010 I wrote a thingy about social optimisation. In hindsight, it's a bit rubbish. It's not very mathematical (adding +10 for no reason other than having something organised), and I tried to cram waaay too many terms in just for the sake of having more terms. And also I never used it. So I've decided to try again.

Just for reference, here's what that looked like:

I'll be honest. How that ever seemed to be an elegant and useful abstraction of the thought processes behind deciding to do anything escapes me. The question of whether something is enjoyable (E and S) is ultimately not anything quantifiable. I know just from looking at it whether it looks appealing or not. By the same token, number of people is no guarantee of a good time, and specialised gear is probably better represented as a fixed cost rather than a seperate term. In short, it sucks.

So for this version, I'm going to base it on something I already subconsciously do, which is back-converting cost into hours of work necessary to pay for it. What I need a formula for is feasibility, and at this point in my my life, the limiting factor there is financial. What I'm looking for, basically, is value for money.

This is actually already in my initial equation. Problem is, I started from a flawed premise of describing 'merit' rather than value. I want to know how many hours of fun, of whatever variety, my dollar is buying, and let that be a factor in my decision, rather than getting the equation to decide for me. So let's start with that.

t / p

Okay. Good. This gives me a number, in actual units - hours per dollar. Why this, and not dollars per hour? Well, firstly, I like the idea that bigger is better. Secondly, I want to frame this in terms of how much I'm getting, not how much I'm spending. And thirdly, because of something rather nifty regarding pay-rates, which are given in dollars-per-hour. If you multiply your distraction per dollar by your pay rate per hour, you get a number.

That number gives you your entertainment hours to work hours ratio. That is, how many hours of this given type of entertainment will one hour of work get you? If that number is above 1, it's basically affordable; an hour of your entertainment is costing you less than one hour of work and you come out on top, you will generally play more than you work. If it's less than one, you're living beyond your means; you need to find better paying work or cheaper pastimes or you'll end up working more than you play.

An example. The Avengers. 2.3 hours. $15.50. That's 0.14 hours per dollar - each dollar buys you 8.9 minutes of Joss Whedon-y goodness. Now say you have a crappy job at McDonalds which pays, say 12 bucks an hour. Multiply 0.14 by 12 and you find out that for every hour you spend at work, you get 1.7 hours of Avengers. Awesome!

The underlying assumption here is that your cemployer values your time the same way you doe and that, in fact, you consider comparing the time you worked to be a valid measure of value ("Is x worth y hours at work?") If you really really loved your job, or were paid a salary instead of a wage, this wouldn't really be a useful comparison. The initial part, though, comparing 'bang for your buck' of various pastimes, is applicable pretty much everywhere. Which is not to say that you should automatically choose the best value for money. It's the quality of the time, as well as the quantity, which matters. I still think it's a useful tool to have when weighing up alternatives for entertainment.

That is, assuming you have alternatives for entertainment, and don't spend your spare time writing about maths on the internet.

< This is not an intervention. Rubik's Cubes and YouTubes >