The value of inconvenience

I am watching this talk by Clay Shirky in which, among other things, he points out that inconvenience can have value, an idea I have been talking about for over ten years now, the differences being I talk about the evils of efficiency, and no one pays me to do it.

Who would think that efficiency could be bad, or inconvenience good? Yet, this is how all security measures (among other things) function, by increasing inconvenience, slowing things down, reducing efficiency. Locks, fences, passwords, democracy, brakes, parachutes.

Just ask Wall St. what happens when things get too convenient.

Brilliant, right? Up there with my solar slot car idea, and solar roofs. And stuff.

Another old idea I’ve been thinking about this week is my formula for the Chaos Coefficient: C=(f+p)f

There’s an online calculator on my old blog, up at the top. I just tried it out, it still works. With four people in my household, and two cats and a turtle, my chaos coefficient is 2401. It will increase to 6561 when my wife picks up the two kittens on Wednesday. This means that, roughly, life will become 2.5 times more inconvenient, starting then.

But inconvenient turns out to be good, so that’s okay.

6 responses to “The value of inconvenience

  1. Hmm…. my Chaos Coefficient is 4. (2 humans in household, no pets.)

    Which is good, because I’m mathophobic and large numbers scare me.

    I must say, however, that I feel that the calculator should take into account the age and gender of household members (6 year old boys should get extra chaos points) and non-domestic animals that are likely to wander through (skunks, possums, raccoons, mice, spiders the size of chihuahuas, etc.). Also there should be some bonus points awarded for the number of Pokemon cards the six year old boy is likely to leave strewn about (approximately 300 in this case).

    No wonder my life has been kind of sucking lately. I haven’t managed to make it nearly inconvenient enough!

  2. mig

    The Chaos Coefficient is an approximate figure intended to give a rough estimation of relative levels of background chaos, in general. We all have crises, and we all deal with chaos differently. Some people have more difficulty dealing with a CC of 1 than others might with a CC in the millions. What the Coefficient says is, if one has more kids or get more pets, chaos will go up dramatically. It does not calculate for spiders and skunks because they are transitory, and can be experienced equally by most people, in general, so they sort of cancel themselves out.

  3. zeynep

    how about a chaos coefficient for work? I am afraid I spend a lot more time there than at home

  4. my chaos coefficient is a low, low 125. is it broken?

  5. cj

    I am a walking chaos coefficient… and I am good.

  6. kay

    at first i really thought this said:

    “the value of incontinence”