July 1, 2012

Value of Information Project

Value of Information: The amount of time/money/happiness that one is potentially leaving on the table by not seeking out additional information. For a common-sense example of this idea, you might be leaving quite a bit of money on the table if you don't ever spare a thought to figuring out what's on sale at the grocery store or if the store down the street might be cheaper in general. However, the value of seeking out extra information has a limit--you would spend more in gas money and waste a lot of time driving around town trying to find the DEFINITIVELY BEST deal. The idea of a VOI calculation is to figure out approximately where the line between too much and too little attention to optimization opportunities.

And I kind of suck at doing these calculations, especially on the spot.

I'm sure I'm not the only one. So I'm going to practice them. And then I'm going to see if there is any way that I can automate a good chunk of the process. I'd like to make a simple chart on a card that's about business-card size, much like one might make a tip chart to avoid having to do math, that would at least partially simplify the process. If that doesn't work, I'd like to build a mobile app that will let you set a few basic parameters to figure the same thing. Not something I can personally benefit from, as I don't have a smart phone, but it would be cool and useful and great for a starting portfolio.

((Looking at this, I just realized that I skipped the intended option of pawning a VOI assistance app coding project to someone with actual programming experience. I do still want the idea to help someone if it can. And that the 3 hours figure has no basis other than, "I'm guessing if I take any longer than this throwing a prototype together, it's probably going to take 3 whole months for me to muddle my way through." Also, I forgot to add the part where I write down and then deliberately ignore any really cool ideas that come up partway through the process. Mid-operation attempts at optimization tends to derail my entire endeavor. Oh well, it's still a cool chart. Another interesting Alternate project would be the Hope Function.))

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