Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The new magic number

Miller's famous study on the ubiquity of 7 in short term memory aside, I have my own candidate for a magic number:

1/√ 2

The decimal equivalent is approximately .707, which is a kind of cool looking number (it's approximate because the square root of 2 is irrational, another cool aspect). But its real significance is that if you square it you get 0.5 or ½.

OK, why the math today? I'm trying to figure out how to cut my work in half. Why? Because if I get laid off I will hire myself out as a documentation consultant with my specialty being that I can reduce documentation by half. Hey, in a bad economy, sell hamburger and beer.

So here's my radical (pun intended for my mathy geek friends) approach:
  1. Look across the breadth of what's being produced and reduce it by 30%. A 30% reduction is not that hard to find.
  2. Look at the depth of what's left and reduce it by 30%.
The net result is that you're left with half of what you started with (actually a little less because of rounding).

Gotta run and get a copyright or a patent or something on this.


Tony Self said...

This reminds me of some advice on how to pack for travelling. First, lay out on the bed the absolute bare minimum of what you need to pack. Then, pack half of that into the suitcase.

Michael Hughes said...

Good advice, Tony. A backpacker friend gave me this advice: "Your gear is your fear." Look at what you're overpacking and ask yourself what has you scared? This is a great metaphor for life as well. For example, I pack a lot of degrees and letters after my name--Am I so afraid that people will think I'm stupid?