Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Prioritization Process

My reply to David Eil's reply...

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If Medium gives subscribers the option to spend their fees on the most relevant stories, and each month you spend on average $4 dollars on economics stories and $1 dollar on cat stories, then it would be reasonably to conclude that, in your little corner of the world, economics stories are more relevant than cat stories. If on average I spend $4 dollars on economics stories and $1 dollar on epiphyte stories, then it would be reasonably to conclude that, in my little corner of the world, economics stories are more relevant than epiphyte stories.

Thanks to our spending decisions, you and I would be far better informed about what’s more or less relevant in each other’s little corner of the world. Except, all the subscribers would be using their fees to signal which types of stories are more or less relevant in their little corners of the world. So we’d all be far better informed what’s more or less relevant in all our little corners of the world. Knowing the actual value of stories would help everybody make far better informed reading and writing decisions.

When everybody makes far better informed reading and writing decisions, then this will quickly and vastly improve the variety and quality of choices on the menu. The choices on the menu would be far more relevant to all our different realities. As a result, we’d all be as happy as a kid in a candy store.

Here’s Samuelson’s passage again…

But, and this is the point sensed by Wicksell but perhaps not fully appreciated by Lindahl, now it is in the selfish interest of each person to give false signals, to pretend to have less interest in a given collective consumption activity than he really has, etc. — Paul Samuelson, The Pure Theory of Public Expenditure

Yeah, this is about economics. But it is also about communication… and the problem with transmitting inaccurate information. It’s about the problem with fake news. If the amount of money that we spend on economics stories inaccurately communicates our demand for them, then of course the supply of economics stories will be suboptimal. For sure we’d prefer it if the supply of economics stories was optimal, therefore our communication should be accurate.

Just like with Medium, Netflix does not give subscribers the option to spend their fees on the most relevant content. Subscribers are not given the opportunity to substantially participate in the prioritization process. I don’t have the opportunity to use my fees to accurately communicate just how relevant economics shows are. As far as I know, there’s only one economics show on Netflix and it’s tragically terrible. Needless to say, I’m really not as happy as a kid in a candy store.

You can’t prevent everybody from substantially participating in the prioritization process and expect the supply of products to accurately reflect everybody’s priorities.

First we prioritize how we spend our limited money and then, and only then, will the supply of products accurately reflect our priorities.

I’m interested in knowing what your priorities are. You should be interested in knowing what my priorities are. We should all be interested in knowing what each other’s priorities are. We should all be interested in having the most accurate treasure maps.

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