November 3rd, 2005
When my brother needs to get in touch, he likes to call rather than email because it takes him a long time to type (he is, in his own words, a “left-sided hemiplegic stroke surviving mother*******”). I, on the other hand, generally prefer him to email because I can reply to emails whenever I’ve got the time, rather than being interrupted, losing my train-of-thought, etc.
So what should he do? Write or call?
To objectively decide, I propose what I’m calling the ‘time-preciousness index’ (tpi).
Here’s how it works:
Sy’s free time constitutes, more or less, 100% of his total wakeful hours (tpi 100). I have about 3 hours to myself out of 16.5, or roughly 18% of my total wakeful hours (tpi 18). By this reckoning, I calculate my time as 100/18, or roughly 5 times as precious as Sy’s. Our relative tpi (tpiR) is 5.55.
Accordingly, the question of whether he should call or email can easily be decided by asking if the time he would take to email would be more than 5.55 times the time it would take for him to call. If so, the call is the most efficient way for communication to pass between us, and I’ll gladly be interrupted.
On the other hand, if a call would take less than 5(.55) times the time it takes him to email, he should make the effort to type, and shoulder the inconvenience burden himself. Simple.
Polite society works on the general basis that your tpi is less than the person you’re trying to communicate with. I propose a more efficient system whereby we would all publish our tpi’s, in, say, our email signiatures, or by having them tatooed on our left eyelids. In this case we could all easily exchange tpi’s by winking (although this would lead to some misunderstandings initially), and could then freely communicate knowing we were doing so in the most mutually efficient way possible.