Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Three Exchangable Comodities

In my world view, soon surely to be yours too, there are generally speaking three exchangable comodities that any human may possess. These can be used in some combination to achieve nearly anything you might choose to do.
  1. Time
  2. Money
  3. Experience / Knowledge
These must be considered in the context of a specific task. For that task then a person has a pool of each resource and a lack in one can be compensated for by an abundance in another.


Given enough time a person can do anything. The sad thing being that many tasks require so much time that no one person can supply it. For example, say I want to build a house: With enough time I could build the mud bricks I'd need, then lay them (having designed the house) then make tiles / shingles and so on and so forth. This is of course how they did it many years ago, possibly as early as 1982, though I'm not sure humans had discovered shelter yet...

Ah, money. Many people really don't understand what money is, but this three comodity model is reasonably good at demonstrating it. Money is an abstract representation of applicable resource. It is a way of trading your experience and time for someone else's experience and time. In the above example it would take me many long hours (lifetimes?) to build a house. However I am quite skilled at developing software solutions to business problems. I get paid to use my skill over time so I can use that money to exchange for someone else's skill and time to build my house. Lovely. That really is what money is about. How else can I trade my knowledge with a builder? What use has a brick layer for a multi-user distributed database application? Well arguments could be made, but it general they would prefer $$$, though beer is a close second.

Experience / Knowledge:
The final piece of the puzzle. If you have plenty of experience doing something, generally speaking the less time you need to do it. If you can do it you don't need to pay someone else to do it. To do a basic service of my car takes me a good 3-4 hours. That's changing oil, filters, plugs and checking brakes etc... A good mechanic can probably do it in 1 hour (maybe less? heck I'm not even experienced enough to know.)

So time, money and experience are exchangable. Or at least that is how I look at most problems I run into. I use this theory to help evaluate various decisions I have to make.

Service my car:
  1. Time: 3-4 hours
  2. Money: $100
  3. Experience: not much.
If I want to spend less money I'd need either enough time to develope and build my own oil filter or lubricant or I'd need enough experience and knowledge to find good cheaper substitutes.
To reduce time I could pay a mechanic or just know how to do everything without need to constantly look up my books.
To reduce my experience required I could pay a mechanic or spend longer learning everything.

I guess you get the picture.

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