Inflationary Medium Conjecture

Assume a social system where a population P of individuals desires to access information I using medium M. P spends time T on the medium to access the information, then spending J time enjoying the information itself. 

We can define the ratio R(M)=T/J as the time spent in accessing the information divided by the time spent enjoying the information . The smaller R — the closer to zero — the more efficient the social system is.

The inflationary medium conjecture states that any effort to improve the Medium M geared towards reducing to time spent accessing the information will end up in a new ratio related to the new medium R1(M1)=R1/J1 that is equal on larger than R, i.e. R1>R. In other words, the new social system will be more inefficient, and the medium will end up absorbing more energy overall. 

Examples:

  1. As Twitter grows old, one spends more time scrolling down tweets — and checking one’s followers — than reading the tweets themselves; nowadays people barely register other people’s tweets.

  2. As the smartphone camera becomes ubiquitous, people take lots of photos and invests lots of energy editing them, but nobody watches them, including themselves.

  3. With Uber you can go anywhere but you end up going nowhere and having food delivered home by Uber itself. Uber ends up reducing the time you spend outside.