# Curiosity: Should We Poke The Cube?

November 11, 2012 1:51 pmWe had tried writing this in a slightly different tone, but that did not appeal to many. So here is another attempt.

Understanding the relative scale of things is always important. When it is about time, it is critical. There is a new game in town. Well some of us are old timers there already. But the world is catching up. And it is named right as well – ‘Curiosity – what’s inside the cube’ – “In fact, half a million players so far have registered to help destroy the 64 billion tiny blocks that compose that one gigantic cube, all working in tandem toward a singular goal: discovering the secret that Curiosity‘s creator says awaits one lucky player inside. That’s right: After millions of man-hours of work, only one player will ever see the center of the cube.” (Source: Wired).

As you prepare to destroy your thousands of blocks – here is something for you to think about.

We had spotted some interesting (actually disturbing) stats on Angry Birds before – the summary is this –

“If everyone playing Angry Bird starts working on putting together some knowledge about the world, they can create a complete wikipedia in 30 days. Yes, thats right. The COMPLETE WIKIPEDIA in 30 days.”

Please stop, and think about that for a minute. The ENTIRE WIKIPEDIA, in 30 days! (Here is the rough logic we used: The total number of hours consumed by Angry Birds players world-wide is roughly 200 million minutes a DAY, which translates into 1.2 billion hours a year. To compare, all person-hours spent creating and updating Wikipedia totals about 100 million hours over the entire life span of Wikipedia (Neiman Journalism Lab).)

The bigger point, of course, is that these ‘millions of minutes’ add up pretty fast. Yes, you are doing it when you are waiting in a queue. But a minute is a minute.

And now, back to poking the cube. Let us do some back of the envelope math:

Half a million folks have downloaded it so far (it is yet to hit mainstream) – with a reasonable assumption (of the kind that VCs do not like) – that this game becomes even one-tenth as popular as Angry Birds – we are talking about a total of 100 million downloads (Angry Bird crossed the 1 billion download mark ages ago). Huge numbers!

Let us also assume an involvement that is 50 percent of Angry Birds (10 minutes per user per day on an average) – that would be 5 minutes – and a daily active user base of 10 million (one in ten downloads assumed as active daily) – we are upto an estimated 50 million minutes a day – so the 100 million hours required for creating wikipedia – that would be 120 days!

Should we poke the cube?

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This experiment seems to be something like a massively-multiplayer Skinner box, the players are rats pressing buttons for their chimes and coins until they achieve inevitable disappointment, “Look how much time I’ve wasted touching the screen of my phone!”

As it is with these sorts of games, lotteries, etc., the winning move is not to play.