On making your own VI: hedonic philanthropy

On making your own V: The power of technology
On making your own VII: Virtuous Circle

So aside from the fact that it’s fun, intellectually stimulating, a source of erotic satisfaction and self-knowledge, and might help you feel like a Renaissance prince, why should you be busy writing, drawing, pop-culture mining, commissioning artists, and figuring out how to make your computer render tube girls?

Do you really need more reasons?

Well, maybe you don’t, but nonetheless there are, and they’re good.  In addition, these reasons help explain why you might not just want to be a creator for yourself (writing for the drawer or enjoying your art in private), but a publisher of your results, just like I and so many others are.   So I can’t help but go into them in the next few posts.

Let’s begin with a few little premises.  Want to do go for other people?  Probably you do.  Is pleasure good?  Really, do I need to ask?

Call something a rough universal hedonic win in people get pleasure out of consuming that something and would therefore be willing to pay for it on that basis, and the aggregate of those payments would exceed the cost of someone’s providing it.  Now from a good utilitarian perspective there are probably some problems with this criterion, since unequal distribution of wealth affects global aggregate willingness to pay in ways that might be undesirable from the point of view of the universe if you believe in such, but since this is a blog post and not a philosophical treatise let’s just run with the concept for now and assume generating rough universal hedonic wins is a good thing on balance.

(This picture ran under the headline “Naked Students Pose for Charity” in the Telegraph.  I kid you not.  Looks like an easy rough hedonic universal win to me!)

Now suppose you’re a weirdo publishing your weird stuff on your weird site.  Are you generating good things?  It seems unlikey, somehow.  My thing is weird, the Internet doesn’t reach everywhere, and even then I’m only one voice among millions.  Perhaps only one in a million people out there would ever see what’s going on here and like it.

But think:  at the moment I am writing this blog post, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the population of the world at about 6.87 billion people.  So even if I only reach one in a million people out there, I’ve brightened up the day a little for 6,870 people somewhere every time I publish something.

Now maybe creation isn’t necessarily cheap, although sometimes it is.  (Although publication in the world today is ultra cheap:  the hosting I have for Erotic Mad Science costs on the order of pennies per day.)  Maybe a given piece of writing or a given picture costs me something, let’s be unrealistically high and estimate a thousand dollars, either in costs out of pocket or the cost of time used in its creation.  Well, suppose we divide $1000/6,870 people and we get…

…just under 15¢ per person.  So it looks like I’m getting a rough universal hedonic win if I can reach one person in a million and give them about as much pleasure as they might get out of a miniature candy bar. As doing good goes that might not exactly be a donation to Oxfam, but it still seems like a major fringe benefit of my activities here.  And note that the population estimate that goes into the denominator of my little back-of-the-envelope calculation includes only the people who now exist.  But art endures, and (mostly likely) there will be many more people in the future, some of whom will in turn be able to enjoy (or mine!) what you’ve created.  Thus you get an even bigger rough universal hedonic win!

So get out there, reader!  Make some porn and benefit humanity!