You and Your Number: Story Notes from a Dream

There is a statistical tool that continually measures the social value of everything all the time, normalized on the same scale of 0 to 100. It’s a stately progression of regression to the mean by nature, and includes everything – not just individuals but products, corporations, governments, agencies, programs, art works (movies, books, songs, etc …), anything and everything that can be ranked. It becomes the focal point of everyone’s life as well as the meaning of life, art and business. There are machines on the street, like ATMs, where you can find out your current ranking at any time, as well as the ranking of anything else. There are long lines at these kiosks all the time.

It was originally intended as an analytics program to track historical trends over time but somehow leaked out into the public sphere and conquered the world.

Popular celebrities might be rated 35.1, 35.0, 34.9 as they trend over time …

Most people are less than a 10.

In the dream that provided this idea, a big smoky fire in a building put a sudden end to many people, and their rankings along with them, in a sort of punctuated equilibrium of social status. They more or less trend to zero after death. This is true for everything. In this world there is no room for nostalgia. Nothing lasts. Nothing is remembered.

Nobody knows how the ranking is calculated – well, somebody knows. A man named Peter knows. He invented it when he worked for the AllDat Corporation, international legal and sole owners of all of the world’s information. The factors that go in to the rankings might be anything. There is a lot of general anxiety, a lot at stake all the time. People are desperate to game the system, improve their rankings, but it’s anyone’s guess how it works. Many have tried and many have believed they have found the secret, but no one really has. Some believe the whole thing is rigged, it’s randomized, nothing but a test program being contiuously fed with false, synthetic data. Others believe there are religious factors – are you doing good, are you helping others, are you following the rules, are you properly aligned with the universe. Businesses, artists, politicians, everyone is scrambling to tweak their ranking.

(I’m afraid this sounds like a fairly typical YA Dystopia of the kind currently littering every bookstore and ebook site. If I were to write it, there would have to be be a drastic element of farce at the core, the more ridiculous the better)

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3 thoughts on “You and Your Number: Story Notes from a Dream

    • That’s an interesting angle – of course there would be rebels, outsiders, unbelievers as well as conformists, fundamentalists etc … definitely something to think about. I came across a recent TV show called “Review” (on Comedy Central here – bits are on YouTube) about a guy who reviews “experiences” (what’s it like to be a drug addict, what’s it like to get divorced) and manages to ruin his life in the process. It sounded like a different approach to the same rampant rating disease going on these days. On the plus side, shares of Yelp fell 75%

      Liked by 1 person

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