Steve Clayton has a nice post out – Zero-Sum Game – that links to an older post of his – Orders of Magnitude.
Orders of Magnitude = a scale to describe differences between numbers. 10 being the most common scale to use. I sold 1 apple last week, this week I sold 10 – I increased sales by an order of magnitude of 1. Orders of magnitude are normally used for very large numbers where you don’t need to worry about the ‘loose change’.
Zero-Sum Game = for every gain there is an equal cost. If there is room for 10 apples in the box, one has to be taken out before you can add another.
It’s always nice to be reminded of definitions. Sometimes we can get a bit too colourful (in the polite sense) with our use of language to describe situations. (‘Super super excited about the orders of magnitude we will achieve in selling product X next year’ for example, when the actual prediction is a 20% increase.)
Steve’s post reminded me of a write-up in a newspaper last year, talking about the upcoming finale of Dr Who. The comment went along the lines: ¨At least, by the end of the programme, viewers will understand what the word ‘decimate’ really means.¨ (The baddie – The Master – orders his robots to remove one-tenth of the population).