May 14th, 2003


How Long?

Andy Warhol once said, "The day will come when everyone will be famous for 15 minutes."

Using the combined power of boredom and Excel, and assuming that in the future everyone will have a journal to be looked at and pertty much everyone will be famous because of their witty, erudite warblings on the nature of life, the universe and fame I've worked out precisely how long people will actually be famous for...

Let's say the average person lives 80 years, which works out to 2524608000 seconds. Now, assuming that there are 6 billion people and that that doesn't change (because otherwise the maths will make my head hurt) - if everyone spends their whole life looking at other people's journals (a reasonable summary of my life)and fame is when ordinary people take an interest in your life for no good reason, then the average person will look at your journal for 0.42 seconds.

So, in the future you will all be famous for 0.4 seconds. I hope you have something witty to say that doesn't take any longer than that to say.

Of course, the above assumes that all 6 billion people on the planet need to find you interesting in order for you to be famous. If we assume that, for example, only 30% of the population of the UK needs to find you fascinating for you to be famous then that's a mere 20 million people.

2,524,608,000/20,000,000 = 126, or over 2 minutes of time!

A more general theory would seem to be: Time=2,524,608,000/(population of country*(percentage of people that know you/100).

So that, for instance to be ultra-famous in Luxembourg would give you 5 minutes of fame (in Luxembourg), while you could achieve a similar length of fame in the US if you were to consider yourself famous when only 3.7% of the population was paying you any attention.

As a final calculation, being famous for 15 minutes would mean that a mere 2,805,118 people were paying you attention. Hardly worth the effort.