Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Google, Pac-Man, and productivity

Last Friday, May 21st was Pac-Man's 30th birthday. Google turned its homepage into a playable Pac-Man game for two days. We all took breaks to enjoy the fun and then told our friends to do the same. Recently, RescueTime, a company that develops time management software, has gathered statistics and analyzed the impact of this first ever interactive Google doodle. Here's the math:

- Google Pac-Man consumed 4,819,352 hours of time (beyond the 33.6m daily man hours of attention that Google Search gets in a given day).
- $120,483,800 is the dollar tally, If the average Google user has a COST of $25/hr (note that cost is 1.3 – 2.0 x pay rate).
- For that same cost, you could hire all 19,835 Google employees, from Larry and Sergey down to their janitors, and get 6 weeks of their time. Imagine what you could build with that army of man power.
- $298,803,988 is the dollar tally if all of the Pac-Man players had an approximate cost of the average Google employee.

I am not sure about the money count, but the estimated 4,819,352 hours is a long time. It's almost 550 years! But does that mean our productivity is gobbled? I'm not convinced. First of all, when you add up to a total number, it always looks more stunning. According to RescueTime's data, the average user only spent 36 seconds more on last Friday. That's just 1/800 of a typical 8-hr work day! Second, these 36 seconds were not taken away from a 100% productive base. If there's no Pac-Man on Google, people would still spend time reading news or going on facebook anyways. Third, we are not machines. Breaks help to recharge our brains. RescueTime founder Tony Wright himself agrees that "Leisure surfing is critical to productivity." A study actually showed that personal use of internet at work would increase productivity by 9%.

So OK, sit back, relax, and let the fun continue! (In fact, Google did let it continue. Pac-Man is here forever!)

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