Monday, February 07, 2011


I watch Stephen Colbert most nights. His jokes can land knock out punches and reach people in a way that Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity and their po-faced pundits could only dream of.

Satire is about analogy, it's about putting serious issues next to whacky larger than life characters who drive their points home in a garish hilarious way. Sneaking important messages into jokes - like mystic messages in flamboyant fortune cookies.

Economics and finance often use analogies. Maths models are stories about real life but with fewer jokes.

I wonder whether we could put an algebra model under a game of Tetris, so that while fitting blocks together kids are solving equations; perhaps embed stock dynamic models into how space invaders fly at you; maybe Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 could have a macro economic model underpinning it, so that volleying a ball would be like minimising inflation while maximising employment.

Obviously, you would have to pick your model and game mechanics wisely - otherwise you could have soccer balls looping round and round rather than having realistic ball goes up then comes down physics.

I love the idea that people playing Angry Birds might be sucked into intuitively understanding something completely serious and kind of useful.

Then again, you have to ask the question, even if you understand how to hit a baseball how much will you understand Newton's law of universal gravitation? Is intuition enough?

Nevertheless it could be a lot of fun!

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