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Information Valuation - The Most Buck for the Bits?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the inflation-ain't-got-nothing-on-this dept.

The Almighty Buck 506

Rational asks: "I've heard of Everquest accounts sold for upwards of a thousand dollars... Considering that what is actually for sale is just an username and password, which generally comes up to less than 20 bytes in total, this amounts to over $50 per byte. What are the most expensive pieces of information that you have heard of, in dollars per byte? Perhaps satellite pictures? The Human genome?"

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Goat Sex (5, Funny)

T3kno (51315) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675863)

Judging from the number of time's I've been suckered into looking at it, and that someone somewhere is paying for each of those views, I'll bet that the aggregate cost for Goat Sex is in the trillions.

Re:Goat Sex (1)

queequeg1 (180099) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676034)

Let's add to this cost the inevitable result of after employees/spouse/etc have been unable to explain why this site was accessed ("No really, I didn't know!"). Downtime searching for a new job, alcoholism after wife kicks you out of house, etc.

Credit Card Numbers (3, Insightful)

elphkotm (574063) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675864)

People with credit card limits in excess of several million dollars, their number sequence and expiration date can be stored in just a few bytes (8 bytes at the most).

Re:Credit Card Numbers (1, Funny)

YourFavoriteBandSux (574395) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675916)

Can individuals actually *get* a credit limit in the millions of dollars? Who are these people? I guess my *real* question is, who's impulse-buying million-dollar ticket items?

Re:Credit Card Numbers (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675957)

Some American Express cards have no credit limit, purchases are approved based on your credit history. Ellison carries their centurian card, and I would guess that if he were to make a million dollar purchase, it would be approved.

Re:Credit Card Numbers (1)

mph (7675) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675991)

Who says credit cards are only for impulse purchases? I've heard of people buying expensive works of art on their plastic, collecting the airline miles, and (presumably) paying off the balance.

Re:Credit Card Numbers (2)

BWJones (18351) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676028)

I can't speak to million $$ limits, but the AmEx card I carry does not really have limits per se. I have purchased cars and a house with it and have never really had a problem.

Re:Credit Card Numbers (2, Interesting)

caspper69 (548511) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676063)

The guy who used to run SunTrust (and donated several millions of dollars to the business school at Michigan State), Eli Broad, once spent 2.5 Million dollars on paintings at an auction. All charged to his American Express.

Data (2, Insightful)

hayek (192772) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675869)

The problem with your comment is in the assumption that the only thing being sold is a username and password. Obviously the buyer thought they were buying something a little more substantive.

Re:Data (2, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675908)

Not exactly.... The buyer is generally interested in purchasing an EQ account for more than just the username/password, they usually want what that username/password grant access to. They're interested in the high-level character, or phat lewts, or whatever else may come along with the username/password. However, the key to those other items is the username/password. The only thing that is transmitted, transferred, or sold to another person is the username/password, which they then use to access the rest of the goodies. The same is true of a bank account number, or credit card number - those things in and of themselves are completely valueless, simply alphanumeric strings - but what they represent and grant access to makes them valuable.


ip ban (-1, Offtopic)

cerskine (202611) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675873)

This is my first post since I was IP banned. I had trolled a few times but I still seemed to be posting at +1 for ages. I would be proud to have the automatic -1 status bestowed upon me - this would get my posts out of the bland midzone of the sorted list. If this post comes in at -1 then I will feel that I have crossed a chasm and arrived at a new world of slashdot posting.

Least valuable (1)

phunhippy (86447) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675876)

WEll Hell on the other end of the scale...

I can't even give away the naked group photo of the slashdot editors...

I think it costs me money instead of being valuable.. each time I: mv slasheditorsnaked.jpg to a different folder, i can never copy anything there again...

Re:Least valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3675901)

I can't even give away the naked group photo of the slashdot editors...

Fool! You are sitting on gold there! Just threaten to email it to someone and you'll have more money than you can count!!

Re:Least valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3675917)

That was the weirdest unsuccessful attempt at humor I've seen in a while.

Re:Least valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3676001)

You, Your humor, and your photos all suck.

Please refrain from breathing and further polluting the gene pool with stupidity.

Shareware registration keys (0, Redundant)

Captoo (103399) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675882)

Shareware registration keys can be pretty expensive, especially if you buy a 1000 license key.

Re:Shareware registration keys (1)

skelley (526008) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675920)

Forget shareware.

What about the license key for a big WebLogic install ? Now that the some serious 6 figure money for a few lousy digits !

Stupid Question (1, Offtopic)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675883)

You're not paying for the login, you're also paying for the character files which are how big? The login could be changed and you would get the same results, but if you change the character files around you will most definately not get the same results.

Continue with the inevitable "I paid big bucks for some antiquted OS/Software back in the day!"

No, you don't get the character file. (2, Insightful)

phriedom (561200) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676061)

The entire premise of the post is that you DONT own the character file. That is the property of the software company. All you buy is the info to access. That is why this is different than any real property, like a house.

Business.com domain name (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3675884)

Subject says it all really. What was it in the end, $5 million, $10 million?

The most value has got to be in passwords... (3, Insightful)

Sun Tzu (41522) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675886)

Imagine the price for byte of an eight-character password that lets you change your grades, retroactively, to all 'A's. Satellite pictures and Human genome are lots of bytes.

Re:The most value has got to be in passwords... (2)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675963)

Or better yet the root password to stock exchange machines... or to Social Security machines (to steal identities)... or to Telco machines (to intercept the above, plus credit card #'s)... or to CVS repositories...

Re:The most value has got to be in passwords... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3676002)

thats cool and all, but what about *legal* information?

Re:The most value has got to be in passwords... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3675982)

Is there a similar password which lets me change a few of my 'A's to 'B's, in exchange for getting laid more often?

Dont know whether I would put a price to it (2, Funny)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675887)

But I bet I would kill to get my hands on a real official version of a playable DOOM III demo.

Karmack ?! Why are you wasting your time reading my post ???!!!

Selling accounts (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3675888)

Karma: 50, two of them. Bids, anyone?

Umm... (2)

mdemeny (35326) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675890)

Okay, technically speaking it's just the username and password, but in actuality the player data might take up a few K on the EQ server, right? So if we're doing a byte-to-byte comparison this should be taken into account... otherwise I figure the most expensive data would be for illegal betting/stock tips - where you may pay hundreds of dollars for a 3-letter ticker code, right?

So are we talking about data, or short-form representations of it?

Re:Umm... (2)

Mittermeyer (195358) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675949)

To me the value of the password is predicated on the value of what I am gaining access to, and all the bytes therein. So really you would have to include the per-byte cost of the entire EverQuest environment and all players, without which the kickass character being auctioned off has no value.

So the per-byte cost is probably not very good in this case.

The real per-byte value would probably be some online email/data to get at a meatworld commodity- insider stock information or location of drug stashes would be good examples.

Slashdot accounts (2)

seizer (16950) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675891)

I am willing to sell this fine, low UID slashdot account for only $10000 (or about $500 per byte stored on the server). If that isn't a bargain, I don't know what is :-)

Re:Slashdot accounts (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675994)

I'll sell this low UID for $5000 US.

Come on, Daddy wants a new G4 Tower and an iBook!

Re:Slashdot accounts (1)

joshuac (53492) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676003)

I am willing to sell this fine, low UID slashdot account for only $10000 (or about $500 per byte stored on the server). If that isn't a bargain, I don't know what is :-)

20 bytes to store an integer? Someone want to look at the source for slash and say if this is so? :)

Re:Slashdot accounts (0, Offtopic)

unicron (20286) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676008)

I once wondered who has the lowest UID's on here, like 1-100. I'm assuming 1-10 are the original moderators, but who was the first TRUE, public, just-wandered-in, registered user?

The Meaning Of It All (1)

lewiz (33370) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675896)

If you could sell ``42'' I reckon you would get a hell of a lot for it - and that's, what, a byte? :)

refine question (1)

skelley (526008) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675900)

Are you asking about something actually for sale (like the Everquest account) or the presumed value of something not really "for sale" (like the Human Genome information or my CC number) ?

Slightly misleading calculation (2)

gwernol (167574) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675903)

Considering that what is actually for sale is just an username and password, which generally comes up to less than 20 bytes in total, this amounts to over $50 per byte

Of course that's not what is for sale. What is sold is the information stored on the EQ servers that defines the character. The username/password are just what let you get at the character data. When I bought my house the transaction resulted in a key, but I can assure you that's not what I paid more than half a million dollars for...

This doesn't negate the basic point though. I don't know how much space an EQ character takes up, but it will still probably result in a fairly impressive dollar/byte sum.

Re:Slightly misleading calculation (2, Funny)

gwydi0n (235662) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675995)

When I bought my house the transaction resulted in a key, but I can assure you that's not what I paid more than half a million dollars for...

You paid $500,000+ for an Everquest House?!? Damn - I hope you got one that's at least over 1MB and has "pets" in the basement :P


Maybe... (3, Funny)

Zen Mastuh (456254) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675906)

The name of GWBs coke dealer from the 70's [or whenever he did it]. I bet he would pay a lot of money to suppress that info.

Information wants to be expensive (2)

Spock the Vulcan (196989) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675907)

Comment from Stewart Brand, the guy the "Information wants to be free" [anu.edu.au] quote is attributed to: On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.

Re:Information wants to be expensive..."bah" (0)

Troll on ice (569367) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676014)

information wants to be free has got to be one of the least thought out mantras of slashdot,information doesn't want anything...it just is.it should be people want information to be free. it makes just about as much sense as kill your television

NSA Crypto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3675922)

How much did the USSR/Russia/other governments pay to get ahold of our crypto material? Even assuming spies are bought for cheap, that's still a lot of $$ per bit.

Assume $10,000 per key, of (say) 256 bits (its military crypto after all).

That's about $39/bit

And we are all still Paying! :) (0, Offtopic)

Real World Stuff (561780) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675924)

Bill Gates [vt.edu] Before Microsoft

Family and Early Childhood
On October 28, 1955, shortly after 9:00 p.m., William Henry Gates III was born. He was born into a family with a rich history in business, politics, and community service. His great-grandfather had been a state legislator and mayor, his grandfather was the vice president of a national bank, and his father was a prominent lawyer. [Wallace, 1992, p. 8-9] Early on in life, it was apparent that Bill Gates inherited the ambition, intelligence, and competitive spirit that had helped his progenitors rise to the top in their chosen professions. In elementary school he quickly surpassed all of his peer's abilities in nearly all subjects, especially math and science. His parents recognized his intelligence and decided to enroll him in Lakeside, a private school known for its intense academic environment. This decision had far reaching effects on Bill Gates's life. For at Lakeside, Bill Gates was first introduced to computers.

First computing Experience
In the Spring of 1968, the Lakeside prep school decided that it should acquaint the student body with the world of computers [Teamgates.com, 9/29/96]. Computers were still too large and costly for the school to purchase its own. Instead, the school had a fund raiser and bought computer time on a DEC PDP-10 owned by General Electric. A few thousand dollars were raised which the school figured would buy more than enough time to last into the next school year. However, Lakeside had drastically underestimated the allure this machine would have for a hand full of young students.

Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and a few other Lakeside students (many of whom were the first programmers hired at Microsoft) immediately became inseparable from the computer. They would stay in the computer room all day and night, writing programs, reading computer literature and anything else they could to learn about computing. Soon Gates and the others started running into problems with the faculty. Their homework was being turned in late (if at all), they were skipping classes to be in the computer room and worst of all, they had used up all of the schools computer time in just a few weeks. [Wallace, 1992, p. 24]

In the fall of 1968, Computer Center Corporation opened for business in Seattle. It was offering computing time at good rates, and one of the chief programmers working for the corporation had a child attending Lakeside. A deal was struck between Lakeside Prep School and the Computer Center Corporation that allowed the school to continue providing it's students with computer time. [Wallace, 1992, p. 27] Gates and his comrades immediately began exploring the contents of this new machine. It was not long before the young hackers started causing problems. They caused the system to crash several times and broke the computers security system. They even altered the files that recorded the amount of computer time they were using. They were caught and the Computer Center Corporation banned them from the system for several weeks.

Bill Gates, Paul Allen and, two other hackers from Lakeside formed the Lakeside Programmers Group in late 1968. They were determined to find a way to apply their computer skills in the real world. The first opportunity to do this was a direct result of their mischievous activity with the school's computer time. The Computer Center Corporation's business was beginning to suffer due to the systems weak security and the frequency that it crashed. Impressed with Gates and the other Lakeside computer addicts' previous assaults on their computer, the Computer Center Corporation decided to hire the students to find bugs and expose weaknesses in the computer system. In return for the Lakeside Programming Group's help, the Computer Center Corporation would give them unlimited computer time [Wallace, 1992, p. 27]. The boys could not refuse. Gates is quoted as saying "It was when we got free time at C-cubed (Computer Center Corporation) that we really got into computers. I mean, then I became hardcore. It was day and night" [Wallace, 1992, p. 30]. Although the group was hired just to find bugs, they also read any computer related material that the day shift had left behind. The young hackers would even pick employees for new information. It was here that Gates and Allen really began to develop the talents that would lead to the formation of Microsoft seven years later.

Roots of Business Career

Computer Center Corporation began to experience financial problems late in 1969. The company finally went out of business in March of 1970. The Lakeside Programmers Group had to find a new way to get computer time. Eventually they found a few computers on the University of Washington's campus where Allen's dad worked. The Lakeside Programmers Group began searching for new chances to apply their computer skills. Their first opportunity came early the next year when Information Sciences Inc. hired them to program a payroll program. Once again the group was given free computer time and for the first time, a source of income. ISI had agreed to give them royalties whenever it made money from any of the groups programs. As a result of the business deal signed with Information Sciences Inc., the group also had to become a legal business [Wallace, 1992, p. 42-43]. Gates and Allen's next project involved starting another company entirely on their own, Traf-O-Data. They produced a small computer which was used to help measure traffic flow. From the project they grossed around $20,000. The Traf-O-Data company lasted until Gates left for college. During Bill Gates' junior year at Lakeside, the administration offered him a job computerizing the school's scheduling system. Gates asked Allen to help with the project. He agreed and the following summer, they wrote the program. In his senior year, Gates and Allen continued looking for opportunities to use their skills and make some money. It was not long until they found this opportunity. The defense contractor TRW was having trouble with a bug infested computer similar to the one at Computer Center Corporation. TRW had learned of the experience the two had working on the Computer Center Corporation's system and offered Gates and Allen jobs. However thing would be different at TRW they would not be finding the bugs they would be in charge of fixing them. "It was at TRW that Gates began to develop as a serious programer," and it was there that Allen and Gates first started talking seriously about forming their own software company [Wallace, 1992, p. 49-51].

In the fall of 1973, Bill Gates left home for Harvard University [Teamgates.com, 9/29/96]. He had no idea what he wanted to study, so he enrolled as prelaw. Gates took the standard freshman courses with the exception of signing up for one of Harvard's toughest math courses. He did well but just as in high school, his heart was not in his studies. After locating the school's computer center, he lost himself in the world of computers once again. Gates would spend many long nights in front of the school's computer and the next days asleep in class. Paul Allen and Gates remained in close contact even with Bill away at school. They would often discuss ideas for future projects and the possibility of one day starting a business. At the end of Gates's first year at Harvard, the two decided that Allen should move closer to him so that they may be able to follow up on some of their ideas. That summer they both got jobs working for Honeywell [Wallace, 1992, p. 59]. As the summer dragged on, Allen began to push Bill harder with the idea that they should open a software company. Gates was still not sure enough to drop out of school. The following year, however, that would all change.

The Birth of Microsoft

In December of 1974, Allen was on his way to visit Gates when along the way he stopped to browse the current magazines. What he saw changed his and Bill Gates's lives forever. On the cover of Popular Electronics was a picture of the Altair 8080 and the headline "World's First Microcomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models." He bought the issue and rushed over to Gates's dorm room. They both recognized this as their big opportunity. The two knew that the home computer market was about to explode and that someone would need to make software for the new machines. Within a few days, Gates had called MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems), the makers of the Altair. He told the company that he and Allen had developed a BASIC that could be used on the Altair [Teamgates.com, 9/29/96]. This was a lie. They had not even written a line of code. They had neither an Altair nor the chip that ran the computer. The MITS company did not know this and was very interested in seeing their BASIC. So, Gates and Allen began working feverishly on the BASIC they had promised. The code for the program was left mostly up to Bill Gates while Paul Allen began working on a way to simulate the Altair with the schools PDP-10. Eight weeks later, the two felt their program was ready. Allen was to fly to MITS and show off their creation. The day after Allen arrived at MITS, it was time to test their BASIC. Entering the program into the company's Altair was the first time Allen had ever touched one. If the Altair simulation he designed or any of Gates's code was faulty, the demonstration would most likely have ended in failure. This was not the case, and the program worked perfectly the first time [Wallace, 1992, p. 80]. MITS arranged a deal with Gates and Allen to buy the rights to their BASIC.[Teamgates.com, 9/29/96] Gates was convinced that the software market had been born. Within a year, Bill Gates had dropped out of Harvard and Microsoft was formed.

That's too simplistic a view. (2)

stienman (51024) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675925)

You aren't paying for bytes, you are paying for time. The time the person selling took to build their character up, for instance. The end product is represented by a series of bytes, and that is what is physically transferred from person to person, but the actual product is not the username/password.

In every other case it's the same. The human genome represents millions of dollars in hardware, research, man hours, etc. Sure, you can fit the resulting data into a nice little package of X bytes, but you aren't paying for the bytes.


You are neither well-formed, nor valid.

The GNU/Stallman diaries. Issue 1. (-1, Offtopic)

GNUStallman (584516) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675926)

The GNU/Stallman diaries. Issue 1.

Hello my good friends and welcome to the GNU/Stallman diaries! I'm your host, GNU/Stallman and I will be keeping you up to date with the wonderful world of Cheap Software.

I managed to do some more work on the GNU/Hurd this week and will give you a run down on my progress in this issue.

After booting my trusty PC I fired up the nice GUI (that's a GNU/User Interface) by typing 'win'. My good friend Eric told me I could add that to the AUTOEXIT DOT BAT file but I told him I didn't like bats, only butterflies. Silly Eric! He can be a real goose sometimes!

Anyway, I decided to focus on security as that seems to be a hot topic these days. What with that Internet thing and all. To secure GNU/Hurd I thought it best to require the user to login with a name and password. This should keep out all the naughty people, like the ones that ruined my other machine at the Cheap Software Foundation!

After about 5 hours of programming and debugging (I hate bugs! Unless their butterflies of course! ROFL!) I had a working login system. In the spirit of Cheap Software I present the source code below. Enjoy!

10 REM GNU/Hurd (c) 1982,1983,1984,1985,1986,1987,
20 REM 1988,1989,1990,1991,1992,1993,1994,1995,1996,
30 REM 1997,1998,1999,2000,2001,2002 Cheap Software Foundation
40 REM
50 PRINT "Login:"
70 IF A$ <> "dick" THEN GOTO 50
80 PRINT "Password:"
70 IF A$ <> "boneflute" THEN GOTO 50
80 END

Well my comrades, that's all the time I have this week! Look out for Issue 2, coming soon!

By that logic I bought an expensive key... (1)

sterno (16320) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675934)

Using that same logic, the key to a house costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. You aren't buying the house, but rather the key to the lock on the house. Or perhaps a better comparison is that of a car (since the locks on a house can be changed or might not exist at all). $20,000 for a little piece of metal? Wow!

Re:By that logic I bought an expensive key... (2, Insightful)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675989)

Well, I posted on the root level that license keys are probably the most expensive byte for byte, because in that case it is different, usually you have the full software installed, for free, and you just need to pay for the license key to use it. Almost all expensive software comes with a demo key before you buy it, but it ships with the full software package, so you can just unlock it once you get it integrated into your workflows.

To extend your analogy, it's like getting the house built on your land with the option to tear it down if you don't want to pay for the keys.

Some information is really worth something (1)

gadfium (318941) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675935)

There's a huge difference between someone who buys a ready-made character in Everquest, and the information gained from a science project, such as the human genome project.

In the first case, there's no benefit to society, just a presumably-enhanced game experience for someone. This is comparable to paying someone to play the game for you to get a character up to levels you might consider interesting.

In the second case, the information is (or should be) free for all to view, but the collecting of it may have been expensive. The people who pay for the science may benefit by having an early knowledge of spinoffs which may be commercially useful, but fundamentally science benefits everyone. For example, the human genome project is likely to have medical benefits for everyone.

License Keys (2, Informative)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675941)

It would have to be license keys. Probably involving SGI.

A license key is a string of maybe 30 bytes usually, and cost up to the millions of dollars.

This is a redundant question ... (1)

LL (20038) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675947)

Because modern financial markets work on derivatives over underlying financial assets. Thus an exerciseable option over insurance loss for a satellite would be valued at a few billion dollars, and can be implemented as a single accept/decline of exercise. Thus the apparant information size is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the contractual obligations and legal infrastructure underpinning that option.

If you want real value, figure out the information cost of accessing the US bootball that controls the nuclear codes. You can literally reduce the world to the Stone age with effectively wiping out probably 1,000 trillion dollars of accumulated human capital and investment.

If you want something closer to home, figure out the cost of the root password to the root servers which will be registring an increasing amount of world commerce. I believe (hearsay) ATT once figured out the business losses stemming from a 1 hour disruption of their network and it wasn't pretty.


Cost to protect (2)

Viking Coder (102287) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675950)

Maybe a better question is how much money has been spent to protect the smallest amount of information? Nuclear launch codes come to mind.

Or to decrypt the smallest amount of information : Enigma.

Or another question is, if someone were able to misuse some numbers, what would be the most damage they could cause? For me, I think it would be my social security number. 9 Digits. They could run up massive debt in my name. Granted, there's legal protection, but still - losing your government-issued identity is probably the worst thing that could happen to an individual, from the standpoint of protecting a small number of bits.

The most expensive number to ever calculate was of course, 42.

Wrong Comparison (2)

stu72 (96650) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675962)

The issue illustrated by the EQ example is not that the user/pass combination is $x/y bits. As many have pointed out, the actual data you gain access to is much more than the bits in the user/pass, *however* the real issue is - what the most valuable data you've ever seen, protected by the least amount of entropy?

My money would be on nuclear launch codes, although I have no idea how long they are, so I could be wrong, but holding life or death for billions in a string of numbers is pretty impressive.

Re:Wrong Comparison (1)

twiztidlojik (522383) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676029)

I don't think anyone who has any inkling on how long the nuclear launch codes could tell us, either, so we'll have to guess. I, personally, think they're around 30-40 digits, but hey, I could be wrong.

Bah (1)

Sesse (5616) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675965)

I've been on dialup, paying by the second, and downloading 0 byte files. Easily becomes the most expensive data you can possibly imagine ;-)

/* Steinar */

Headlines. (5, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675967)

"We win" -- VE Day, 5/8/1945

Calculate the cost of that.

"Hint: don't just count $."

Re:Headlines. (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676019)

Which actually went out on the telegraph as the letter 'V', dit-dit-dit-dah. Morse isn't mixed-case, so it's maybe six bits (26 + 10 + punctuation + in-band signaling like "dahditditdahdit" == between 32 and 64).

I was going to suggest the still pictures of the Trinity test but you've got me beat.

/. quick run down of expesnive info (5, Funny)

bilbobuggins (535860) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675970)

Everquest Account (~20 bytes): $1500

Business.com (~8 bytes): $5,000,000

Natalie Portman's phone number (~9 bytes): priceless

Re:/. quick run down of expesnive info (3, Funny)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676007)

> Natalie Portman's phone number (~9 bytes): priceless

Should that read 'Natalie Portman's Call Screener (~9 bytes): worthless'? ;)

Not the human genome (2)

Otter (3800) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675972)

The Human Genome Project is sometimes reported to have a cost of $3 billion. However, this figure refers to the total projected funding over a 15-year period (1990-2005) for a wide range of scientific activities related to genomics. These include studies of human diseases, experimental organisms (such as bacteria, yeast, worms, flies, and mice); development of new technologies for biological and medical research; computational methods to analyze genomes; and ethical, legal, and social issues related to genetics. Human genome sequencing represents only a small fraction of the overall 15-year budget.

Even if you accept the $3 billion number, that's about $1/base pair. At 4 possiblities per bp, it could be done at $0.50/byte, or comfortably at $1/byte.

Re:Not the human genome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3676051)

Human genome is a much better deal than that. The transcription information and annotations Celera sells is about 1 TB. And it's a bit less than $3B a copy.

Everquest sales are currency arbitrage (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675973)

My cube neighbor and I once did an analysis of Everquest character auctions on E-Bay. Our conclusion was that Everquest currency (I forget what it is) pretty much traded (at that time) for a uniform 4 "whatevers" to the $US. This was amazingly constant. I wanted to start a futures pit in Everquest land, but he explained to me that it couldn't be done (I'm not an EQ'er, so pardon the technical cluelessness.)

Glib reasoning (5, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675974)

> I've heard of Everquest accounts sold for upwards of a thousand dollars... Considering that what is actually for sale is just an username and password, which generally comes up to less than 20 bytes in total, this amounts to over $50 per byte.

Well, the money is being paid (presumably) for the stats and inventory of that user. So saying the 'value per byte' based on the metrics of the key is like saying that paying 1000$ for a key to a safety deposit box with 1000$ in it works out to (1000/metrics-of-key)$

So the real cost-per-byte number for these EQ accounts relates to how many bytes are in a full player record for an EQ account.

Anyhow, I'm sure some company out there has paid in the thousands for a few lines of code.

This does make me think about my 'Guiness Book of World Records That We'll Never Know' book I wish I could have. Whats the furthest a rental cars keys have ever been from its associated car, and is there an interesting story about it? You get the idea ...

DNS Names (1)

ag3n7 (442539) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675976)

Its got to be domain names... millions of dollars for some of them.

A lot smaller (byte wise) than a user id and password.

bank account numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3675987)

for the Sultan of Brunei, Bill Gates etc. Richest people in the world - billion(s) of $ per byte.

enigma (3, Insightful)

debrain (29228) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675990)

Give a man a fish and tomorrow and he will be hungry the day after. Teach a man to fish, and he will subsist. Certainly, algorithms then are the most valuable. Take DeCSS - how many bytes was that down to? Look at it's financial, freedom, and legal implications.

Even more importantly - look at WWII German Enigma codes - the decoding of any one single message was certainly valuable, but understanding how to decode it was invaluable. Like life - power is knowledge, and understanding is inferring knowledge where before there was none (read: understanding creates power).


Go / No-go on a new drug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3675992)

Cost: about 500M USD
Size: 1 bit
Value: either a billion+ in sales per year, or zero.

Hey, it's pretty expensive even if you include a representation of the structure of the compound.

Everquest accounts are more than just two strings. (1)

FATRanger (516532) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675997)

As any EQ player (seller actually, many players are against it, but that's a whole other topic) will tell you they are selling their TIME. It takes many hundred hours to get a character to the point where someone will pay $K+ for it. Taking that argument if you were to pay someone to "develop" your EQ character(s) you would probably pay the same thing. As an EQ account buyer it is more than just a user name and password you are buying, you are paying so that you don't need to waste your time to play the sort of game (high-level, what not) you want. I am sure the argument applies to other forms of valuable information. You are not just paying for a piece of information, but the time it takes to develop/asscertain that information too.

Paying to advance in a game? (0)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 11 years ago | (#3675998)

Anyone who would pay real money just for an everquest charachter is one stupid sucker. I've got a bridge to sell them. When they realize they are losers with no life and get so depressed they want to off themselves they can jump from it.

"The Eagle has Landed" or credi cards? (2)

bons (119581) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676004)

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's phone call was definately not cheap.

On credit card transactions, the actual transaction is what's being purchased. The bank actually purchases the transaction from the merchant. They then sell it to Visa, Who sells it to the Issuing bank who then charges the person's account. It's odd, but that's actually how it works. And since some people buy houses (and corporations buy inventories) with a single credit card transaction, that's a lock of buck for the byte.

The Human genome? - Really doubt it (1)

pornaholic (242268) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676006)

Not unless you count EVERY bit of genetic research ever conducted that led to our ability to map the genome. As a whole, the PCR/Shotgun technique we've used minimizes cost per base, relying on some simple cloning steps, robots to clean up the clones, and some only moderately expensive, Thermo-cyclers and other tools. When you consider the number of bases in our genome (yes, we have to count the junk too), the total bases per dollar (instead of bytes per dollar, because compression makes the storage 1/4 the actual size) couldn't possibly approach cost of byte some series having to do with nuclear weapon launching/disarming/design.

A one bit answer (1)

Crayola (250908) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676009)

Two months salary to get one yes/no answer. DeBeers is the king of costly bandwidth.

What a silly question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3676011)

Why is this worth a post on slashdot? Bored afternoon?

Try swiss bank accounts - I'm sure there's one sufficiently valuable to make all the other suggestions moot.

X-10 (2)

Peridriga (308995) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676021)

My cost as a web programmer
Number of times I've seen the X-10 Ad
approx 70,000 times
Avg Time To Close the window
approx 30 seconds
Total Cost due to X-10
seconds = 70,000 * 30
minutes = seconds(2100000) / 60
hours = minutes(35000) / 60
my cost = hours(583.3) * $120/hr
my cost = $70,000 / 3 letters

cost per letter = $23,3333.33

Brand Naming (3, Interesting)

alphaseven (540122) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676025)

My guess for most bucks for the bit would be in the field of Brand Naming. Companies pay naming firms tens of thousands of dollars to come up with new words like "Lucent", "Pentium" and "Infiniti".

This article, The Name Game [salon.com] cites these firms charging around $75,000 for a single word that may only be seven letters long. Not a logo, not an ad campaign, not even a domain registration, just the single word. I guess this runs roughly around $10,000 per byte.

you're not buying a password. (2)

Punto (100573) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676030)

You're not just buying the password, you are also buying the 'permission' from the guy to use it forever, and his consent to not using it anymore. The password is just the actual tool you use for security.

It's like a server.. You can '0wn' a server by having the root password (or access as root), but you don't actually _own_ it.. The real owner can just pull the plug, and mount the hd somewhere else to change the password.

"EXXON" - $1,250/bit (1)

agravaine (66629) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676033)

I read somewhere that the consultant who came up with the name 'EXXON' [sorry, I forget the name,] was considered the most highly paid author, because he got paid $50,000 for a single word. (Authors, particularly those who write for magazines, typically get paid cents per word, where foo is not a bug number.)

So, assuming the then-standard ASCII notation, $50k/(5*8 bits) = $1,250.00/bit.

Priceless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3676035)

Policical Yard Sign: $3.00 materials + free labor TV add: $50,000 / minute Phone number of Supreme Cout Justices during Florida Appeal: Priceless

the few bytes that make up the dns reccords (1)

mr_exit (216086) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676037)

I imagine that keeping the few bytes in the dns system that make my browser point to hotmail.com or yahoo.com are very valuable to them, I wonder if they have them insured?

Deep Thought (0, Redundant)

joeflies (529536) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676038)

Sure must have cost a lot of money to build the ultimate computer, considered its total output resulted in a two digit number.

Most expensive data ? (2)

Oestergaard (3005) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676040)

The Melissa worm :)

Now thinking about how a proper reference monitor could have been implemented in outlook to completely avoid this worm and all the others, and how these implementations are often just a few hundred lines of code - I vote for the "missing reference monitor" in Outlook to be the most expensive *missing* data out there ;)

(See TCSEC [ncsc.mil] for a description of the reference monitor concept, if you don't know about it)

how much information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3676048)

Actually, the username and password is a key, or a hash value for the real information. In the context of "playing everquest on the web", it can be a short key. However, you can take any amount of information, generate a hash, and if you put it in a specific enough context, you can represent it with just one bit. Therefore, in specific enough contexts, there's no limit of the value of a single bit.

- Shamashmuddamiq

Wolfram's 3-4 Lines of Code (2)

jamesmartinluther (267743) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676049)

I would say that Wolfram's "algorithmic key to the universe" probably will fetch the greatest buck for the bit.

From Steven Levy's recent Wired article [wired.com]:

"I've got to ask you," I say. "How long do you envision this rule of the universe to be?"
"I'm guessing it's really very short."
"Like how long?"
"I don't know. In Mathematica, for example, perhaps three, four lines of code."
"Four lines of code?"
"That's what I'm guessing..."


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3676054)

fuck you!!!!!!

Stupid idea (2)

aralin (107264) | more than 11 years ago | (#3676065)

Thats a pretty stupid way how to count that. At this rate the most expensive piece of information would be the numbers of Bill Gate's bank accounts or something of that sort. I think that the post was just a prime troll.
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