Category Archives: Efficiency

What information should we archive about our society?

What information should we archive about our society?

What information should we archive about our society?

We live in an era of information and communication. Internet has certainly helped spread the information and its development. Have you ever thought about the amount of information that we archive each day? It’s really a lot. Therefore, it’s essential to preserve only the archives that provide value to our society.

We don’t need to archive everything. We may ask ourselves why we should preserve certain television shows more than some others. We need to determine what the archives will be used for. The answer doesn’t seem necessarily obvious. Many times we know decades later with hindsight.

For example, in the sector of video games where I work with my company of independent games, the number of games has been increasing for decades. There are plenty of good games from the 80s that are still available today. Although they represent a minority of games, the principle of information that accumulates and dilutes the other games is present. Archives of games are only growing. The names of games are getting very similar because of a lack of originality. Despite this, I find important to preserve the older games. They have a historical value and serve as inspiration for the gaming community of players and developers.

Here are certain archive types that seem to accumulate over time.

  • TV News
  • Movies
  • Television shows
  • Radio shows
  • Songs and music
  • Books
  • YouTube videos
  • Website archive (web page and the different versions over time)
  • Software (applications and video games)
  • History of nations
  • Archaeological data

Problems related to information archiving and why should we care?

We can think that the information management will become less and less effective as  the archives grow.

I asked myself what information would be important to archive. Archiving everything is an aberration. When searching for relevant information, some information could dilute the important information.

In addition to archiving the present, we’re archiving the history of ancient nations. For example, we’re archiving the history of ancient Egypt over several thousands of years. Imagine the amount of information that we’re archiving.

Some notable problems arise with information archiving.

  • Dilution of new information: Unless being able to search by date, we often get old results. The amount of results makes the selection of relevant information much more difficult as the amount of information grows.
  • Costs of maintenance: Archiving information requires a cost for the maintenance and the access to the archives. These costs can become very high because we tend to archive more information.


In my opinion, there are no solutions that can actually solve the problem very efficiently. Here are some solutions.

  • A voluntary solution would be to delete older archives and keeping the most significant. However, this selection is based on standards that are difficult to establish.
  • An unconscious solution that already exists is to let the people decide on a collective and unconscious way how to keep the archives. For example, the day when everyone has deleted or destroyed a book, it’s probably because it will no longer be valuable enough to be kept related to other books.

One way or another, archives tend to grow at a problematic pace.


There are no right or wrong answers. We don’t know exactly when we will need these archives. We’d need to clean it up from time to time. The main point is to be aware of the problem. Nevertheless, I feel we’ll have a phenomenal amount of information and very difficult to manage in a generation or two.

Do you find unfair to pay twice for the roads?

Champlain Bridge.

Champlain Bridge.

The toll of the new Champlain Bridge in Montreal creates a debate among Québécois.

Some highways and bridges in Quebec were financed with tolls until 1991. These infrastructures were directly financed by taxes after 1991. Recently, we have seen two new bridges appear with tolls. The one of the Autoroute 25 between Montreal and Laval and the one of the Autoroute 30 at west of Montreal.

Problems that are expensive

Basically, the problem is that citizens already pay taxes for infrastructures and the government asks them more money to pay for the new infrastructures. Here are more precise problems that I see by this kind of approach.

Higher taxes and cost of living

We already pay a certain amount of taxes. People who will use the new Champlain Bridge will have to pay their transit in addition to paying the same amount of taxes they already pay. In the old model, people were already paying taxes in addition to paying for their transit. In 1991, the government decided to abolish tolls and to finance infrastructures directly by taxes collected. People paid more taxes, but no more tolls. Today, people pay an amount of taxes already very high and the government is asking them to pay for crossing certain bridges without reducing the taxes of citizens.

For the bridge Olivier-Charbonneau, the cost is $2.48 per transit at the rush hours for users with the transponder. For about 260 transits (about five working days per week with two transits per day), this is approximately $1,290 per year. This is probably the insurance premium that people pay for their car.

Let’s consider the last example and let’s add the new Champlain Bridge. Imagine a driver crossing the two bridges. The cost would be about $2,600 per year. Several bridges could require a toll in the coming years as they are being replaced. It’s not rare in the Montreal area that adriver crosses two bridges for getting to work. With costs like these, drivers will pay the equivalent of another insurance premium, their car a second time or even both!

In a few years, a driver traveling from Laval could cross the bridge Olivier-Charbonneau (between Laval and Montreal) and the future Champlain Bridge (between Montreal and Brossard) at a similar cost than needed fuel for the ride (even with the transponder).

Additional management costs

Infrastructure tolls generate additional costs to collect money. In addition to paying a bridge or highway, citizens must pay for managing the infrastructures. These management costs could be avoided if the government managed directly the costs through taxes.

For a bridge or two at the provincial scale, it will probably not create very high management costs, but imagine that each bridge and highway of the province askstoll. That’s a lot of unnecessary management and costs to collect money directly from the pockets of drivers.

Complexity for citizens

The fact of adding tolls and transponders to collect money from drivers creates a complexity for them. That requires them extra time that could be avoided if the government collected taxes directly in overall taxes.

Let’s consider a concrete example. The new bridge Olivier-Charbonneau of the Autoroute 25 requires a toll since its construction in 2011. Users can cross it at a higher cost without a transponder. The higher cost includes management fees. For regular users, the acquisition of an electronic transponder allows to register transits at a lower cost.

The transponder is not a bad thing, but think about the trouble for drivers who have to cross several bridges. They’ll need a transponder for each bridge!

Furthermore, that penalizes people form outside who come in the Montreal region by car. Likely that people visiting the area will not get a transponder and they’ll pay the maximum price. That creates considerable additional costs.

Who really benefits from the toll?

There is a principle where people pay taxes to the government to develop the infrastructures. It’s a common good. Usually, we don’t pay individually for each segment of road that we use. People have accepted the idea that we pay taxes in a general way to manage the infrastructures (including several public services) with these taxes.

Our current model includes two modes of payment for the infrastructure: paying individually each infrastructure and paying globally for the entire infrastructure. Our taxes pay for the majority of road sections. Only a minority of sections is private and requires a toll.

We may wonder if it’s really better to have some roads maintained by the private sector. Does the population get the most out of his money with this model? Some people think that the roads are better maintained by the private sector.

Furthermore, let’s ask the question: why paying for bridges and not boulevards? From my point of view, there are two reasons. First, the bridges are among the most expensive infrastructures. The government is in debt and unable to pay for new bridges and that’s why he introduces tolls. Second, the bridges are very limited access. If a driver wants to avoid a bridge, the alternatives are relatively far. Unlike boulevards and secondary roads, bridges represent access with little or no alternative. It becomes easier to get citizen paying.


All this makes me to think that the government is implementing a toll system to be able to pay for the new bridges because it doesn’t have the financial resources to build them. Several bridges are already in a frightful state with very high maintenance costs. One way or another, we will pay for the bridges. The big difference is that we will pay for the management in addition to paying for bridges.

Imagine that all the bridges in the Montreal area ask for a toll. A person could easily crosses three bridges (the North Shore to the South Shore) back and forth and it would cost about $14 of toll in addition to fuel.

Infrastructure funding seems to have worked for several years without toll (since 1991). Today, we’re going back to the old model with additional costs. Based on the figures above, we can see the extent of costs that may be comparable to paying its fuel, insurance premium or vehicle twice. This could represent an enormous cost in the coming years for all drivers.

Do you find unfair to pay for each transit? Generally, do you think tolls will improve your life?

How a change in a service affects your life and productivity

How a change in a service affects your life and productivity

How a change in a service affects your life and productivity

Recently, Canada Post announced that it was going to stop delivering mail at home. The service will be available as PO boxes. So instead of picking up their mail directly into their mailbox, Canadians will have to go to their PO boxes to pick up their mail.

How does this change affect people?

I understand that Canada Post has profitability problems and must restructure. However, by making some simple calculations, we can see that this may represent a significant loss of productivity for many workers. Here’s a realistic and minimal  calculation of what this could mean for Canadians.

If you take 12 minutes a day to get your mail and that five days a week, that makes 60 minutes (or one hour) per week. Let’s say that you spend a two-week vacation outside, that’s 50 hours a year to get your mail.

50 hours per year is the equivalent of a workweek  of 40 hours with 10 hours of transportation. The above calculation is a very realistic figure to pick up his mail. It may be even more.

According to Canada Post, one-third of Canadians will transition to PO boxes. The two third of Canadians already receive their mail in PO boxes and nothing changes for these two third. This doesn’t represent a major change, but still important. We could think about people with reduced mobility and depending on the postman.

Possible solutions

Paying more for stamps could be a solution. However, Canada Post must have done a detailed evaluation of the possibilities. With emails, traditional mail has decreased significantly. The service is more likely to change. I trust Canada Post, but there could still be ways to help people to save time.

A solution that I see might be to tell us by SMS or email when we have mail in the PO box. If you’re at work, you could look at your PO box when returning from work only if you know that you have mail. This could save time and money. This could be the best compromise in terms of cost and efficiency. However, for people who receive mail every day, this is not a benefit because they will have to go check anyway.

What lessons should we learn from this?

We don’t often think about this kind of situation when we are employees. Managers are more likely to think about this kind of situation. Working for my business, this is the kind of thing I calculate more often.

The example of Canada Post is one example among many others. If you are self-employed and you are not able to have a week of vacation per year, this example can demonstrate how a few minutes in less or in extra can affect your holidays or leisure.