A Tech-Econ Mashup with a Libertarian Flavor

Internet or Electricity?

Tyler Cowen asks the question today, citing an article in the NY Times about Entasopia, a Kenyan settlement that has spotty mail delivery, little infrastructure, and no electricity. Google has helped finance the solar-powered internet service that serves as the bridge over the “digital divide” for Entasopia’s 4,000 residents.

So, would you rather live without internet or electricity? For the first time in years, I’m living in a house without an internet connection (or a working furnace at the moment; waking up to no heat on a 6-degree day is an experience you should all try sometime). While there are coffee shops in town with free wireless access, and I can still use MSU’s internet if I’m on campus, it’s much less convenient than checking my Twitter feed in my PJs over a bowl of cocoa puffs.

I’m tempted to say that I’d prefer having internet over electricity, under a few conditions. If I lived in a warmer climate, I wouldn’t need more heat than a kerosene heater could provide. I could probably make due without warm water, or my industrial-strength hair dryer. If I had sufficient solar power (or whatever alternative) to keep my cell phone and computer charged, and maybe to power something to boil water or cook an occasional warm meal, I think I’d be satisfied. Oh, and I would need a high-bandwidth connection, of course; dial-up speed internet just isn’t internet anymore. I’d also need Google to pay for my connection, since Entasopia’s service costs about $700 every month.

You know, maybe I could experiment with this by just shutting off the lights and cracking my neighbor’s WEP connection.


Filed under: Science & Technology, , ,

2 Responses

  1. Ceidwad says:

    I’d rather live without the Internet. I couldn’t live without basic energy services, such as lighting or heating. On the other hand, most of the stuff I use the internet for I could do almost as well in real life. Internet forums being the exception.

  2. Libby says:

    You must be Canadian or something. Living in, say, the Bahamas would be pretty hospitable even without lights or heating.

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