Recently I have been been sorting through some of my old electronic engineering books and found myself randomly flicking through circuit design principals and practical electronics/radio theory application of calculus.

    I remember the amount of hours I spent trying to get the different laws (Faraday, Coulomb, Kirchhoff, Lenz, Ohm, etc.) stuck in my head ready for the gruelling exams at the end of each term. I quickly realised that as I have moved from radio/electronics to the computer industry that most of my applied detailed knowledge has been lost.

    I think the old adage that you loose it if you don’t use it, definitely applies here.


    This got me thinking about the evolution of computing and the Internet and how there are many parallels to the introduction of electricity to the modern world and how we consider/use the Internet today.

    Examples that came to mind are:

    • Electricity was originally only available to business and the very wealthy
    • Electricity was originally only available in isolated segments of heavily populated areas
    • Electricity grids, once created, provided many more distribution opportunities, introduced redundancy and increased the customer reach which in-turn provided economies of scale to drive down costs
    • Modern society can not function without electricity
    • Electricity production methods and the resulting pollution has had a profound effect on our planet, where the production of consumer electronics and infrastructure supporting the never ending thirst of modern society for faster, more feature rich, communication methods. This is still spiralling out of control through the production of extraordinary high levels of non-recyclable waist, heavy metals and other planet destroying bi-products
    • Electricity has been essential to survive in modern day society for some time.

    The internet is quickly becoming (some would argue has become) essential to survival in our modern society and required to be available to all socio-economic groups and developing countries to allow them to participate in the global economy.

    But at what cost?

    Comments (4)

    1. Derek, I do agree as the usage of electricity were once seldom used and then became basic necessity, Internet is getting to a point of absolute essential for developing nations..Good that you still trying to remember faraday and coloumb law after all these years….

      • yeah, it would probably take me a little to remember how to apply Fast Fourier transforms against a current day frequency hopping spread spectrum DSP.
        All good though, I hope you have been well.


    2. Dean

      The electricity industry has been regulated for over 100 years and part of the stability and interoperability of the electrical grid can be attibuted to this strong regulation.

      Whilst I’m not an advocate of a highly regulated internet, I believe this lack of regulation will lead to greater costs to society in the areas you identified above. So to put a slightly different spin, I think another question is, “Freedom, but at what cost?”

    3. It’s probably overstating it a bit, particularly with regard to the “essentiality” aspect of internet connectivity.

      Yes, The essentiality of Internet is getting there, but given that unlike electricity where there are obligatory procedures in place prior to disconnecting a customer, and that (in Victoria at least) wrongful disconnection is supported by legislation that mandates compensation – we are not yet there with internet services.

      If you are wrongfully disconnected by your ISP, potentially without notice you have no enforceable recourse, other than bringing an action for breach of contract or in negligence at common law – where you will have to prove that you have suffered a loss. No loss = no compensation. The TIO ? meh.

      cf ;

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