Monday, August 18, 2003

Ok, I'm back. It wasn't related to the blackout, actually... there were different reasons, but I'm good to go now.

The blackout, oddly enough, was actually predicted by at least one man: Nathan Newman, who wrote a post about his 1998 Ph.D. dissertation that showed both how and why it happened:

While the exact cause of this year's blackouts are not established yet, it's clear that neglected infrastructure lay at the heart of the problem. "electricity demand has shot up by 25 percent since 1990, [while] construction of transmission systems has declined by 30 percent." People will point to why this regulation or that regulation was not in place, but the reality is that deregulation gave the key energy players self-interested incentives not to waste their own funds on maintenance.
The Dissertation is called "Net Loss: Government, Technology and the Political Economy of Community in the Age of the Internet". What I've seen reminds me of the work of Cass Sunstein and Lawrence Lessig (a compliment, to be sure); those two luminaries, however, can't really lay claim to playing the Cassandra here. Nathan can, and while it's a dubious honor, it shows why Nathan is a commentator and analyst to be taken seriously.

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