Category: Utilities

From black market to black out

20 August, 2012 (13:35) | Cities, Electricity, India, Informality, Infrastructure, Utilities |

By:David A. Smith   As much as I explore informality in housing and urban enterprise, readers might conclude that I celebrate it uncritically, but any form of informality has enormous costs, and not just on the informal society, as demonstrated by a recent article from the Christian Science Monitor:   A two-day blackout for half […]

Stranded costs of the wetware infrastructure: Part 4, transitioning to the new equilibrium

9 June, 2011 (12:27) | Economics, Global news, Infrastructure, Innovations, Markets, Networks, Post office, Speculation, Utilities |

[Continued from yesterday’s Part 3 and the preceding Part 1 and Part 2.]   By: David A. Smith   Our tragedy of the human cost in the collapse of postal mail as an urban utility, as uncovered by James Meek‘s London Review of Books article, has brought us to the point of realizing that the vast majority […]

Stranded costs of the wetware infrastructure: Part 3, the un-maintainable network

8 June, 2011 (09:41) | Economics, Global news, Infrastructure, Innovations, Markets, Networks, Post office, Speculation, Utilities |

Continued from yesterday’s Part 2 and the preceding Part 1.]   By: David A. Smith   In our continuing story about the infrastructure challenges of a utility in decline – the regular mail – yesterday’s post [Even the term mocks the mail! – Ed.] brought us through the implosion of mail’s essential-regulated-monopoly business model, as reported […]

Stranded costs of the wetware infrastructure: Part 2, the imploding business model

7 June, 2011 (12:09) | Economics, Global news, Infrastructure, Innovations, Markets, Networks, Post office, Speculation, Utilities |

[Continued from yesterday’s Part 1.]   By: David A. Smith   Yesterday’s post on the collapse of physical mail as a critical utility used as its source an empathetic and intriguing London Review of Books article by James Meek [hat tip: Matthew Healy] on the infeasibility of the current European mail delivery system because its […]

Stranded costs of the wetware infrastructure: Part 1, from market-fast to way-too-slow

6 June, 2011 (18:12) | Economics, Global news, Infrastructure, Innovations, Markets, Networks, Post office, Speculation, Utilities |

By: David A. Smith   Because infrastructure is a network, adding any one new node is so much cheaper than building a parallel system, so its economic end state must be either a natural monopoly (where the network power is used to exclude competition, think Microsoft Windows or railroad robber barons) or a public utility […]