Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) is changing how Washington residents surf the web. Metropolitan cities like Seattle and Bellevue have long had access to broadband connections, enabling the Pacific Northwest to stay at the forefront of many existing and emerging industries. However, through an infusion of nearly $140 million in federal grants from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), NoaNet is adding 1,000 miles of broadband all across the state. This expansive project, one of the largest in the country, will bring reliable, high-speed Internet to nearly 2,000 hospitals, libraries, schools and universities in rural Washington communities.
Eric Brende began at MIT to understand and deconstruct what media theorist Neil Postman calls our Technopoly, “a way of life that seeks technological answers first before other means, or even before thinking through the questions.” Since the relatively recent introduction of modern technology into our society, Moore’s Law (named appropriately for Intel’s co-founder) dictates that electronic tech grows exponentially: as our tech becomes more sophisticated, it is used in turn to produce even more complex systems. This expansion was a catalyst for Brende; he writes, “What I wanted to discover was a balance between too much machinery and too little, or better yet, how to arrive at it wherever one found oneself.” And so, tired of being surrounded by people who drive their cars to the gym to get exercise, Eric and his new wife decided to experiment with living completely tech-free.