Thoreau’s simple economic calculus shows we sometimes get less out of technology than we put in.
http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/lbgq5LWy2d4/ via Byline Henry David Thoreau ['s ] distillation of a year living in relative seclusion offers deep insights not just into the natural world and humanity’s place in it, but how that relationship was being impacted — and degraded — by the Industrial Revolution. It remains to this day a trenchant criticism of the excesses of technology….
A railroad ran along Walden Pond about one-third of a mile from Thoreau’s cabin, and he could hear the rattle of the trains. But he thought a trip by rail was a bad bargain:
One says to me, “I wonder that you do not lay up money; you love to travel; you might take the cars and go to Fitchburg today and see the country.” But I am wiser than that. I have learned that the swiftest traveller is he that goes afoot. I say to my friend, Suppose we try who will get there first. The distance is thirty miles; the fare ninety cents. That is almost a day’s wages. I remember when wages were sixty cents a day for laborers on this very road. Well, I start now on foot, and get there before night; I have travelled at that rate by the week together. You will in the meanwhile have earned your fare, and arrive there some time tomorrow, or possibly this evening, if you are lucky enough to get a job in season. Instead of going to Fitchburg, you will be working here the greater part of the day. And so, if the railroad reached round the world, I think that I should keep ahead of you.