Nov 6, 2012

INTERNET EVERYWHERE



If not for that tower a few miles from us we'd be completely isolated. Most of the homes near us are camps occupied occasionally in the summer months, and the rest of the town lives on the other side of our three mile dirt road. It's a choice we made to live remotely, but without a constant connection to our family, friends, and work thousands of miles away it would be an unsustainable life.

When it comes down to it, though, I don't know very much about the way the internet works-- the thing that makes this all possible-- and that's a little unsettling. Our needs are fixed (and growing): for work we've got big files that need to be uploaded and downloaded (and buffering ruins Netflix). But unlike ISP customers in urban areas, it's not as easy as calling the cable company and moving up to a faster speed. The best offered in an area like ours is in practice around 1 Mb upload/download-- barely enough to stream video. Likewise, cell coverage here is spotty, and the 4G smartphone can only pick up a 1x signal. Building a dependable life around this shaky framework isn't simple, and it's not a wonder more people aren't doing it.

But it's made us think about how much our lives are dictated by bandwidth. If fast-- truly fast-- internet was available anywhere in the country, would more people live outside urban clusters? How many people are tethered to an area they don't like because of their work? We're interested in the unique ways people have substituted their physical presence at work with a digital tool that empowers them to simultaneously pursue the lifestyle they want. Thanks to tools like email, Skype, Facebook, Youtube and more, it's starting to make more sense to think about lifestyle first and fitting everything else in second. Going out into the woods to live isn't a new idea, but bringing the world along with you is, and the possibilities are hampered only by technology.

As we learn and make sense of all this we'll be documenting it all in a video that, for credibility, we'll call a movie. Our own pursuit of this new possibility for life is fueling a tour around the country that will take us from Maine to Los Angeles at least, so stick with us or get in touch and we'll see what's possible together!