Friday, September 21, 2012

Bitten by the fickle promises of technology

Ketchum put itself on the bleeding edge of technology and bled somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 dollars before the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency pulled the plug on the citywide free wireless network this week.

The city wounded itself by ignoring Moore’s Law and a few laws of nature involving ice and snow and succumbing to the siren song of technology. The wireless network was ill-conceived, problem–plagued and mismanaged since it was put into place in 2007.

For more than 50 years, computing power has doubled on average every 18 months. Intel founder Gordon Moore was the first to notice the trend in 1965. Thus the doubling was dubbed Moore’s Law.

Moore’s Law is great for individuals and businesses that benefit from the ability to run bigger and bigger computer programs faster and faster. It’s great for companies that sell computers and computer networks. However, it means that computers and computer-driven equipment rapidly become obsolete. It means that networks constantly need updating. But the latest and greatest applications often come with hefty price tags, not to mention the cost of the human expertise to keep them operating. And even though networking and computing prices have come down over the years, they are not free.

The mayor, the City Council and their advisers became enchanted by the idea that people with portable laptop computers or smartphones could access the Internet through a wireless network. They became enamored of the vision of a community full of connected computer users at work at outdoor tables and benches or in indoor public establishments. They were wooed by consultants who told them that with the system Ketchum could be in the forefront of communities its size.

The mayor and City Council considered the network at a public meeting, accepted public comment and promptly ignored it.

Ketchum’s independent technorati weighed in against the idea in part because of the challenge of maintaining outdoor connection points in an icy climate. They expressed reservations about the network’s coverage area, which they predicted would be too small to garner enough use to justify the cost. They pointed out that restaurants were expanding Wi-Fi networks within their own walls and could make the system unnecessary.

Their experienced opinions fell on deaf ears. The city accepted a private grant to get the system running, chipped in $100,000 and took on annual maintenance costs.

Fast forward five years. The system is on the junk heap. Ketchum is not alone in paying a price to learn the painful lessons of a romance with the fickle promises of technology. It has a lot of company. Just ask anyone who invested in Facebook.

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2019 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.