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Never heard of the Jevons Paradox? Wikepedia defines one way to understand the Jevons Paradox is to observe that an increase in the efficiency with which a resource (e.g., fuel) is used causes a decrease in the price of that resource when measured in terms of what it can achieve (e.g., work). Generally speaking, a decrease in the price of a good or service will increase the quantity demanded (see supply and demand, demand curve). With a lower price for work, more work will be "purchased" (indirectly, by buying more fuel). The resulting increase in the demand for fuel is known as the rebound effect. This increase in demand may or may not be large enough to offset the original drop in demand from the increased efficiency. The Jevons paradox occurs when the rebound effect is greater than 100%, exceeding the original efficiency gains. This effect has been called "backfire."

How does this tie back into Google Fiber? If you suddenly increase the speed of the Internet drastically, what Google is hoping for is an increase in overall activity on the Internet. It's difficult to determine how people will utilize a sudden increase in bandwidth, and I'd love it if Google could share some activity from Google Fiber customers, but quite frankly, they're not dumb enough to share sensitive information publicly (the privacy skeptics would have a field day).

In a world of more bandwidth the internet will become different. The complexity of software will increase, as both the graphical user interface, paired with the machine algorithms for dealing with unstructured data sets, will become much more advanced. This will ease the path to the Internet of Things and real-time learning. For Google, it would be a dream-come-true for every household to have access to better speeds, because it gives them added flexibility to create contextual web applications that will create better/unique experiences, which will suck more daylight hours out of you, increasing the number of opportunities to display one advertisement or another, through its portfolio of websites, or via its network of website that belong to the Google ad network.

The question comes down to - just how much time will people spend on the Internet if it became a hundred times quicker? The Internet is winning time against all other categories of media, such as TV, radio and print. In the past five years, the amount of time spent increased from 3 hours and 11 minutes to 5 hours and 46 minutes. It wouldn't be surprising to see that figure increase exponentially upon the implementation of Google Fiber in more households.

 

Jeff Seal

Editor in Chief

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