Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is Brad Pitt a public good

This thought occurred to me when I read about his Make It Right foundation which is trying to rebuild New Orleans (emphasis mine):

Green high-design utopianism is virulent at Make It Right, as at Global Green, and all the houses feature sophisticated systems to achieve net-zero energy use. At an open house last year, a Make It Right organizer insisted that I go down and watch the electric meter running backward as solar energy coursed back into the grid. I stood around with a few others, murmuring appreciatively, as if witnessing a high-tech voodoo ceremony.

New residents undergo training on the operation of their homes, and receive a thick technical notebook and a smaller user’s manual. They also get a dedicated phone number to call with problems; at the other end, a staffer will troubleshoot or send out a technician. I suggested to Tom Darden, the project’s executive director, that this didn’t seem to have much in the way of real-world application. But he shrugged and said it was part of the plan. Make It Right’s mission includes testing new approaches and discarding those that fail, a luxury few for-profit developers can afford.

For-profit developers under the pressure of competition does not engage in R&D to make a better product? Hmm...

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