Is the Internet More Vital Than Water?

Not for everyone, of course — Brock Lesnar, for instance, doesn’t go near the Internet.

But as mobile browsing is fast becoming a reality, I love watching how people use the Internet to shape their lives in ways large and small. Here are a pair of interesting examples. Granted, both of these fall into the “small” category:

1. A web site called Better Than the Van, which is building a community of free places to stay for touring bands. The idea is that music fans can offer up their homes as crash pads. As someone who used to drive around the country in a van playing clubs with my band, worried about having enough gas money to make it to the next town — when gas was a bit cheaper than now — I was always very happy to find a free place to stay instead of a Motel 6 or Cricket Inn. (Unfortunately, the free places were often even grodier than the motels.)

2. A site called Get Drunk Cheap, founded by three Univ. of Michigan engineering students, which “compiles beer prices from the campus area of Ann Arbor to help you find the best deals in town!” Here’s more from Hani, one of the students:

We currently have about eight stores and their prices and will have close to 20 total within two weeks before school starts. We started the site because we realized a significant amount of college students drink and at the same time like to save money. If [we’re] successful, our goal is to expand to other campuses. We are also going to talk to local bars and beer stores to see if they would like to advertise on our site.

There may well be significant overlap between the users of these two sites. They have a couple of other things in common too: they both encourage more miles driven at a time when overall miles are falling; and they might also lead to the sort of trouble that gives liability lawyers a lot of business. But a little bit of risk is what makes the world exciting, no?


I predict Get Drunk Cheap will face heat from the school admin. to shut down, in lieu of a national initiative to decrease underage drunk driving


Better Than The Van sounds suspiciously like the CouchSurfing [] network, only more exclusive.


i thinks internet same important with water, someday in the future.. water make our living, and internet too.. Me

Daniel Polónia

Have you ever been in the middle of the desert with just a small bottle of water and an inclement sun over your head?


Regarding the beer price website, Minneapolis has had a site like this for at least a few years now - As far as I know, it's run on advertising dollars, and is a great resource for those in the Twin Cities area that want to know where to drink, cheaply.

Auren Kaplan

I've actually used with good results, probably have saved $15-20 bucks. Might not seem like much but that's an extra night at the bar!


Both of these sound like things that could be improved with that buzziest of buzzwords: location awareness.

Pull up the app, and all you see is a map guiding you to the nearest crash place, or the cheapest bar. The latter could even push a closer but slightly more expensive bar higher up the ranking...


Book Your Own F'ing Life has been around since the early 80s. It was a zine version of Better Than the Van for punk & hardcore which covered the world and also included promoters, radio stations etc - not just places to crash.

Like so much of the net this isn't a new idea - it's just been made easier by the web.

Charles D

I wouldn't say that the latter causes more driving. Often times when people go out drinking, especially young people, they will move from bar to bar as different people call and they find a great deal. This would make it much easier to settle on one location since a cheap beer is something every college student will go out and stay put for.


I'm from Bay Area and just moved a way to central CA. I found that the Bay Area uses so many websites that helped shaped where I ate, where I went out to drink, and where to buy stuff. The way that people around there use websites liked Yelp helped me find such amazing restaurants! I don't know how I'm getting buy without it now.


Surprised you don't mention

There are versions for several large cities. The site compiles an impressive array of drink specials throughout the city.

It's great.

Luis Felipe Jaramillo

Lovely hypothesis. However, may be this makes sense in doing this while you have gas at $4. May be it doesn't when you have gas at $5 or $6, even if you're a drunkie teenager at Campus. May be it would just confirm the obvious. Or may be it could find irrational behaviors on special cohorts of people, like drunkies.


If you want to waste a lot of time, water just won't cut it!