Thursday, February 19, 2009

FutureFright: The Good, The Bad, and the Internet

The digital world. It's all around us, primarily because it's what we're both in right now (you are reading a blog, right?). Like Casper, the internet is a friendly ghost that's around for adventures when you need it, but leaves few traces on the material world (aside from slime, a la Ghostbusters). However, the digital world is founded not upon magical tidbits of ghostly love from an ancient cult headed by Gozar, but computer servers, which create more heat than a cockerspaniel on her rut. Not only consuming energy to be powered, these servers have to be cooled, purportedly consuming as much energy as it takes to boil a kettle of water over the course of two Google searches. It's enough to make a Luddite like myself consider going back to print.

But hold on there, my unhappy stone-aged camper! Compared to reading the traditional print version of the New York Times, a PDA user reading the same content sourced from the internet uses around 2-3% of the energy, according to a UC Berkeley study. It makes logical sense; the amount of resources required to create and distribute most traditional media are extravagant compared to the energy required to make and run the computers which you and the server farms use. That said, it is a good call to awareness for IT companies to develop more efficient electronics and for users to spend less time on YouTube and more time enjoying...well, whatever there is outside the internet. Just do a Google search to find out (and don't worry too much about that boiling water).

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