Can we apply “reuse, reduce, recycle” to the Cloud?

We’re all so spoiled in our use of computing resources.

I summon the vast computing power of the Google infrastructure to do basic math, because it’s quicker to launch than my calculator app. Hundreds of machines spring into action, routing packets, splitting up my ‘search’ across machines, and returning dozens of results that I ignore, just to find out what 423/16.7 is.

That’s incredibly wasteful–in real dollars, in environmental costs, in infrastructure costs. It costs bandwidth. It costs electricity.

A tremendous cost that is hidden to me. I don’t feel it.

I reload Facebook, just to see if there’s anything new–again, a vast (partially cached) query, across hundreds if not thousands of machines. And then, finding nothing new,  I throw away the results–close the tab, open it again later when I’m curious.

Four recycling bins: Paper, Plastic, Energy, Bandwidth.

What can we as users do to reduce our carbon footprint, in the form of the demands we make on the infrastructure of the world?

What can we as developers do to provide the best experience while shying away from the SIMM-card-in-a-48″-cardboard-box syndrome of the current web experience?

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One thought on “Can we apply “reuse, reduce, recycle” to the Cloud?

  1. There’s certainly great motivation to be power-efficient on mobile devices. And power is the bottleneck in datacenters too. There’s a reason everyone talks about performance per watt instead of raw performance these days. So, the proper incentives are certainly in place here.

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