Right now we're in an "out of sight, out of mind" phase of thinking about the cost of our computing, but the amount of computer power being put to work behind the scenes is staggering. In July of this year, the New York Times reported that Google was likely to be the fourth largest server manufacturer in the world. Can Yahoo or Microsoft be far behind?
I currently subscribe to a large amount of mailing lists with my GMail account, mainly for the convenience of searching them later. But what if Google told me that indexing all that email I don't read was adding up to significant environmental cost? What if Linden Labs told you the energy consumption of all your Second Life possessions? Tom Coates recently looked at the possibility of monitoring home energy usage, but I think we need to approach this from all angles.Â Never mind unplugging my appliances when I don't need them, I wonder how many servers in data centres across the world are carrying out needless processing on my behalf - what's the carbon footprint of my web-enabled world?