Saturday, May 16, 2009

John Michael Greer, The end of the Information Age (original)

Prophets of an indefinite expansion of today's "information society" too often forget that information doesn't exist by itself; it requires a physical substrate, and if that goes away, so does the information. As the age of cheap energy comes to an end, relying on a substrate as energy-intensive as the internet may be a risky bet.

Something to think about:

Very few people realize just how extravagant the intake of resources to maintain the information economy actually is. The energy cost to run a home computer is modest enough that it’s easy to forget, for example, that the two big server farms that keep Yahoo’s family of web services online use more electricity between them than all the televisions on Earth put together. Multiply that out by the tens of thousands of server farms that keep today’s online economy going, and the hundreds of other energy-intensive activities that go into the internet, and it may start to become clear how much energy goes into putting these words onto the screen where you’re reading them.

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