Insights

Calculating the pollution effect of data

There are many ways that digital can create pollution. Let’s start by looking at how much data we use and what pollution it causes. Analysis by Cisco indicates that an average US citizen is using 140 gigabytes (GB) of data a month. What sort of pollution is that causing? That’s not an easy question to… Read More »

The hidden pollution cost of online meetings

It is often assumed that online meetings are better for the environment than physical meetings. That is not always the case. A one-hour audio call consumes about 36 MB of data per person. A one-hour standard-definition video call consumes about 270 MB per person. A one-hour high-definition video call consumes about 540 MB per person.… Read More »

State of intranets 2020

I saw my first intranets around 1997. They suffered from terrible governance, zero management interest, resulting in an aimlessness and purposelessness. Usability was appalling, tools were like torture instruments. And the content? If content rotted and smelled as it got older, then most intranets back then would have been shut down as a health hazard.… Read More »

Designing without the packaging

If we could design without the packaging, we would have a major impact on waste reduction. To save our planet we must firstly radically reduce the amount of packaging we create and consume. Under certain circumstances, e-commerce could be better for the environment than driving to the store. But if e-commerce encourages unnecessary consumption, then… Read More »

From user experience to Earth experience

Digital is physical. Every byte is supported by an atom. Every single action in digital costs the Earth energy. Turn the electricity off and you turn digital off. Digital is demanding an increasing share of the Earth’s energy and resources and is a major contributor to the generation of toxic trash, to a culture of… Read More »

We need more editors

When the means of communications change, societies change, though not always in the ways intended or expected. The printing press revolutionized society, though some of the change was backwards rather than forwards. “There is no evidence that, except in religion, printing hastened the spread of new ideas… In fact, the printing of medieval scientific texts… Read More »

Data expands to fill the space available (Part 2)

If we printed out one zettabyte of data as books, we could give every one of the 7.7 billion people on this planet 129,870 of these books. They’d have almost 13 billion words to read. An average reader can read 1,000 words in about five minutes. It would therefore take 752 years of nonstop, no-sleep… Read More »

Data expands to fill the space available (Part 1)

The problem with physical is often not enough space. The problem with digital is too much space. When new communication technologies expand the capacity to create more communication, people invariably create more communication. With the invention of the printing press, publishing exploded. “In the year 1550 alone, for example, some 3 million books were produced… Read More »

Rapid evolution of AI

The earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago, and it is believed that life began to emerge about 800 million years later. Humans evolved from apes around three million years ago, with modern humans emerging only about 200,000 years ago. The evolution of computers is generally described in generations. The first generation (1940–1956) used vacuum… Read More »

Why does so much software suck?

In the United States, tractors built during the 1980s and 1990s are in big demand. “Tractors from that era are well-built and totally functional, and aren’t as complicated or expensive to repair as more recent models that run on sophisticated software,” Adam Belz wrote for the Star Tribune in January 2020. The tractors are extremely… Read More »