Leave it to engineers to mis-weigh the Internet Ecosystem


A couple of “weights” for all the electrons circulating around to create the Internet.

The weight of the Internet, in electrons – about 1 grain of sand (2007)
http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jun/how-much-does-the-internet-weigh

Another weight: 2 ounces, 50 million horsepower, 40 billion watts for the servers (2007)
http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/04/weighing_the_we.html

“…Each person alive today has six watts of computational power at the disposal of their twenty watt brain…”

http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/06/the_sincerest_f.html

Well guess what. This doesn’t include:

  1. The energy used by client rendering of web pages, media, and downloaded files.
  2. The ’embodied energy’ of the pages, which is related to the energy used to keep all the web design companies running.
  3. Any reasonable estimate (constructing the Ouroboros for the web) requires including these electrons. In addition, we need to calculate the energy used for client rendering and embodied energy.

Many people – from ISOC to Mark Zuckerberg refer to the “Internet Ecosystem”. But an Ecosystem must be defined in terms of inputs and outputs, as well as stuff happening inside the local cycle. When we focus on the purely informational components of an ecosystem (like focusing on the brain electrical activity of a school of fishes) we leave out the other parts of the system.

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