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This is my diary....what I make sense of, around me. You'll find short prose on contemporary topics that interest me. What can you expect - Best adjectives? …. hmm occasionally, tossed around flowery verbs ?…. Nope, haiku-like super-brevity? … I try to. Thanks for dropping by & hope to see you again

January 17, 2009

How Green is my Internet

A recent NEWS bit on how much the ubiquitous Google search- a query click, which has become contemporary internet ritual, effected the environment came as a shocker. What apparently came into the picture was the carbon footprint it created in basic exchange of information in this digital age. And in an extended way, it also raised questions about organization’s communication infrastructure & its carbon impact arising out of the emissions from running their network.

The “ I am feeling Lucky” convictions that I got out of my regular Google searches turned into a moral baggage & burden of a thought that it was not being so lucky for the environment. Because as per recent NEWS reports; performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate the same amount of harmful carbon dioxide as boiling an electric kettle for a cup of tea. I presume this was computed on energy consumption equivalents and therefore hydrocarbon usage , and as per the Harvard university physicist who made the calculations, a typical search generates about seven grammes of CO2! To put this in a broader perspective, available data suggests that computing industry contributes 2 percent of global carbon emissions, similar to the global aviation industry, and this will increase its carbon emissions by 6 percent per year, due to unparalleled demand for computing hardware, software and services.

The underlying driver for all these is the lucrative Internet search market. Google leads this with its engine processing nearly two-thirds of the Web’s queries but there are hundreds of smaller search engines. The economics behind this is quite simple, in the US alone, companies spend $17 billion (Rs.69,700 crore) a year on online advertising, and 40% of that is spent on search engine sites. And the mad scramble to embrace e-commerce has resulted in companies hiring specialists to drive their websites higher in search results on popular search engines to drive traffic to their sites. This in turn is propelling the Internet search industry, not only are the algorithms that drive the search engines are getting better but the search output itself is evolving from traditional text links to unified search results that offer Web sites, news, pictures and video on one page. The searchable index is also increasing exponentially while companies like Google are also building huge repositories of data to support this information binge. The next generation of voice based search has already been lined up. All this frenzy is a build up to feed 4 billion information hungry PCs by 2020.

Meanwhile the browser war has intensified with Google coming up with chrome to take on Internet Explorer version8 to make the internet even better but the big question is how much of an impact will all these have in increasing the network of search engines in this world wide web & its fallout on the environment?
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