Every day, nearly 20.000 posts tagged #milano are published on Instagram. Approximately 1.700 trees are necessary to compensate for the daily CO2 emission associated to this flux of data. Not to mention the amount of energy consumed by the world’s data centres – the repositories for billions of gigabytes of information – which have the same carbon footprint as the aviation industry (@the.independent, 2016).
If the sum of each of our daily digital actions takes a heavy toll on the planet, many alternative strategies are out there to help us radically rethink our digital existence.
An example? The “Sneakernet”, a tongue-in-cheek term that was coined by computer freaks in the 90’s to describe the transfer of electronic information, especially computer files, by physically carrying removable media such as magnetic tape, floppy disks, compact discs, USB flash drives, or external hard drives from one computer to another.
Essentially, it’s the transfer of digital information manually – hence the expression, which refers to sneakers as a possible transport mechanism.
Imagine you put a portable hard disk of 500 gigabytes in your backpack and start walking (10 hours per day, 5 km/h). Compared to the bandwidth of a dial-up connection, which uses a standard phone line and analog modem to access the Internet: for transferring the same amount of gigabytes, it would take 5 years.
The result is clear: a hiker is always faster than a dial-up connection transferring 500 gigabytes, even if he walks until the other end of the world.
But the speed of data transmission is not really the issue here. In our part of the world, where most people have access to high-speed Internet access, the value of the “Sneakernet”is to put forward an alternative system that can make data transmission less wasteful, more sustainable, and almost untraceable. (via @2050.plus)