The most ecological technology is one you use for a long time. This is especially true of computing technology, where the embodied energy is several magnitudes higher than the energy cost of using it.
I would wager a bet that the energy spent and CO2 emitted to the atmosphere by the computing devices used for such a discussion only during such a discussion is comparable to any energy saved or drop in carbon footprint that would happen if TLS was not used in a given context.
@Shufei @tomasino @rysiek @jaranta I hadn't seen this exact article, but I'm aware of the overall problem and it has weighed heavily on my mind for a few years now. I am simultaneously very interested in but deeply skeptical of the "sustainable computing" movement. I have, with some difficulty, resisted the temptation to buy any new "low energy" toys like ESP8266s for years for this reason.
@Shufei @tomasino @rysiek @jaranta It's a problem that needs wider recognition in hacker circles, IMHO. I once read a review of one of the Pinebook machines (I forget which, where, when). In a comment, somebody laid out what they considered fatal design flaws which meant they would not buy one. Somebody replied and said, roughly, "yes, those are all serious problems, but this is the first laptop the project has produced, they are still learning. If enough people buy these laptops, they will make enough money to be able to design a second one and it will be better, and they're cheap enough you can upgrade as soon as that happens". Nobody batted an eyelid at this mentality! Of deliberately buying flawed hardware with the express intention to discard it after a few years, in order to improve the odds of less flawed hardware materialising in the future! These new ARM machines are so cheap, and their low power consumption advertised so enthusiastically, that people think of them as inconsequential and almost even disposable. Maker types buy dirt cheap ARM boards and use them to automate the most trivial of tasks, literally in order to do things like receive notifications on their phone when the tumble drier downstairs has finished, or when something is put in their mailbox, saving them O(1) minute of inconvenience required to just go look. It's really heavy duty Jensen's paradox stuff.
@solderpunk @Shufei @tomasino @rysiek There's two, opposite values at play here: environmentalism and and (lacking a better term) computational individualism, which might be valuable in itself, regardless of negative effects it has. But I'm not sure how big a problem the maker community is in relation to - well, everyone else. The current design paradigm is planned obsolescence, since it's the most profitable one.
@jaranta @Shufei @tomasino @rysiek Very true. I don't mean to unduly demonise the maker community and realise that they're a drop in the bucket compared to e.g. rampant upgrade culture in the smartphone world.
I have definitely wondered about the extent to which the positive consequences of lot of computing offset the terrible ecological cost. Certainly I'm at risk of being called a hypocrite for continuing to compute at all. I do think the consequences can be of great benefit, perhaps enough to make it worthwhile.
In the case of the computers themselves perhaps it's a moot point because they've all already been made, and the embodied energy put into them is not available for anything else, so I may as well use and enjoy them.
That doesn't work so well, though, for the current global internet infrastructure, where the actually running costs, which *could* be stopped or decreased, are non-trivial. Maybe I should be online less.
@solderpunk @jaranta @tomasino @rysiek It needn’t come down to a short path of watts. The community is an intangible energy pool. I hazard your community ripple effect effort does heaps good. CoughGeminiCough.
I think heaps could be done by just slowing down the production cycle. Make devices last longer. Make it de rigeuer. The fashion chasers can be easily guided by influencers to scrounging after new software or such to offset the silicon slowdown.
I feel as though one of the problems is the way that high-powered personal computing devices are ubiquitously used as "thin clients" for services which are being carried out on high-powered remote computing devices. This seems like a serious resource allocation problem.
Another is, of course, the failure to adopt a responsible attitude toward energy supply.
(Mind, I can't stand the hypocrisy of "Low-Tech Magazine".)
I think there's a great deal to be said in favour of the model of a timesharing system with terminals, but that it works best if (a) the admins are known to, & responsible to the users ; & (b) the terminals are made to be durable & supported for a long time.
Definitely the situation we have now is not like that at all.
"I appreciate SDF but it's a general-purpose server and the name doesn't make it obvious that it's about art." - Eugen Rochko