HOW BIG IS THE INTERNET?  -  Monday January 11th, 2010


The Internet, via.

There are somewhere in the order of 4.2 billion unique Internet addresses (IPs), housed on 44 million servers. These consume about 5% of all the world’s electricity and produce about 2% of all carbon dioxide emissions. This amounts to roughly 80 megatons a year and is similar in output to the emissions of Argentina or the Netherlands.

It is comprised of about 40 million gigabytes of information, which, in its simplest form, would weigh something in the order of fifty-six millionths of a gram.

Here the contradiction: the Internet might, theoretically, occupy less space than a single grain of sand, and yet its contribution to global warming is equal to a small country. It is both an immense geographical entity and a miniscule atomic whisper. It exists in a time and place, and yet transcends that to become timeless and aspatial.

It is an emergent system, where a highly-engineered, yet simple, set of rules has allowed for the creation of a massive network sprawling across the planet. The structure of the Internet is a hub and spoke system, in which information is hoarded at central servers and trickled down to individual IPs, making it, in technological terms, far from democratic.

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