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  Open Letter to the ‘Second Life Environmental Council’  
 
 
Posted 2007-04-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
To the Second Life Environmental Council,

My name is Tony Walsh. I've been regularly writing about Second Life for 3 years. Last year I raised the question "Is Second Life sustainable ecologically?" This question was picked up by Nick Carr, who found that an avatar in Second Life consumes about as much power as the average Brazilian. Carr's controversial findings reached more people than my original question would have. Last night I attended a discussion involving Simran Sethi, who was in Second Life to talk about environmental issues and solutions. She hadn't considered what Second Life's ecological footprint might be, but said she'd look into it.

What is the environmental impact of an expanding virtual world served from thousands of high-end computers to hundreds of thousands of high-end computers around the globe? Although computers are getting more efficient as time goes by, Second Life isn't getting any smaller: Ironically, a Brazilian version of Second Life is due to launch April 23, 2007. If Carr's math is correct, Brazilian Second Life users will be doubling their average energy consumption.

I've reviewed your group's Events Calendar for Earth Month / Earth Day, and I don't see any events devoted to looking at the ecological impact of the platform from which you'll be talking about ecological impact. That seems a bit like organizing a drive-a-thon for pollution reduction without examining the emissions of cars. Clearly you know cars aren't an appropriate vehicle for pollution reduction: Is Second Life an appropriate vehicle for Earth Day events?

[Update: David Alexander of www.PlanetThoughts.org, and the point of contact for the SL Environmental Council, responds below]

    You are asking good questions. My knowledge does not allow an immediate
    answer with all the specifics, since it would require some research into
    energy consumption for various activities, and a good model of usage. Just
    so you know, I am NOT set on any one path, but like many of us are trying to
    make good choices... if you convince me, I may trash my computer (and
    livelihood) tomorrow - but in my case that seems counterproductive. For
    Brazilians who previously enjoyed walking in their neighborhood, visiting
    friends, and so on, and who now turn on their computers to visit Second Life
    for hours a day, you make a good point.

    Would the computer be on anyway, without Second Life running? Mine probably
    would be, but the SL servers are a net addition to global energy use.
    Personally, I do not own land in Second Life and try to keep a low
    environmental footprint there. Now, am I less likely to be out driving
    around if I can do activities virtually? Maybe. Maybe not... I could also
    take a railroad where I am.

    Finally, and hardest to measure, is the fact that I see the Earth Day
    activities, as well as the group I organized for year-round environmental
    study and discussion, Planet Thoughts Environmental/Green group, as good
    means of spreading vital information about global warming, peak oil,
    resource depletion, species survival, and the implications of all of these.

    This last fact, educational value, is the hardest to measure. In order to
    handle global warming, we need to change many aspects of society. This will
    require good government, which we will not get without an informed
    population. If Second Life's specific environmental activities, such as
    those in which I am involved now, speed up government action by, say, three
    weeks, and make the choices more effective ones, or if these activities are
    part of a momentum that changes the next government and the resulting
    legislation in the US, what will that impact be?

    You do raise a good question... should we all drop PC use and farm the land?
    That won't work either. Without technology, such as oil-based fertilizers
    (or some equivalent) and easy global transportation, the Earth is estimated
    to support only 1/6 of its current population, meaning massive starvation,
    war, and disease in order to get to that population level, as energy sources
    dry up and as resources disappear. Perhaps information is the golden asset
    in this century. How do we measure the value of using electricity to
    enhance communication world-wide? This is a good subject, and one that
    should be looked at.
 
     
 
   
 
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  23 Comments  
 
   
 
Comment posted by TroyMcLuhan
April 18, 2007 @ 11:23 am
     
 
Your series on the ecological footprint of Second Life is journalistically weak. Instead of constantly harping on one guy's analysis, and waiting for others to do an analysis, you should go out and actively find knowledgeable people to help you understand the issue fully (i.e. investigative journalism).

From my point of view, Second Life requires computers to run. Computers require electricity, which *can* be generated with little environmental impact. If electricity isn't currently very "green", then that's not the fault of Second Life. Computers also require some raw materials, but the whole point of virtual worlds is that they replace the need for physical matter with simulated matter.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
April 18, 2007 @ 11:37 am
     
 
> you should go out and actively find knowledgeable people to help you understand the issue fully

I am already doing this. I've blogged about it since last December, posted an open letter, mailed the point of contact from the SL Enviro Council, and why I've been talking to people about these issues, through this blog and in person. That's why I raised the issue last night at Simran's talk. As best as I can tell, nobody was even talking about this publicly until I raised the issue.

It seems that most environmentalists in Second Life haven't considered Second Life's environmental footprint. Based on what I'm hearing from those I've talked to, it's a complex issue with no easy answers. If they don't understand the issue fully, how can I be expected to?

Writing this blog isn't a career for me, so I'm afraid I don't have the resources to engage in the kind of investigative journalism you would like.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Keystone Bouchard
April 18, 2007 @ 1:39 pm
     
 
I am glad to see this conversation continue to surface!

I posed a similar question to the 'Architects in SL' group a few weeks ago, which turned into quite a passionate discussion.

We all agree on the need for a solid and verified base metric of the collective and individual metaversal footprint.

My feeling is that even a small percentage of physical presence transcending into a virtual mode would result in a significant net decrease in the overall footprint.

When you factor in the reduced transportation, the embodied energy of the materials required to build physical space as well as the energy required to constantly condition the air in that space, it seems likely that a virtual model for the same space would consume far less energy in the overall scheme of things.

As the technology evolves, I think it's reasonable to assume that virtual interaction will actually become better, and more effective than certain types of physical interaction. Some might say it already is. If that's true, and we start to see a more significant shift from bricks-and-mortar dependency into a more virtual mode, I'm confident the footprint balance would surely favor virtuality.

The metrics will be critical in helping us determine where that balance point lies. It needs to be very holistic in its consideration as well. For example, I would like to be able to understand how the footprint (including commuting, architecture, individual computers, and the office server)of a physical office of 50 people compares with that of 50 people working from home, not commuting long distances, still using individual computers, but accessing a sim server instead of their traditional office server. How would the two compare?

Obviously not every kind of physical interaction lends itself to virtuality. But when I think of the magnitude of even a small percentage of physical space, on a global scale, that could be accommodated virtually, I wonder if it could be the ultimate green - to not build anything at all.

I look forward to continuing this dialogue!
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by PlanetThoughts
April 18, 2007 @ 3:22 pm
     
 
Keystone - thank you for elaborating in more detail on some of the ideas I was trying to express. These are the first steps in a necessary analysis. There are numbers out there for many of the components of resource use, such as travel (based on average distance, vehicle type, frequency, etc) and cost of running office space. But the numbers I believe have never been thoroughly integrated, not yet.

My judgment call at this time is that the sharing of information trumps the environmental cost of running computers. If we can generate more green energy, that will also help greatly.

David Alexander / PlanetThoughts Raymaker
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
April 19, 2007 @ 3:44 am
     
 
Tony, you just flew from Toronto to Austin and back, primarily to speak about Second Life-- if you're so concerned about the environmental footprint of Second Life's servers, have you given any thought about the environmental footprint of flying to conferences to *talk* about it?

(This is not an Al Gorean dig at you personally, because the subject also came up at my own SXSW panel, and while we were wondering about the carbon footprint of SL, I indirectly pointed out that most of us had flown there to have that debate.)

How far do we want to take this logic, anyway? When you consider the average two hour Internet session, we're talking ad servers, site hosting servers, video streaming servers, search engine servers, download servers, ecommerce database servers, etc. etc. I'm not an expert, but sure seems that requires as much an aggregate environmental footprint as, say, visiting a couple sims to build in a sandbox and play Tringo for a couple hours. If not much more.

While we're at it, what's the environmental footprint to make this blog post possible and available to all?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
April 19, 2007 @ 4:18 am
     
 
Surely Tony Walsh's overall environmental impact is a tiny fraction of Hamlet Linden's. There's not only the fact that he lives in Canada and just uses less energy right there; he's not paid to blog as such and isn't actually on the conference circuit that much. His blog is a pretty bare bones low production op, compared to Hamlet's. The blinding white of Hamlet's suit alone is one of the biggest strains on the Lindens' servers. They ought to turn the "bright" off that texture.

I'm often critical of what I see as Tony's facile anti-corporate stances. I'm glad he's raising this particular discussion, however, because really, the server farm required to keep SL going is evidently a very big power house, even needing special cooling functions and taking up a lot of physical space, and if you think of how the entire metaverse will work, you have to think of those server farm issues.

But having said that, I really have to challenge Tony to take this in a different direction, if possible. Linden Lab is among the most politically correct low-impact creative commonsy sort of places on the planet. I mean, it just doesn't get more lefty, politically correct, enviro-conscious blah blah than this particular set of people. So...what is it you would have them *do*? What realistically could they be doing that they aren't already doing? Use less electricity? But why them? Is their use of electricity any worse than, say, movie theaters or night clubs or hotels or any other thing in San Francisco?

Obviously if people are on SL, they aren't doing other stuff. They aren't using transportation, or going somewhere in their cars, or doing some other energy-consumptive device. It's like the cloth vs. disposable diaper harangue, six of one, half dozen of the other, yes, you fill up landfills and destroy trees and use plastic on the disposables which are a terrible energy loss, but if you move to cloth, it really will depend on your own personal ability to launder or have a laundry service that isn't burning up lots of gas picking up and delivering.

Why should SL, which uses electricity, be singled out for being hypocritical to do enviro work any more than a television station, which might cover Earth Day, or the rest of the Internet, which is busy getting all kinds of people organized around Earth Day?

Ultimately, I think you are trying to say something else with this shtick, and it really isn't about electricity. You're trying to capture the fact that all the Web2farians who are loaded down with Blackberries, Wiis, Twitter, Blogs, Internet, Second Life, video cameras vlogging their lifelogs, etc. etc. are suspect, because they all consume so much (and not just electricity) that their value-add isn't clear as a planetary issue. And you mean to say this about Westerners in general, since like all good lefties, you feel a spasm of guilt that other people don't live as well as you in the south.

I can only urge you to try to be reasonable and think this through better. Larry Summers is running around Asia being greeted everywhere by political and industrial leaders because he's stating the obvious: that global warming is a problem created by the developing world as much as (more than?) the developed world, and given the need for reduction of pollution and warming for the whole planet, the more wealthy West should be persuaded to kick in to pay for the global South to reduce warming. Not everyone will pick up that cause in just that way, but it's something you should think about.

Ultimately, you have to ask, if you complain about something this long, what is the *remedy* you seek? And I don't see one. The argumentation for or against SL can't stand or fall on its environmental impact, which will always be marginal compared to many other things in life, including giant industrial plants in Russia or China.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
April 19, 2007 @ 12:16 pm
     
 
Thanks all for your comments. In response...

quoting Keystone Bouchard: "My feeling is that even a small percentage of physical presence transcending into a virtual mode would result in a significant net decrease in the overall footprint."

I hope that's the case. I think platform-makers will have to be willing to disclose some sensitive information in order for us to figure this out. I hadn't even considered the power required to keep a server farm cool, a point Prok raised. Obviously there's hard data attached to the energy consumption here, I wonder if any platform makers would offer their operation as a case-study. If Second Life could be shown to reduce consumption, it'd be a great selling feature.

quoting PlanetThoughts Raymaker: "My judgment call at this time is that the sharing of information trumps the environmental cost of running computers."

I tend to agree, however, computers running average web pages generally consume less power than computers running 3D virtual worlds. I don't think Second Life is a great space for sharing information widely. There is no mass media in Second Life, although word-of-mouth transmission seems fairly effective.

quoting Hamlet: "...if you're so concerned about the environmental footprint of Second Life's servers, have you given any thought about the environmental footprint of flying to conferences to *talk* about it?"

Of course I've given it thought. I am not comfortable with the environmental cost of flying. Last summer my wife and I chose a car trip over a fligbht because as we understand it, cars are less costly environmentally than planes. If you must know, I have a work trip to Australia coming up, and I intend to pay for carbon emission offsetting. I wasn't aware that was a possibility until after Austin.

"How far do we want to take this logic, anyway?"

I can only speak for myself, and I'm focusing on virtual worlds for now. I'm interested to know if they reduce or increase my enviro footprint.

"While we're at it, what's the environmental footprint to make this blog post possible and available to all?"

Less than Second Life, I bet. My graphics-card doesn't run hot when browsing web pages. But I wouldn't know the relative cost, it's not my area of expertise.

@ Prokofy Neva: Prok, based on what I'm reading, there seems to be an assumption that either SL isn't environmentally-friendly, or an assumption that I'm convinced it isn't eco-friendly. I don't know if it is or it isn't, I'm asking the experts if they've considered it, what they think, and how we could go about finding out what the dealio is.

What should Linden Lab do? Well, I think there's a business-case if Second Life is found to reduce consumption/emissions. If it's the other way around, I'm sure there are plenty of environmental experts and activists out there willing to give Linden Lab free advice on how to make things better. I don't have the expertise to do so.

To bring relate this to the bigger picture you're getting at towards the end of your comment, what I'm asking for is the ability to make a conscious choice in all of my consumption. If Second Life reduces consumption/emissions, that's fantastic. If it doesn't, what is the impact, and how do I deal with it? Like choosing to drive over fly, I can at least make a decision if I have proper information.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
April 19, 2007 @ 1:20 pm
     
 
> I wouldn't know the relative cost, it's not my
> area of expertise.

Wait, so you're not even sure what the environmental cost of using the broader Internet is, as opposed to just SL? That would have been a great thing to do before bringing this topic up at all. It doesn't make sense to single out one particular Net application for criticism if we don't have a meaningful comparison to other uses, especially since we're having this conversation on a website. I strongly suspect the footprint required for a single big site like Google or YouTube, with all their thousands of servers and tens of millions of active users, far dwarfs SL. But in any case, the larger point would be more credible if we had some meaningful comparisons to begin with.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
April 19, 2007 @ 1:34 pm
     
 
"I strongly suspect..."

Wait, Hamlet, so you're not even sure what the environmental cost of using the broader Internet is, as opposed to just Google or YouTube? That would have been a great thing to do before bringing this topic up at all.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
April 19, 2007 @ 1:45 pm
     
 
Dude, I'm not the one writing open letters to environmental organizations. But if if I had, yeah, I'd probably want to do some broader research beforehand.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
April 19, 2007 @ 1:59 pm
     
 
... but now that you've brought it up, I'm genuinely curious what the actual comparisons are. A typical island owner in SL gets a few dozen visitors a day. The owner of a popular website gets a few *thousand* visitors a day. Which one causes the larger environmental footprint?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
April 19, 2007 @ 2:45 pm
     
 
Broad research is not a prerequisite for posing questions to experts. Lack of research can make the questioner look foolish, but as it happens, I've asked some good questions the experts don't have ready answers for.

With regards to your question, you are asking a variation of what I asked in my open letter. Why is it ok for you to ask that sort of question, but not ok for me to do it?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by PlanetThoughts
April 19, 2007 @ 3:14 pm
     
 
I feel that Tony's question is a fair one - and I am not sure ANYONE has a meaningful answer that takes all factors into account. But we need to examine our activities for their validity or lack of it. Even if Tony Walsh concludes that Second Life wastes resources, I can conclude the opposite, and we can respect each other. But I feel it is more the case that he wants to raise the question and make sure it gets looked at. Answering the question requires a lot of hard numbers, which I do not have. Should I know the answers, as a user of Second Life? As stated earlier, my intuitive calculation indicates it is better to stay engaged and provide influence than to save some watts and have little influence in my own technical and creative sphere. Others have a right to disagree with this judgment, hopefully with mutual respect.

David Alexander
PlanetThoughts Raymaker
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
April 19, 2007 @ 3:21 pm
     
 
"...I feel it is more the case that he wants to raise the question and make sure it gets looked at." You nailed it, thanks David. I'm interested in findings, whether positive, negative, or conflicting.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Mambo Milosz
April 21, 2007 @ 4:14 am
     
 
Having read through the comments, I am puzzled as to how anyone could possibly think SL (or There, or Yahoo, or Google) has one measurable energy footprint.

It may possibly have a measurable footprint at the production end of the chain. Linden Labs uses X servers; has a building Y m sq; and consumes Z kilowatts of electricity per day. And so on.

At the user end? There cannot possibly be a single user footprint.

If you have always-on internet connection; a computer you never switch off for reasons other than SL; own no land in SL; and walk around in your default clothing, then presumably your extra energy consumption for using SL is approximately zero.

If you have 1,000 items in your inventory your additional costs are presumably the energy usage involved in creating, maintaining and delivering the inventory to you each time you log on. This is essentially the same as the costs of any database storage, such as an additional email account.

If you have a Hotmail and a GMail acount you are presumably in about the same position as someone who has a Hotmail and an SL account.

If you rent a sim then you are in a broadly similar position to someone who rents server space at GoDaddy for their web site.

From this perspective I am genuinely not sure what "the question" is that Tony is trying to raise. Virtual worlds are, in reality, just web services that deliver 3D graphics rather than email or shopping carts.

Their primary difference (as Prokofy pointed out) is that they often keep users locked in for longer per session and therefore stop them doing other (possibly energy intensive) activities.

That means that their good/bad energy consumption is necessarily relative, which means (as far as I can see) that "the question" can only meaningfully be asked relatively: is it better spending three hours in Second Life than three hours watching television? Is it better spending four hours in SL or four hours driving to the gym, working out, and then driving to the mall? For example.

So in order to figure out whether playing Second Life makes you a bad citizen you need to figure out how you use it, and what you would be doing if you weren't using it. Which presumably will vary wildly from person to person.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
April 21, 2007 @ 12:58 pm
     
 
quoting Mambo Milosz: "...I am genuinely not sure what 'the question' is that Tony is trying to raise."

I think I've raised a few related questions since last year, but the questions in the post we are discussing here are:

1) What is the environmental impact of an expanding virtual world served from thousands of high-end computers to hundreds of thousands of high-end computers around the globe?

2) Is Second Life an appropriate vehicle for Earth Day events?

The subtext is that I'm wondering how it is that an Environmental Council of Second Life could have scheduled a series of events in Second Life without looking at the pros and cons of Second Life as a platform. Same goes for Simran Sethi, who was in Second Life to tell us how to be mindful consumers, yet hadn't been mindful of Second Life as a platform. Like David Alexander comments, my main concern is that these related issues actually get looked at. Secondarily, I'm interested to know, as a consumer, if there are any use-cases that produce a positive environmental impact: Choosing to meet virtually over driving to a real location is one obvious example. But, frankly, most events in Second Life I'm only going to because "getting there" is easy--I wouldn't even consider going if the event wasn't held in my home city.

Mambo, I agree that it's not prudent to discuss this stuff without considering related issues. However, you make presumptions in your commentary that I feel would be better expressed with hard facts--not suggesting you go out and do the research, just pointing out that you wouldn't need to presume if you knew what the actual data looked like. I don't intend this as a jab against you, but at least in Nick Carr's avatars=Brazilians post, he had some numbers to work with (not everyone agreed with his math, or his numbers, though).

"So in order to figure out whether playing Second Life makes you a bad citizen you need to figure out how you use it, and what you would be doing if you weren't using it. Which presumably will vary wildly from person to person."

I mostly agree here--obviously usage varies on a per-situation basis. But it's not just about whether we are "bad citizens" or not. It's also about just considering the relative impact of one's pursuits. Not even thinking about it makes me more of a "bad citizen" than not. It's like my upcoming flight to Oz--I thought about the negative impact of the flight, and at least I am going to pay to offset the carbon. Not a perfect solution, but better than being ignorant about it.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Mambo Milosz
April 22, 2007 @ 7:25 am
     
 
Hi,

Let me start by saying that I sympathise with your raising of the issues, and I am not trying to argue that they shouldn't be raised. I am trying to suggest that they need to be phrased differently before they can become questions that can actually be answered.

Without wishing to come across like Captain Pedant "What is the environmental impact of an expanding virtual world served from thousands of high-end computers to hundreds of thousands of high-end computers around the globe?" is a summary of the issue you are exploring (phrased syntactically in a question-like form) and not an answerable question.

I say this because it seems to me that your statement/question immediately raises the question: compared to what?

Let me give a couple of examples to clarify what I mean.

Philip Rosendale claims SL is (or will be) a platform. I read somewhere that IBM have begun to use it to hold meetings between dispersed groups of employees. One answerable question would therefore be: what is the difference in the environmental impacts of holding meetings between X people inside SL, and holding the same meetings using videoconferencing software?

Dell Island and the recent Toyota promotion point to similar questions: what is the difference in the environmental impacts of running a marketing campaign in SL and running a campaign with the same goals in print or broadcast media?

At the point of production, Linden Labs is a company running a server farm to deliver a service over the net. So is GMail. An answerable question might be: what is the annual energy footprint of an average SL user compared to an average GMail user?

At the point of delivery people are using SL instead of doing something else (videoconferencing, playing golf, whatever) and the question I think we should be asking focuses on the user's activities and not on SL. For example: what is the relative energy footprint of playing in SL for three hours a night as opposed to buying golf clubs, driving to the course and then using facilities that themselves require energy-using maintenance?

At root, I think the question you are asking is too big to be answered, and needs to be broken down into answerable comparisons.

You may disagree :)

Cheers
Mambo
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by PlanetThoughts
April 22, 2007 @ 7:37 am
     
 
I must disagree with you Tony. You stated "The subtext is that I'm wondering how it is that an Environmental Council of Second Life could have scheduled a series of events in Second Life without looking at the pros and cons of Second Life as a platform." How can you assume that? As I stated in my first replies to you, I did think about that - and I felt that the value of sharing the information on environment in a more compelling medium, and meeting people in a way that was otherwise not possible, outweighs the electronic costs at this time. Right now the critical factor for our world is to start and continue making good decisions on environmental and energy issues - and this requires not only a few experts, but the broad population to be informed. Through Second Life, I have managed, through the good will of many, to combine the efforts of activists, scientists, and others to share their information. This I have never seen done on the "old" Internet.

Did I have a numeric value for the cost vs value of Second Life vs Internet as a platform? No, and no one does. I agree that somes numbers exist, but no one has calculated a value for sharing compelling factual and visual information with strangers and colleagues world-wide, and how that compares to a difficult-to-measure trade-off of server heat vs travel time to other forms of meeting. So no, I do not have a hard number to justify this action, but my human brain, still a better judge of complex situations than the best computer, long ago decided that sharing information and creating alliances and friendships of right-thinking (read, environmentally aware) people, has a very high value, and should be pursued.

I certainly support your asking this and related questions - but please be careful about making assumptions about others' activities. My interpretation is that this was a careless slip in language on your part, and I support the main direction of your inquiry. In fact, after Earth Day I will be asking the climate scientist I know best to share any knowledge he has on this kind of modeling, and will share it with you and your readers.

Take care, and have a nice Sunday.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by PlanetThoughts
April 22, 2007 @ 7:41 am
     
 
Let me modify slightly one statement above - there ARE exchanges on the environment on the Internet - sites like peakoil.com, for example, have experts sharing thoughts publicly. However, the pace of exchange, and the largely anonymous, non-personal type of the interchange, seems to me (and others) to penetrate our normal way of living less effectively than a full visual and textual interaction, almost on a personal level, such as in Second Life. At this time, it is and perhaps must remain a judgment call about what is effective - maybe all these avenues should be pursued, so that we have the greatest chance of making the upcoming, very major and sometimes uncomfortable decisions, in the right way.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Ace Albion
April 23, 2007 @ 5:58 am
     
 
I once got into one of those internet discussions about fuel consumption many years ago. They were all saying "don't use the car for short journeys" but I said well it just matters how much fuel you're burning a week, and if all your journeys are short then you're less of an environmental impact than someone who chose to live further from the workplace so they'd have a nicer view, and to justify their own mileage (a necessity born of their own choice to live out of town).

It transpired that the person so strongly arguing against car usage, actually used more fuel per year traveling to places to do pro-cycling talks etc, than I did for everything I did. I always drove small cars anyway, he lugged his bicycle to the nice routes on a big estate car. We didn't even get into the energy cost of production for a "clean new car"- for a small hatchback something like the equivalent of 20,000 miles of fuel in construction energy use- may as well drive the old nasty car another 20k right?

Kilowatts per hour doesn't matter. Miles per gallon (imperial or US) doesn't matter. All that matters is how much energy one person burns in a year doing their thing. So if someone is jetting around to hold conferences to chide people for having their graphics cards run up electricity on SL, then that is the height of hypocrisy. Maybe they should hold awareness events virtually instead, where they can reach global audiences without the energy consumption of real world travel.

Oh wait, that's supposed to be the ironic energy wasting exercise, right?

I'm waiting for the bright spark to hook up all the exercise machines to dynamos. Maybe we can get human hamsters to fuel SL.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
April 23, 2007 @ 10:01 am
     
 
PlanetThoughts, with respect, I don't think Second Life is a very good information sharing tool. I feel that message-boards, chatrooms, blogs, and other "old" internet tools have been facilitating positive social change and professional collaboration successfully for years.

If I understand you correctly, you feel that "old" internet tools aren't as personal as Second Life, which you feel facilitates greater visual and textual interaction. It's difficult to disagree, since everyone uses and experiences technology in different ways.

Personally, I feel that more often than not, Second Life actually detracts from productivity due to usability issues, technical glitches, and most importantly, due to the enormous amount of noise (such as visual, audio, positional) versus signal generated in the space.

In my view, Second Life is worse than most "old" internet tools--it isn't a good replacement for Amazon.com, for example. SL seems better for dealing with small organized group collaboration where visual presentation is important, and if that's how you use it, then I think you're barking up the right tree. But if the intention was to reach as many eyeballs as possible, not so much.

In hindsight, I guess what spurred my letter to your group is that I felt your web site didn't explain why you feel Second Life is a good platform for environmental discussions. It wasn't apparent that you'd considered if SL has an environmental impact, or other factors, such as Second Life's relative usefulness compared to other platforms.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by PlanetThoughts
April 26, 2007 @ 4:19 am
     
 
Continuing on... here is an article I wrote with a few thoughts on Earth Day as well as the topic you have raised.

Earth Day, Second Life, and electricity use

In addition, I will try to gather more information on this topic, but it is sure to take many, many months to gather real, solid information about server energy use per avatar and per event, computer energy use per home/office user, alternative activities and their energy use, and the value of information will always be very, very hard to measure and compare.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
April 30, 2007 @ 12:06 pm
     
 
Thanks, I'll post a follow-up article as soon as I get the time, from a skim of your blog post it looks like the event reached a lot of avatars. Congrats!
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
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I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
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Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
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Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
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It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
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The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
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Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
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