Insights

The environmental weight of data

“Information is physical,” Melvin Vopson tells me. “The fact that information is physical goes back to much older studies. What I did in 2019, I asked myself a question: If a bit of information is physical, and you can detect that energy associated with the bit of information when you erase it, what happens to that energy when the inform... Read More »

The toxic culture of the quick win

Management wants some quick wins, so we don’t have time to do proper analysis. We’d like to but, you know, unless you can show us some low-hanging fruit, we wouldn’t be able to embrace your approach. A Polish person once told me a joke about communist Poland. There was a big building site and everyone was working at a nice, leisurely p... Read More »

Keeping all data is no longer an option

Data production is growing at around 25% per year. Humans produced about 60 zettabytes of data in 2020, and Statista estimates that over 2,000 zettabytes of data will be produced by 2035. This is a wholly unsustainable growth rate and it will have cataclysmic impacts on the environment if it is not radically reduced. The culture of inf... Read More »

90% of data is crap

90% of data produced and stored is not simply useless; it gets in the way of useful data. Waste data makes it harder and harder to find and make use of good data. John Booth gave me a great example of how just because you can collect loads and loads of data, it doesn’t mean that you should. “We work with a couple of organizations and s... Read More »

We don’t have data centers. We have data dumps

I have yet to meet a medium-to-large organization that knows how much data they have. I have yet to meet one that knows how many computers or servers they have. And with the Cloud, the problem is getting totally, absolutely, infinitely worse. We are sleepwalking into a data crisis and the consequences already are very substantial. They w... Read More »

The true and total cost of free

Much of the digital world is built on lies. A search is not free. A tweet is not free. Facebook is not free. Packing and shipping are not free. Every years, billions of trees are cut down for packaging. Every year, Amazon uses enough plastic to smother the Earth. Delivery trucks cost. We return four times more bought online than in store... Read More »

The crypto double scam

You come home one evening to find your house almost burned to the ground. Someone is standing outside with a can of “organically sourced, sustainable green diesel”. They hand you a certificate for “One burned down house”. It’s a new currency, they say. If you trade well you may be able to turn it into two burned down houses and perhaps e... Read More »

Data is out of control: the story of COVID and airborne transmission

Data is out of control. Content is out of control. In fact, data and content were never in control for the vast majority of organizations. Content management was always a joke. Data management was always a joke. At best, we have data and content publishing and storage. Only a tiny fraction of organizations that I have dealt with in almos... Read More »

Pat and Nuala Geoghegan’s farm

Pat and Nuala Geoghegan are farmers from Askeaton, County Limerick. As the crow flies or the wind-based red dust pollution drifts, Askeaton is about eight kilometers (five miles) from Aughinish. Aughinish comes from the Irish word eachinis, meaning horse island. It was an island but is now a peninsula, jutting out into the Shannon estuar... Read More »

‘Clean’ and ‘green’ aluminum

Alumina is vital for modern, technology-driven living, and since 1970, there has been an almost 600% increase in its mining. Between 2000 and 2021, global yearly primary production has almost trebled, going from 25,000 thousand metric tons to 67,000 thousand metric tons, according to the International Aluminum Institute. While recycling ... Read More »