Digital Clutter

Digital ClutterI read an interesting statistic the other day and it got me to thinking about all the clutter thee is stored digitally. The statistic is that there have been over 220 billion photos uploaded to Facebook. I think one of my sisters is responsible for about half of them. When you consider that most photos uploaded exceed a megabyte in size, and if you multiply that by 220 billion it becomes a number I don’t even know what the name is. When you add the other main photo sites such as Google, Tumblr, Pinterests, etc the number becomes incomprehensible. And that is just the beginning.

All those photographs are not just floating around in the so-called cloud. they are sitting on a storage platform somewhere. Each storage platform will consist of servers and raw storage. In August of 2012 it was estimated that Face Book was running 180,000 servers. Add to that all servers in all cloud storage platforms and again you get a number so staggering that it boggles the imagination. What is even more mind-boggling is the amount of energy required to keep such an infrastructure running. Next time you complain about your Duke bill be grateful you aren’t running 180,000 servers in your basement. The primary source for generating electricity in the United States  s coal. I mention this so that the tree-huggers who want us to depend on alternate energy sources realize that the computers and cell phones and tablets that use everyday are totally dependent on the very storage that requires the vast amount of energy used. And it is done cheaply because coal is still cheap. But that is another article for another time.

Another mind-boggling concept is the Web. In 1992 there were approximately 50 web sites on the World Wide Web. Probably that many have been put up while you have been reading this article. I don’t know the statistics but it is incomprehensible to try  to imagine how may servers and storage platforms are required to support all of that. Servers and storage are also required to support and maintain the web. Even the most basic website has to reside on a server/storage combination somewhere. And basic websites are not very common anymore. Each website contains content that must be stored. The more elaborate the website, the more storage required. The number of sites plus the amount of storage required plus the amount of electricity needed produces a figure to large to imagine.

These are only two examples of what is causing digital clutter. Add to that all the infrastructure required for other types of initiatives such as cloud based storage not associated with a website or social media site and the number grows even larger. Most of the digital clutter never goes away. Even defunct websites probably only cannot be reached. The supporting files are still out there somewhere. . . . just in case. I wonder how many dead people still have Facebook pages?When was the last time you deleted unnecessary files on your computer?

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

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Tom Lind

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  1. Anthony LindAugust 24, 2013

    Thats deep, I might have a panick attack from all that.. but seriously that is a lot of clutter. But what can they resolve by cleaning it up.

  2. ScottyAugust 24, 2013

    If they would stop trying to KEEP it ALL forever, for unknown reason, other than to eventually take over the world, they could lessen their draw on energy, and unless an option is given, such as save, all this crap is deleted off the servers. Being a non-techie, that’s what I think.

  3. Scott LadriganAugust 25, 2013

    how man backups do the have

  4. judy aka judi aka judithAugust 31, 2013

    Super interesting! I never thought about digital clutter especially as pertains to energy. I’m still trying to get a handle on physical clutter. BEING a non techie I really like this blog!


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