Green Web Hosting

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Matt Cutts' blog recently had a post about how to reduce the volume of junk postal (snail) mail that you receive , which seemed like a cool thing for someone with a readership as large as his to post about.  Of course, the real answer to junk mail is to change postal rates so that it is not economical to annoy people and damage the environment with junk mail (and perhaps this kind of change would also have the benefit of forcing some of the companies that currently rely on interruption marketing rather than innovation to step up their game).  In the meantime, though, anything that we as individuals can do is important because, aside from the annoyance, the environmental cost of  junk mail  is quite high.

Matt's suggestions got me thinking about steps iData can take to be greener, and one obvious step came to mind, namely to research and advocate green Web hosting companies.  People often don't think much about the power required to run Web servers (and more importantly to power the air conditioning units that data centers run), but it is significant.  Since most greenhouse gas emissions are from power plants, reducing energy consumption in any way we can is really important.  So, over the next several months, we'll be looking into Green Web hosting, and we'll let you know what we find.  In the meantime, here are some resources:

By the way, thinking about green Web hosting got me thinking about whether people really care about the environmental impact of the choices they make in their daily lives, which gave me an excuse to use Google Trends to do a little research about what people are searching for.  If you haven't played with Google Trends, you should.  It is a service that lets you see among other things the relative frequency of different search terms (i.e. Yankees versus Red Sox).  The most interesting result I saw in comparing various environment-related terms was the relative frequency of searches for "electric car" versus "cheap gas" (see the screenshot below).  It seems we hear from the media all the time how ordinary people are not concerned about conservation, they just want cheap gas so we should focus on more drilling (even though drilling to solve our current energy problems is, according to the US Energy Information Administration,  not a realistic option ).  

But guess what --- people search more frequently for information about electric cars (red line) than they do for cheap gas (blue line), which suggests to me that maybe your average Web surfer is a lot smarter than many in the media and in politics, who often suggest short sighted and unrealistic solutions when what people want is real, thoughtful leadership.  This impression is further borne out by the lower graph, displaying the volume of news stories about both terms. The conventional wisdom is that news stories drive search volume, but in this case you see that the reverse may be true  --- the most recent spike in the volume of stories about electric cars has come after a sustained rise in the number searches, suggesting that the media is belatedly catching on to people's interest in electric cars.

Posted by: Mark Reichard at 6:28 AM
Tags: Google


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