The Environmental Cost of Data

Made by Gabriel Alvarez

The goal of The Environmental Cost of Data, was to raise awareness amongst my peers regarding the environmental impact of our daily interactions with the web.

Created: February 2nd, 2022

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Intention

The goal of The Environmental Cost of Data, was to raise awareness amongst my peers regarding the environmental impact of our daily interactions with the web.

By asking questions like “What keeps the web running?” or “Did you know that one minute of scrolling through Instagram's news feed is similar to driving a carbon fueled vehicle for 13 meters?” I was able to draw connections between data and energy consumption, and present them to the class. 

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The Environmental Cost of Data
Gabriel Álvarez - https://youtu.be/KAgjqvT_x38
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Outcome

In terms of the feedback collected, the video did a fair job at framing the problem and using driving distance as a concrete way of communicating abstract concepts like Gigabytes (GB) and grams of carbon dioxide (gEqCO2). During the debrief session one classmate expressed surprise generated by the effects that “trivial” actions, like scrolling or sharing photos, can have on the environment.

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Process

The first step on the investigation was to identify a hidden aspect of technology that could become visible through a design artifact, in order to do so the class began brainstorming via Zoom chat. From my point of view, the main threads that emerged from this exercise were: sustainability, privacy, and the emotional components of human-computer interaction.

I decided to follow the sustainability path because I believe that in trying to satisfy an ever growing market, which is constantly looking for experiences and meaning, the technology industry has forgotten about the planet.

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Reflection

In general, I am satisfied with the outcome of the video based on the reactions and discussions that followed. Although, if I were to continue working on this project, I would invest more time trying out different ways to show the data in a more interactive manner.

Another opportunity for future projects is to actively use the “spooky” framework, as a means to creatively explore the otherworldly qualities of ubiquitous computing and keep questioning how humans (and societies at large) interact with technology.

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48-528 Responsive Mobile Environments - Spooky Technology

· 9 members

As part of this project-based course, we’ll get hands-on with emerging technologies, concepts and applications in the internet of things through a critical socio-technical lens. Over it’s 14-weeks,...more


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The goal of The Environmental Cost of Data, was to raise awareness amongst my peers regarding the environmental impact of our daily interactions with the web.