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Keep it Simple!
The Free Range electrohippies <simple> campaign is intended to highlight the increasing use of energy and resources to deliver Internet services because of the increasing complexity and energy density of on-line services.
The <simple> campaign concentrates on the way in which the bloat of web pages/services and the increasing use of computer-generated content is driving-up the levels of data traffic, and as a result, the amount of power that both server and client machines consume. One survey, the deatils of which were published in The Register in April 2008, suggested that the average size of a web page has more than trebled since 2003, and that number of 'objects' (additional files/images that must be loaded) per page has nearly doubled.
This trend isn't just an issue of clogging bandwidth with needless data; all this extra energy drives resource depletion and carbon emissions (in October last year the BBC's Newsnight programme had a feature on this issue you can watch the video on-line). Although environmentalists might get all fired-up about the carbon emissions from aviation, those same environmentalists are often blogging and Youtube-ing their protests on systems that, according to a 2008 study by Gartners, are emitting just as much carbon as the aircraft or new airports that they are protesting against.
For some time there has been an acknowledgement of the problems of the ever-increasing size of software code generally called software bloat. In fact a trend has been found, now called Writh's Law, which states that the often talked about benefits of faster computer hardware is being negated by the equally significant scale of the code growth meaning that we don't actually receive the benefits of greater computer power, we just burn more energy and release more carbon to do the same operations!
These same problems can be observed in the recent development of the Web, and is clearly a major factor in the development of "Web 2.0" systems because of the way in which dynamic content is generated. In contrast the FRAW site has been developed along completely the opposite model it follows minimalist principles by using wholly static content and highly optimised web code and graphics in order to reduce file sizes and bandwidth demands. Where databases are used, these are used off-line and the programs we use generate static pages for serving the content on-line.
It is clear, from many sources, that the present model of how the Internet is developing is wholly unsustainable. The <simple> campaign will be launching formally (following our own web re-design) sometime this year with a "media blitz" that is, we're going to be blitzing the media's bloated content as the first issue in the campaign. The research on this topic will be completed shortly at which point we'll load all the information onto this page.