A few months ago, Steve suggested I write a paper for a particular conference. He even gave me a topic. Brat that I am, I thought about for a few minutes and then flat out said no to that topic but thought of another one suitable for the conference. I decided to write on the ethics and legality of reCAPTCHA. While outside the scope of my academic oeuvre, I figured that even if my paper got rejected, it would still make for an interesting “Random musings” blog post. But it hasn’t come to that. Instead, you can look for it at PST 2012 in a couple of months. At seven pages (and possibly eight after further additions), this is longer than my typical blog post. You might want to get your favourite hot beverage ready before diving in.
I thought that, as a reasonably quick reader and a user of a laptop that sips 8W of power while in use ((With the screen turned low and with wi-fi turned off.)), it would almost always make sense for me to work with content electronically (To Print or Not to Print?). While sitting in a meeting, it struck me that, on an almost daily basis, there are pages of text with which I spend more than an hour. I was, of course, thinking about writing my depth paper.
Update: So it looks like my estimates for the carbon dioxide emissions were way off. I guess iPad’s components must be particularly carbon-unfriendly per unit mass; if I had to speculate, it’s due to a higher component weight to frame weight than on the computers considered here. Updated results at the end of this post; you can follow along using the original text, substituting in the new values for manufacturing. It looks like my estimates for power adapter efficiency and power consumption are pretty much spot on, though.
His reasoning is that it will help him pay for “content” without damaging the Earth –specifically, he’s talking about reading the newspaper, magazines, and e-books in the iPad, instead of buying them in paper version.
I suspected, and told him, that on the whole this would probably mean an *increase* in environmental damage, rather than a decrease. He’s not convinced.
Jorge then adds the question that prompted the creation of this blog: “Who is right?”
So will buying an iPad to replace print materials reduce carbon emissions or just result in more iWaste?
During the summer, I was musing on Vannevar Bush’s ideas presented in his paper As We May Think. Having the attention span of a… where was I? Oh, yes. So my mind wandered to thinking about by how much our carbon footprint could be reduced by switching to a paperless office. The answer surprised me and I mentioned it idly to my research supervisor, Steve Easterbrook. He suggested I publish it on a blog and we discussed the creation of a software tool to help present the argument more clearly. I’ve finally worked up the nerve to start up this blog to do the former and the latter is in the works. So here is my first post detailing how much carbon dioxide is emitted by reading a page of text on a computer instead of printing it out. Ladies and gentlemen, start your stopwatches!