Thursday, February 15, 2007

Criminalizing Waste

Are we on the brink of defining waste as a crime? The signs are everywhere that we are, and we will. Simply, waste is something that which we will not with up put. Anymore.

The signs from the IT industry are ominous. Let's start with Joel Johnson, former writer for Gizmodo, who uses his yearly quota of vile invective blasting his former readers for buying every new gadget that comes out. It's a strange speech; he repeatedly refers to his former audience as 'assholes' and 'retards', and coming from a guy that spent two years pushing this stuff, that seems a bit extreme. Then there's the EU ban on profligate energy products and the Energy using Products directive, both of which affect a wide spectrum of IT gear. These are bills that are specifically designed to criminalize the waste of energy, including a large part of the energy used to fuel computing. How about the proposed ban on incandescent bulbs in California? No more lights?

It won't be the first time it this issue has been addressed - see poster on right that supported the rationing of goods in WWII. I can only wonder what will happen when there is a quota placed of the number of laptops placed into service each year; will people fight over them to get the latest and greatest? Or will they realize that the strategic edge on IT is completely gone, and they should destroy IT as we know it, outsource everything, and start using software-as-a-service. Should we mandate telecommuting two days a week, under the guise that driving is criminally wasteful and photons should be moved, not people? Chop off peoples' mouse-moving hands?

Except for the hand chopping, I personally don't think this is so crazy. In fact, I think it is necessary. And with computer energy use threatening to increase another 75 percent by 2010, seems like riots might be in the cards - the robots vs. the workers, as it were.

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