Anyone could be forgiven for believing the internet is infinite. It certainly seems to act that way. Searches can be veritable rabbit holes, cloud storage costs less than a coffee and without even asking it to, your smart phone takes a duplicate photo just in case you wanted a slightly higher resolution. But just as real clouds are still made up of very real water molecules, the cloud into which we are uploading all of this data still takes up physical space in data centres and the reality could be worse than the paper problems that we were trying to solve in the first place. For the sake of good business, our future environment and the wellbeing of the end user, it is time to start asking: how do we sustainably store this information and make space for more?
When someone says digital waste, the first thing that comes to mind is often the hardware itself. We probably still associate digital waste with images of mountains of old phones, ancient desk monitors and endless lengths of cords like out of a post-apocalyptic war against the machines. While the endless piles of plastic, metals and high-power batteries is still problematic, it is the digital wasteland that is now starting to grow to exponential heights.
Where once filing cabinets and storage were meticulously tracked and intricately ordered, we have now entered a new kind of over-indulgence in cyberspace. The vastness of digital memory has allowed us to believe that there is no end to the amount of data storage that we have access to. Data centres that house all of the existing information have grown faster than the sustainability practices that are required to keep them green and the world is still uploading more information.
A lot of this has to do with the speed at which this data is disseminated. It certainly lends to the illusion of limitless storage. Information, money and communication that once took days, months or even years to travel around the world can be transmitted instantaneously, making it seem almost like magic. As we move faster, we continue to create and as business grows, so does data. While economic growth is the gold standard of progress, it is worth considering that there may be overgrowth that still needs to be trimmed. Data control is not just about greenscaping the digital world, it will also ensure that these speeds can be maintained and maintaining security over the data that we do hold.
The fact is, we do have the power to manage our data storage. We have the capacity to be diligent in deleting emails, trimming the attachments kept in our customer software and sifting through the files for unused information.
The question is no longer about whether we can but how we can do it with maximum efficiency. Enter a new age of software. Fasade is just another branch on the growing tree of digital expansion. It’s not just about greening our digital space, but filtering information as it is created, building businesses practices that will support sustainability and protecting the information that needs to be kept.
If you want to prioritise optimal growth capacity, it should be part of your IT roadmap to promote healthy and secure maintenance of data. If careful and structured digital waste disposal is not made a priority, then we may find ourselves overcrowded with carbon-heavy data centres and drowning in information, and if that happens, then the machines will have already won.