I'm moderating a panel with leaders from Greenpeace and Akamai on the internet's environmental impact at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at the Sustainable Brands conference. You can check out the full program schedule at the link below.
With the internet using an ever-increasing amount of our electricity—only a small amount of which comes from renewable sources—and its users numbering three and a quarter billion, its environmental impact is significant, more than that of the airline industry. Large tech companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook have led the charge toward powering the internet with renewable energy, but that is only part of a much larger picture. As we work toward a more sustainable future, efficiency and usability will sit alongside renewables as key strategies for building a cleaner, greener internet. This book will help design teams incorporate sustainability principles into their workflows to quickly create more efficient digital products and services that are better for users and better for the planet.
O'Reilly will release the first two chapters in January 2016 with two chapters to follow each month thereafter. Those who purchase the advanced release will automatically receive the final product once it is complete. I have committed to researching and writing the best possible content on the topic of internet sustainability so this process helps ensure a higher caliber title. O'Reilly is the first publisher with which I've worked that crowdsources portions of the editorial process in the name of improving title quality. It is a unique approach that other publishers could likely learn a lot from.
Finally, the regal fellow gracing the cover is a Jeweled Lacerta Lizard, a protected native of the Iberian Peninsula. O'Reilly Media has been placing animals on its title covers since the 1980s to raise awareness of the plights of wild species.
I've begun work on a new book for O'Reilly Media that will be released in early Summer 2016. Tentatively titled Designing for Sustainability: A Guide to Building Greener Digital Products and Services, the book will focus on how digital design teams can build online products and services that are optimized for users, devices, and energy efficiency. The internet has a massive carbon footprint and releases over 830M tons of CO2 annually, more than the airline industry. This new book outlines a set of practices that can be applied to the process of creating more sustainable websites or mobile apps in several key areas: performance optimization, findability, usability, and green hosting. The book's content is based on the work Mightybytes has done with our website sustainability tool Ecograder and our sustainable web design blog series.
One of the first tasks is to work with the O'Reilly team to choose the book's cover animal. Since the 1980s, O'Reilly Media has placed animal illustrations on its title covers to raise awareness for the plight of wild animals around the planet. According to O'Reilly Director of Brand Management Edie Freedman, "working with the animal engravings has made me much more aware of what is happening to our environment. Many of the animals that appear on our covers are endangered…Perhaps our use of animal images on our covers will encourage people to work harder to save the species that are still sharing the planet with us."
Given the book's environmental perspective, it's easy to see why O'Reilly was a natural fit to be its publisher. Will the new book cover feature the nearly endangered American Pika (which gets my vote, though it has been used for an O'Reilly title before)? The extinct Golden Toad? Or will it be something else, like the endangered Balkan Lynx in silhouette above? Only Edie knows.
The internet isn’t quite the green medium that everyone thinks it is. Every app we open, every tweet we share requires electricity, and very little of that electricity—less than 15% in the U.S.—comes from renewable sources. When you consider that over 3 billion people use the internet every day, that’s a lot of electricity!
In this TEDx Talk presented at Bentley University and based on the content of a new book I’m working on, I discuss how the internet has amassed a growing annual carbon footprint of 830M tons—more than the airline industry—and what we can do about it.
Each section covers proven design strategies and content techniques that can be used to create websites that meet business and marketing objectives and drive measurable success.
This was also my first time working with a co-author: the incomparable Kate Eyler-Werve, author of O’Reilly’s Civic Apps Competition Handbook. Kate is a great collaborator and really helped keep the book on track throughout the 9+ months that we vollied words and ideas back and forth.