Friday, September 01, 2006

it´s the infrastructure, stupid...

See, now i keep harping on about this (more so in my talks than this blog) is that the OA scholarly communications camp needs to work with, & add their weight to the bandwidth camp when we want to speak of OA in Africa (to date these two "worlds" exist in separate spheres). See, we cannot separate the two when speaking of OA in Africa, or in the developing world, but especially in Africa. What we also cannot do is wait for the b/w camp to play catch-up while we twiddle thumbs and watch how the rest of the world "goes OA". No, with the little b/w we do have (this "littledom" is due to lack of physical infrastructure and/or the exhorbitant cost of connectivity in Africa) we still need to "go OA".

But, so thinking along the lines of the importance of infrastructure, the following caught my eye in a recent issue of Fortune magazine (dated 28 August) We won´t go into the problem with my Fortune subscription since having moved to Spain. It is a long story, but suffice to say that the folks at the subs HQ in Amsterdam seem to have extreme difficulty with the Spanish language and getting the address format right, etc. Okay, so, the article "The future of computing (part one)". Some excerpts:

"Most people don´t think of it this way, but the Information Age is being built on an infrastructure as imposing as the factories and mills of yore....To handle this change [of software becoming webified], Internet companies are building their own [data] centers..."

And what data centers need are:

  • ground, acres and acres of it
  • electricity, not only to operate the servers but also to cool all those processors chugging away (e.g. "...for every dollar a company spends to power a typical server, it spends another dollar on a/c [air-conditioning] to keep it cool.")
  • water, for cooling purposes, as increasingly alternative means are being explored to keep server farms cool.
moral of the story?

  1. even in the information age, we come back to the same basic ingredients for the infrastructure needed at base.
  2. seriously, where does this leave Africa in the race to be part of the Info Age?

greater moral of the story?

we are running low on fossil fuels, and water, on the planet (among other things, admittedly). the info age was supposed to signifiy a reduction in the demand for either of the two. instead, demand is only increasing. so, where does that leave us, after all?


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