January 22, 2007

Nick Carr pushes the back of the envelope

Nick Carr, who seems not to like computers very much, did a back-of-the-envelope calculation to show that the server load for a Second Life avatar consumes more electric power than the average Brazilian human. But I think he made one little error in his calculation. He used, for the total population of Second Life, the average number of avatars concurrently online.

Now, maybe Second Life has a very small number of active members, almost all of whom average many hours online per day. In that case, Carr’s comparison may have some validity, especially when we also consider the power expended by client PCs.

Then again, maybe he’s off by, say, an order of magnitude. Given that he cited 10-15,000 concurrent users half a year after Linden Labs was reported to have 250,000 or so registered users, I’d make that more than a “maybe.” What’s more, while his point is cute, even if accurate it wouldn’t prove much, since Second Life is a notorious processing power hog anyway.


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