SPAM – how much CO2?

I have always been intrigued with the Carbon footprint of the IT culture that we are building. I have found that people make the assumption that things that are free, are also free in environmental terms too. This is clearly illogical, but people somehow miss that connection.Blackpool Prom Scuptures at Sunset

McAfee have recently undertaken a study that highlights the massive overhead, in CO2 terms, of SPAM:

The average business email user is responsible for
131 kg of CO2 per year in email-related emissions,
and 22 percent of that figure is spam-related. This
spam energy is equivalent to the emissions that
would result if every business email user burned
an extra 3.3 gallons of gasoline annually.

The energy required annually to create, send,
receive, store and view spam adds up to more
than 33 billion kWh, approximately equivalent to
four gigawatts of baseload power generation or
the power provided by four large new coal power
plants. ICF estimates spam-related emissions for all
email users at an annual total of 17 million metric
tons of CO2 or 0.2 percent of the total global CO2
emissions — a number equivalent to emissions
from approximately 1.5 million U.S. homes.

The scary part of this report is the thought that 52% of all of this energy usage is consumed by end users viewing and deleting SPAM.

I’m sure that most people regard SPAM as a nuisance, but I don’t think that many people regard it as a ecological pest also.

Online connections worth £365 a month?

According to an article by Maggie Shiels over on the BBC your online connects could be earning you an extra £365/month.Eden Project Fun

But before anyone goes totally negative on the whole online friends routine, a study by IBM and MIT [460Kb PDF] has discovered that there is money to be made from those buddies.The IBM collaboration with MIT’s Sloan School of Management tracked the electronic communications of over 7,000 volunteers for three years. The aim of the work was to put a dollar amount on the effect of those electronic and virtual relationships.

Researchers found that having strong connections to managers (yes, sucking up to the boss) can boost the bottom line. On average, it adds up to $548 (£365) in extra revenue a month.

She’s referring to this research (the link in the BBC blog post wasn’t quite right when I read it).

It’s quite a long report and I have to admit that I haven’t had chance to read it, but can it really be that simple. The conclusion of the report says this:

By analyzing one of the largest organizational electronic communication networks ever collected and combining it with detailed performance data, we show initial evidence that not only are network topology characteristics associated with productivity, human capital of inside one‘s social network and tie strength to the appropriate human capital are also positively correlated with information worker productivity. We find that having strong links to management is associated with higher revenue generation, but simply knowing many managers and have minimal correlations with performance. This demonstrates the importance of distinguishing one‘s social network not only by its network topologies but also the content of the network such as the cumulative human capital inside the network and the strength of ties connecting to this type of capital.

In my really simplistic words – relationship with your management network can lead to higher earnings. I suspect that for many people that is instinctive. If you get on well with those within your management structure you will go further. If you do a really good job, but are obnoxious then you won’t go as far. Simply adding your manager to your Facebook buddy list doesn’t, for me, constitute a relationship.

Network intelligence (my phrase) is going to be an important skill in coming years, online community adds to the networking capabilities, but also requires a higher level of network intelligence.

Is there a business opportunity here that I’m missing, perhaps “NI” training could be a real earner.

Update: Business Week also covered the same research.

Ignore Everybody – and other quotations

As you may have noticed I really like quotations, I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s because they are nice and short and I don’t really like reading anything too long.

I really like Hugh’s take on a set of quotes that come from the chapter titles of his new book “Ignore Everybody”:

Ignore Everybody

I particularly like the line “Everybody has there own private Mount Everest they were put on earth to climb”.

New design for this site

For those of you who are reading this through a some kind of Reader you might be interested to know that I’ve been tweaking the design on this site. Wisley in the AutumnFor the rest of you, you’ve probably already noticed.

There was a bit of thought behind it:

  • 3 Columns – I like 3 column designs, most people have a wide enough screen these days to make the most of it.
  • Simplicity – I like designs that are very simple, but still functional. I’m not a huge fan of designs with loads of bling. I know that this slightly contradicts the previous point but it’s a balancing act.
  • Photographs – I wanted something that would showcase some of my favourite photographs. Pictures are also a great way of engaging with people, but the skill is creating a design that allows this without it being gaudy.
  • Fonts – I don’t like serif fonts. Don’t know why particularly, I just don’t.

I’ve still got some tweaking to do.

Let me know what you think.

Make screens a priority

How long do you think that you spend looking at some form of screen every day?Wisley in the Autumn

Television? Laptop? Mobile phone?

According to the New York Times it’s likely to be longer than you think:

In fact, adults are exposed to screens — TVs, cellphones, even G.P.S. devices — for about 8.5 hours on any given day, according to a study released by the Council for Research Excellence on Thursday. TV remains the dominant medium for media consumption and advertising, the study found. The data suggests that computer usage has supplanted radio as the second most common media activity.(Print ranks fourth.)

That’s right 8.5 hours a day.

Even excluding TVs that’s a lot of time, spent on screens at work. So why do we spend so little on the actual screen itself? It’s the primary tool that we use.

I’m constantly amazed when I go around offices to see the way that people are using and abusing the screen that they use all day, every day.

I’ve already written about multiple monitors. If I could communicate one thing to people that I know would radically change their productivity it would be that. But there is more to it than that.

In most organisations that I know screen purchases are tightly controlled. You have to be really special to have anything more than the standard screen. In many ways this control is completely disproportionate to the value that a good screen gives and the relative cost.

The number of people who have cracked or severely scratched mobile phone screens never  ceases to amaze.

There are times when I feel like going around with a cleaning cloth and revealing to people the wonders that lurk beneath. Go on, I dare you, clean a screen today.

Socialising with Customers

I’ve spoken to a few people about social networking, and many of them really struggle to understand the “business value” of the types of interactions that social networking technology allows. The following video has some interesting insights for the changing interaction between organisations and customers.Swans, swans, swans

Probably the most interesting quote comes from Scott Monty of  Ford:

“We’re not interested in advertising on social networks. It’s about getting in there and interacting with people. Now, more than ever, people can self publish, put up their own content and be there own publishing houses, they have a voice and they expect to be heard. And when a large organisation pays attention to them and starts conversing with them it really lifts the lights for a lot of people”

That’s quite a powerful statement about customer’s changing expectations. The part that struck me, though, was to think about all of the customers that we all have.

I work for an IT service organisation and we are definitely seeing this shift in expectations. It’s no longer acceptable to have a service desk that people phone into, people want to take the relationship much further than that.