RD: What do you suppose the hidden, horrifying human cost of that is?
PF: It’s actually really low. Do you want to get the human cost way down?
RD: I guess I’m curious to know what it is, and then what my options are for bringing it down.
PF: The main net negative would be if you were using computer equipment that was essentially made by slaves. That would be really bad. But the network itself — the electricity and the data center — it has a cost in terms of carbon emissions, but there’s ways to negotiate that.
I’ve been thinking about this with my own Website, Ftrain, which I used to run kind of in my Wag’s Revue years, like from age 22 to 30. I was busy with it, and then I got a job at Harper’s and it faded.
So it’s this archive of that era of my life, which I have very little need to revisit, but I had a lot of readers, and people have remembered it fondly, so I want to store it, and I’ve been thinking about like, what do I do to keep that up? And then recently, I’ve gotten very into Raspberry Pi computers. They cost $35, they plug in totally fine to my cable modem, I have a $35 computer that's totally fine to host a static Web site.
It was made in Britain, by British people. It has electronics from all over the world, but essentially, it’s like an ethically sourced tiny computer.
RD: As ethically sourced as anything that’s manufactured in the world today.
PF: Yeah, exactly. They actually built it using British labor.