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Internet usage and 'carbon footprints'.

Whilst the use of the internet can help in reducing one's 'carbon footprint', certain practises can also reduce further the energy that this necessarily consumes. Graphics in, say, GIF or JPG form are usually compressed so that no useful reduction in file size can reasonably occur. However, the same cannot be said of the source code of the web-pages that support such graphics.

Many of us are not conversant with HTML, or hypertext mark-up language, trusting to the 'machinery' to do this for us. However, some means of generating web-pages are extremely wasteful, in that the majority of the source code sent in the page is either unused or unwanted.

The author was very mindful of this when compiling teaching aids that then had to be saved to floppies. Sometimes an HTML file would occupy more diskspace than the graphics involved. For example, a quite simple page, compiled and saved in Word, and other programmes, could occupy some 500 kilobytes. Writing the source code directly in HTML could effect the same apparent function with a reduction in file size of some 100:1. Such files then occupy less disk-space and are much faster to transmit, thus freeing up 'bandwidth'.

To demonstrate this, an example is given below.

An index page for an environmentally-driven non-profit organisation was produced and published. The aesthetic aim was to impart a sense of movement and light using a minimum of code. Low usage was anticipated and five days after launch it differed little save some details of embellishment and read as follows;


For those who like numbers, this gives some 1,460 characters with spaces. The picture content comprised 1,330,176 = (1,293,312 + 19,456 + 17,408 bytes on disk).

Stripping out filenames and URLs gives:


This gives some 675 characters with spaces. The picture content remaining 1M330176, this yields a ratio of about 1,922 / 1 or 0.052%.

The previous total of 1,460 gives a ratio of 1,822 / 1 or 0.0548%.

1,460 675 = 785 characters with spaces for filenames and URLs.

Using the above link try saving the webpage in a variety of programmes on your own PC, then opening those files, clicking View and then Source, the differences in content and file size should then become swiftly apparent.

The same principles can apply to other forms of compression, particularly with PDFs. One local government department that the author receives 'home-brew' PDFs from, regularly disseminates files of 2Mb or more which carry no more than a single page of information. This is largely due to no consideration being given to the size of the graphics files included. The implications for e-mail traffic, notwithstanding spam, are obvious.

No apologies then are afforded for the lack of apparent sophistication of my web pages. It is intended that they be viewed via as many platforms and resolutions as possible, and to assist new-comers to the internet in the creation of their own internet presence, thus the simplicity.

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