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July 25, 2007

Contemplating the San Francisco power outage that blew a hole in Web 2.0 yesterday, Om Malik writes:

Whatever the reasons behind the failure might be, yesterday was a rude reminder of how fragile our digital lives are. The seemingly invincible web services (not to mention the notional wealth they signify) vanish with a blink of the eye. It was also a reminder, that all the hoopla around web services is just noise - for in the end the hardware, the plumbing, the pipes and more importantly, the power grid is the real show.

Amen. As I wrote back in April: "Web 2.0 isn't about applications. It's about bricks and mortar. It's about capital assets. It's about infrastructure." There's a reason Google builds scores of data centers and places them next to big dams with hydroelectric generating stations. The new grid is built on the old grid, and the old grid is fraying.

In a meeting between top tech companies and the department of energy last December, one of the attendees said, "I think we may be at the beginning of a potential energy crisis for the IT sector. It’s clearly coming.” And he wasn't just talking about a stray power-station snafu or faulty generator. He was talking about tapping out the power grid. Literally.


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