Companies Respond To Incentives, Too

A Google data center

The New York Times has a big new feature up explaining why data centers at Google, Facebook etc. waste tons of electricity. Diego Doval, a former CTO at a popular startup, skewers the NYT with a 5,000 word critique of the factual inaccuracies in the post.

Doval is right on with his critique, but there's a simpler problem with the piece, that I find tends to underlie lots of liberal thought. As the article points out, data centers use 2% of the electricity in the United States. The expense required to power these data centers represents a huge, huge incentive for all of these companies to cut down on their power use as much as possible. To do otherwise, with the amount of money they're spending, would be negligent.

Sadly, people who can write code, and understand the performance and reliability problems faced when running a large data center, are rare enough and highly paid enough that most of them work in the tech sector. When non-technical reporters try to report what's going on without understanding the fundamental issues, you get articles like this one.

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