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Offline Optimization

An interest of mine is reducing dependence on persistant connectivity. To this end I've started documenting my setup in the hopes that it helps others improve their lives.

Reducing our dependence on persistant connectivity has several benefits. The first, and most obvious, is that it frees you from infrastructure. You can work on your computer wherever you are. Want to send an email in the middle of the woods? Sure! Want to read the latest news while on a boat in the middle of a lake? You can do that too! There are several less obvious benefits to pursuing a life free from this type of persistant connectivity. For instance, the idea that you don't have persistant connectivity is one that dates back to the early days of computers when persistant connectivity literally didn't exist, you had to work asynchronously with your data. This means that a lot of the tools you can use for this were originally written for systems much less powerful than the one your probably on right now meaning that'll be super fast and efficient. This has the clear advantage of providing a better user experience but it also means you don't need to use the latest and greatest computer hardware. Not only does this mean you can save money by not having to purchase a new computer every couple of years but you are also saving the environment from toxic e-waste. Working in an offline manner also conserves energy in other ways too. Persistant connectivity isn't free! Did you know that 2% of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions comes from datacenters? How much of that do you think is because we have come to expect this stuff to be online 24/7/365? By using your connectivity efficiently, you can help reduce the load on the overall network we call the Internet. This isn't just about reducing persistant connectivity either. The tools and topics I'll be discussing here also focus heavily on text as the primary information medium. It's far more efficient to request a few killobytes of text data than a modern heavy website containing not only text but images, video, scripts and ads. In 2017 the average size of a web page was 3MB. That's twice as much as you could fit on a floppy disk when I was in school! Compare this to the size of a webpage from just 5 years earlier. In 2012, the median page size was just 500KB! That's a whopping 600% increase in page size in just 5 years. Imagine if we could go back and get closer to that 500KB size. How much energy would that save? By using the tools outlined below, you won't be able to change the size of the web pages you view on the Internet but you will learn that for a lot of things, you don't need a web browser and removing the web browser reduces the bloat that's caused this exponential growth in consumption over the last few years.

Below is a raw listing of the articles I've started so far. This is a living document (it's a wiki after all) and I'm always adding things so check back often for more information on how you can be a better Internet citizen:

  • Offlineimap and MSMTP - Go back to using email the way doG intended
  • Newsboat - Get your reading on while your connection is off
offline_optimization.txt · Last modified: 2020/01/19 17:08 by elw