In an effort to reduce dramatically an unsightly and ecologically problematic abundance of unused pixels littering our nation’s computer desktops and floating in cyberspace, the EFF Pixel-Recycling Program for 2018 will be rolled out this Sunday. Citizens are encouraged to bring or send their surplus pixels to designated locations for ecofriendly disposal/re-use.
Sponsored by the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the program’s goal is to help pixel consumers — especially high-end users such digital-image, digital-video, and digital-music creators and distributors — to become more responsible cyber-citizens and help slow down global warming.
To qualify for recycling, all unwanted items must be contained in sustainable packaging such as Acrobat PDF and Photoshop files; TIFF, PNG, and JPEG files are also acceptable. (At the present time the program can’t accept GIFs, due to legacy architecture issues.) … In the coming years EFF hopes to recycle unused pixels from MFA students at art schools around the world, which the EFF Data Analysis Board considers, cumulatively, one of the world’s largest stockpiles of useless high-resolution imagery.
Project manager Dave Dongle stated that the new program will be both convenient and environmentally responsible. “I mean, the last thing we want is a floating ‘island’ made of discarded, unwanted pixels to turn up in cyberspace the way that plastic trash clutters up the South Pacific,” he elaborated. “We don’t even have a means of estimating what’s clogging up the ‘cloud’ right now, but we do know it’s expanding exponentially,” Dongle asserts. “People are worried — and rightly so — about the physical ‘space junk’ that floats around in the solar system. Multiply that about a billionfold and you’ve got a ballpark idea of the crisis in pixel pollution.”
Director of Pixel Recycling Collection Location Initiatives Shmuel Mohawk explained that “Each year, trillions of unneeded pixels collect dust in the corners of your screens, as well as on old floppy disks, obsolescent SyQuest drives, and 512kb flash drives — not to mention the terabytes left over from unneeded backstory ‘documentaries’ from blockbuster feature films… It’s our goal to recycle unneeded pixels clogging computers and data farms throughout the globe, since reducing storage requirements will reduce energy usage, and help the planet heal. …”
According to its mission statement, “The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows. Recycling pixels helps to assure citizens that our all-important pixels are freely available for the expression of our ideas without fear of increasing their carbon footprint in ways that might force government control thereof.”
For more information on the EFF’s Pixel-Recycling Program visit: www.pixel-recycle.org
In a press release announcing this unprecedented initiative, Cindy Cohn, the Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, noted that, like the EFF itself, this pixel-recycling program was the brainchild of EFF founder John Perry Barlow, who died unexpectedly on February 7, 2018. “This was our front-burner project when John passed,” Cohn notes. “Our way of coping with that loss was to mount a 24/7 effort to get this program up and running as soon as possible, in a tribute to his vision. As John used to say, ‘Don’t mourn for me — digitize.'” During a press conference, Cohn indicated that, “In terms of file content, anything goes. Even text files, though text documents contain fewer waste pixels than image/sound files. For convenience’s sake, we ask that people sort their files into text / audio / still / video folders for discarding. The overarching goal of the program is to get people thinking about their digital ‘waste’ and reducing their footprints in that regard.”
Cohn added that the EFF is working with both Apple and Microsoft to develop improved delete functions that will automatically recycle pixels, rather than simply discarding them. At present Apple’s OS X calls this function ‘Trash,’ while in Windows it’s known, ironically, as the ‘Recycle Bin.’ “That Windows icon is actually quite misleading,” says Cohn. “At least Apple’s ‘Trash’ is straightforward.” She continues, “What digital-device users don’t realize, however, is that from the beginning of the digital era till now, throwing something into either the OS X ‘Trash’ or the Windows ‘Recycle Bin’ has been no different than tossing an empty Pepsi can or yesterday’s newspaper into any old garbage can that’s handy. Sure, you’re not dumping it on the street, so you’re not littering. But you’re just sending your file to the cyberspace equivalent of a landfill.
“The sooner we get the makers of all the operating systems on board to build this pixel-recycling process into their software, the sooner our project becomes redundant,” Cohn concludes The ball is in their court now. That was Barlow’s vision, and it’s ours. We want to become obsolete.”
Nancy Burlan & Harris Fogel, Posted March 30, 2018
For more information on the EFF’s Pixel-Recycling Program for 2018 visit: www.pixel-recycle.org
For a related story visit: “‘Gremlyns of Light’: A Memoir.”