There is an great feature in this month's Harper's Magazine on Google's Data Centre plans for a small community on the banks of the Columbia River in Oregon. I think its really easy to see technology as something invisible: after all, thats why Google searches, Gmail and YouTube are so popular.
But this technology is not really invisible. It needs power. The brain power is more apparent: Google is actively expanding and a huge number of "star engineers" have joined its ranks. The less apparent, oft-neglected power is electricity.
While it may be out-of-sight (and off-site) for most of us, its dangerous for us to let this important fact slip out-of-mind. The immense power that Google affords us relies on huge amounts of processing power, and in turn, huge amounts of electricity. The article is quite right to point out that Google has now become a heavy industry of the 21st century.
While I don't know whether its more efficient, in terms of power consumption, for individuals, small business and communities to do things themselves (such as running email servers, etc.), or for everything to be consolidated into Google's huge farms of servers, I do know that it is important not to not consider the efficiency and environmental record of this new heavy industry.