“Efficiency fever dreams,” talk on the panel “Compression politics and aesthetics: Mitigating the carbon footprint of streaming media” organized by Marek Jancovic and Judith Keilbach. NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies), Bucharest, June 22 2022 (by videoconference)
“The Small File Media Festival,” talk on the panel “On Greening Film Festivals” organized by Ger Zielinski. Society for Cinema Studies 2022. April 3 2022  (by videoconference)
"On greening film festivals: The environmental impact of film festivals and their future design and operation," by Marijke de Valck and Ger Zielinski, in conversation with Rachel Dodds, Laura U. Marks, Fabienne Merlet and Amaia Serrulla. NECSUS. January 13 2022.
Azadeh Emadi, Joseph Malbon, Laura U. Marks, and Radek Przedpełski, “Bending the possible (one pixel at a time): Small-file ecomedia for the Anthropocene,” pre-recorded panel, ISEA 2022.
Laura U. Marks and Radek Przedpełski, “A Contribution to the Critique of the Carbon Footprint of Streaming Media. Earth’s Carrying Capacity as a Regime of Capital in the Postdigital Age.” Talk on the panel “Capital, Nature, Infrastructure” at the conference Many Regimes of Capital in the Postdigital Age, University of Warsaw. By videoconference. October 20 2021.
Laura U. Marks and Radek Przedpełski, “Tackling the Carbon Footprint of Streaming Media: A Transdisciplinary Laboratory for New Media Informatics.” New Materialist Informatics 2021. March 24. By videoconference.
“Streaming media populate the ether and heat the planet,” talk on the panel “Expanded Environments II,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies. March 21 2021. By videoconference.
2020    Laura U. Marks, Joseph Clark, Jason Livingston, and Lucas Hilderbrand, “Let’s Tackle the Carbon Footprint of Streaming Media.” Roundtable. Society for Cinema and Media Studies. April 4 2020. Videoconference organized by SCMS’ Environmental Special Interest Group.


 “Ask an Online Media Expert: What’s the Carbon Footprint of the Internet?”, told to Alex Tesar, The Walrus, June 2022.
Interview on carbon impact of streaming media with Carolina de Ryk, Daybreak North, CBC radio, Prince Rupert, BC. June 17 2022   
Is Our Netflix Obsession Harming the Planet? This Is the Environmental Impact of Streaming,” podcast interview with Stephanie Osmanski,
Media Genealogies and Haptic Geographies,” interview in Alex Estorick’s series “The Uncanny Valley,” Flash Art, October 12 2022.

Interview with Michael Hedges on the carbon footprint of streaming media, British Association for American Studies 2021 Annual Conference. June 30.
Cinema, touch, and the climate movement with Laura U. Marks,” interview on Roz Skillen’s podcast Catch Yerself On. March 2021.

Recent smallfile publications

We've been publishing a lot!

Laura U. Marks and Radek Przedpełski, “The Carbon Footprint of Streaming Media: Problems, Calculations, Solutions,” in Film and Television in the Age of Climate Crisis: Toward a Greener Screen, ed. Pietari Kääpä and Hunter Vaughan (Basingstoke: Palgrave). On Selected Writings page

Stephen Makonin, Laura U. Marks, Radek Przedpełski, Ramy El Mallah, Alejandro Rodriguez-Silva, “Calculating the Carbon Footprint of Streaming Media: Beyond the Myth of Efficiency,” Computing within Limits, LIMITS ‘22

Laura U. Marks and Radek Przedpełski, “
Bandwidth Imperialism and Small-File Media,” in Post-45, special issue on “New Filmic Geographies” ed. Suzanne Enzerink.

Laura U. Marks, “A Survey of ICT Engineering Research Confirms Streaming Media’s Carbon Footprint,”
Media + Environment.

Laura U. Marks, “Collapse Informatics and the Environmental Impact of Information and Communication Technologies,” Routledge Handbook of Ecomedia Studies, ed. Alenda Chang, Kiu-Wai Chu, Adrian Ivakhiv, Antonio Lopez, Stephen Rust, and Miriam Tola. Routledge. Forthcoming 2023

Laura U. Marks, “Large-File Streaming: An Unsustainable Pleasure,” in What Film Is Good For, ed. Julian Hanich and Martin Rossouw. University of California Press. Forthcoming 2023

Small File Photo Festival

Inspired by the Small File Media Festival, The Photographers Gallery, London, has a Small File Photo Festival!

Over-engineered infrastructure anticipates expanded consumption

Recently a consensus has developed that it is not feasible to separately parse out the contribution of streaming video to ICT. It is more accurate to measure the power consumption of data centers, networks, and devices separately (see e.g. Hintemann and Hinterholzer 2021, Andrae 2021). It makes sense to calculate the electricity consumption of large actors like YouTube, and to calculate individual consumers’ electricity footprint, including the production energy of their devices, but not to add up all individual consumers’ hours of streaming. Some engineers (e.g. Malmodin 2021; Preist, Schien, and Shabajee 2019) argue that more data, as in streaming video and other data-intensive practices, does not necessarily result in more energy consumption. This is because networks and data centers are running 24/7, regardless of data use. As network engineer Chris Preist explains, ‘With current network technologies, if you send less data along it, in most cases it doesn’t reduce the energy use. It's like an airplane: if you don’t fly, the plane flies anyway, and so “not flying” only reduces emissions if it leads to less airplanes flying in the long term’ (Burgess, 2021).

That’s not good news, though. ICT’s infrastructure of networks and data centers was put in place for data-intensive applications like streaming and computation-intensive applications like AI and blockchain. The infrastructure is engineered to anticipate future use and spur consumer demand. The argument that streaming only slightly increases electricity consumption naturalizes the notion that infrastructure should be over-engineered. It encourages additional high-data (and computation-heavy) use that will require infrastructure to expand still more.

Only slightly decelerated by the pandemic, ICT’s infrastructure of networks, data centres, and devices continued to expand worldwide in anticipation of market growth (Global Market Insights, 2020; Research and Markets, 2020).

The more we use them, the more the infrastructure will expand. Our goal can only be the equivalent of keeping more planes out of the sky: reducing the expansion of ICT. It is crucial to limit consumption, including devices.


Andrae, A. 2021. “New perspectives on internet electricity use in 2030.” Engineering and Applied Science Letters. 30 June.

Burgess, Matt. (2021) "YouTube’s carbon footprint is huge, but smarter web design could fix it." Wired UK, July 5, 2019.

Global Market Insights. (2020) "Telecom Network Infrastructure Market Size, By Component."

Hinterholzer, S., and R. Hintemann. (2020) Videostreaming: Energy Requirements and CO2 Emissions Background Paper: The Most Important Points in a Nutshell.‘ Trans. Stephan Meinke. BorderStep Institute for Innovation and Sustainability.

Malmodin, J. (2021) ‘The power consumption of mobile and fixed network data services: The case of streaming video and downloading large files.’ Unpublished paper.

Preist, C., Schien, D., and P. Shabajee. 2019. "Evaluating Sustainable Interaction Design of Digital Services: The Case of YouTube." In: CHI 2019 - Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 1-12

Research and Markets. (2020) “Worldwide Server Forecast, 2021-2025.”

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