To speak of a virtual world (often understood as the internet) in opposition to « the real world » is a short-sighted view. It misses the physical aspects : servers, mouses-screens-keyboards, graphical interfaces, energy, etc. Jack Goody would speak of a Great Divide.
Much much more to come but, here are first links :
– « Computers and the environment : Buy our stuff, save the planet » (The Economist, 200805).
– United States’s EPA Report on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency.
– @WebOL : SENSEI, Webbed mobility, STS (Science Technology Society), Jack Goody.
– @Lavoisy/Net : OL’s own PhD about technical drawings + CAD (Computer Aided Design).