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This morning I was surprised by two delightful tweets from fellow green and social media guru, Max Gladwell, and visual green thinker Franke James:

Tweets La Marguerite

What’s the fuss about? A mention in the UK Guardian, from Do The Green Thing startup co-founders Andy Hobsbawm and Naresh Ramshandani:

Which tech businesses or web thinkers are the ones to watch?

“For tech we read people like Clay Shirky, Nicholas Carr, Yochai Benkler, Howard Rheingold, Kevin Kelly and Bruce Sterling. For green thinking we follow things like WorldChanging.com, Max Gladwell, the TED blog, Treehugger, La Marguerite and folk like John Grant, Jules Peck and Amory Lovins.”

This acknowledgment comes at a time when I have expanded the scope of my thinking besides just ‘green’, to also include other interests such as, the role of social media in facilitating social change, as well as a rekindled involvement with insight  meditation.

I have also moved away from ‘traditional long-format blogging’, as here on WordPress, to a more organic way of sharing my thoughts on micro-blogging platform Twitter, where you can follow me every day here.

It’s been several months already, since I started working on a new green tech project. And I want to share my excitement about our most favorite tool, our team wiki. Short and sweet, here are ten reasons why we could not do without our wiki:

  1. It’s free. Not all wikis are, but we found one that does not cost us a dime. We are planning to upgrade as we expand and need a more robust version.
  2. It’s easy to set up. All you need is a name, and you can start inviting your teammates to be co-administrators of your wiki.
  3. It’s easy to use. Don’t listen to all the scary wiki stories. While it’s true that some wikis can be a bit hard to learn – I never warmed up to SocialText for instance – , others, like PB Wiki, are a breeze.
  4. It’s oh so forgiving. No need to worry about messing up. You can always edit, rename, or delete a page. And if you change your mind, you can revert to earlier versions on your page history.
  5. It’s a virtual structure. The front page is a good place to list all the main areas of work for your project, with all the relevant pages underneath each area.
  6. It’s a task organizer. We are using the side bar to keep track of individual tasks. Nothing like seeing one’s name next to projects, to deliver.
  7. It’s a repository of  knowledge. We can each contribute our knowledge as we go, without having to worry about it ever getting lost.
  8. It’s a search tool. Type any keyword into the wiki search box, and you get a list of all the pages within your wiki with mentions of that keyword. Very,  very useful feature.
  9. It’s a safe box. No danger of Powerpoint presentations, Word documents, images, pdfs, disappearing. They’re all stored in the wiki ‘cloud’.
  10. It’s a playground. Uniquely fit for the creative needs of  startups. You can play alone, writing pages on your own. Or you can edit, or comment on each other’s pages.

And, no I don’t work for PB Wiki or any other wiki company.

Not a day goes by, without yet another report on the growing risks posed by the increasing scarcity of water. Today’s report is from the Pacific Institute: Water Scarcity & Climate Change: Growing Risks for Businesses & Investors and CERES.

Taking agriculture/food, the sector of interest to me, the applicable risks fall as follow:

Physical Risks Reputational Risks Regulatory Risks

water-risks_food-sector_ceres-study

Growers are going to need all the help they can get to adapt to more and more unpredictable water supply and weather patterns. Not one but a combination of strategies will be required to mitigate risk. Prediction models, risk management tools, sensing networks, smart irrigation scheduling systems, efficient water pricing and delivery, accurate water tracking, incentives for the installation of smart water management infrastructure,   all will have a part to play. And it will take the collaboration of federal, state, business, and private land owners to make it happen.

If you want to assess your company’s exposure to water risk, you can start here.

It started with a tweet:

tweet_lamarguerite05

Twitter is great that way. I know of no better forum for validating one’s seemingly universal thoughts and feelings. Yesterday, I got seized with a severe case of eco² panic. Eco like green. Eco like economic. Images of CO2 going nuts, and us still not getting our act together, despite almost daily global warming alerts. And the specter of another Great Depression, only worse this time around.

Thank God, Franke was there to tweet back prompto to shake me up good:

tweet_lamarguerite04I must say, I felt a bit ashamed for having given into “defeatism”.  Imagine if all the citizens voiced out their secret despair as I did. That would be the end of it. Even Bill’s chiming in and lecturing Barack, telling him he’s not hopeful enough. Yes, we can. And we shall. Still, I could not let go completely of the reality of my malaise.

tweet_lamarguerite03That was a pretty wishy-washy tweet. I wasn’t even sure where I was going with it. Until Franke’s response:

tweet_lamarguerite01

Thank you, Franke for gifting me, us with your such a wonderful image. Now, whenever I start feeling blue, I will imagine a green window, opening to a new landscape of windmills, and solar farms, and electric cars, and workers going about their green jobs . . .

Today, McKinsey just released the results of a survey amongst executives on Web 2.0 adoption. Here are some excerpts:

1. The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top. Web 2.0 projects often are seen as grassroots experiments, and leaders sometimes believe the technologies will be adopted without management intervention—a “build it and they will come” philosophy. These business leaders are correct in thinking that participatory technologies are founded upon bottom-up involvement from frontline staffers and that this pattern is fundamentally different from the rollout of ERP systems, for example, where compliance with rules is mandatory. Successful participation, however, requires not only grassroots activity but also a different leadership approach: senior executives often become role models and lead through informal channels.

2. The best uses come from users—but they require help to scale. The applications that drive the most value through participatory technologies often aren’t those that management expects. Efforts go awry when organizations try to dictate their preferred uses of the technologies—a strategy that fits applications designed specifically to improve the performance of known processes—rather than observing what works and then scaling it up. When management chooses the wrong uses, organizations often don’t regroup by switching to applications that might be successful. 

3. What’s in the workflow is what gets used. Participatory technologies have the highest chance of success when incorporated into a user’s daily workflow. The importance of this principle is sometimes masked by short-term success when technologies are unveiled with great fanfare; with the excitement of the launch, contributions seem to flourish. As normal daily workloads pile up, however, the energy and attention surrounding the rollout decline, as does participation.

4. Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs—not just their wallets. Traditional management incentives aren’t particularly useful for encouraging participation. A more effective approach plays to the Web’s ethos and the participants’ desire for recognition: bolstering the reputation of participants in relevant communities, rewarding enthusiasm, or acknowledging the quality and usefulness of contributions.

5. The right solution comes from the right participants. Targeting users who can create a critical mass for participation as well as add value is another key to success. To select users who will help drive a self-sustaining effort (often enthusiastic early technology adopters who have rich personal networks and will thus share knowledge and exchange ideas), a thoughtful approach is required. 

6. Balance the top-down and self-management of risk. A common reason for failed participation is discomfort with it, or even fear. Prudent managers should work with the legal, HR, and IT security functions to establish reasonable policies, such as prohibiting anonymous posting. Fears are often overblown, however, and the social norms enforced by users in the participating communities can be very effective at policing user exchanges and thus mitigating risks.

If you understand Web 2.0, none of these findings should be surprising. If you don’t, I am not sure reading the report will make a difference. To be understood, Web 2.0 is not to be read about. Instead, it has to be experienced. Hence, I will boil down McKinsey‘s 6 ways to only one:

If you want your company to catch the Web 2.0 train, make sure that you yourself, or other executives in your company are already in that train. Blog, and tweet, and start, or participate in wikis. Not just to try. That won’t work. No, you’ve got to be genuinely into it, and make it a part of your regular (work) life. Then, McKinsey‘s 6 rules will become second nature to you. And you may even discover more ingredients to add to the ‘Web 2.0 at work’ secret sauce. 

Now, I am going to tweet about this using #web2.0work hashtag, per @ McKQuarterly ‘s request – if you don’t understand, then I suggest you get a tutorial from one of your Web 2.0 savvy friends :)

About to start writing copy for my new blog, Grocery Chick, I figured what better way  to learn than from the masters, in this case the top fifteen women bloggers – according to Technorati authority rankings:

The Huffington Post, of course! Arianna Huffington is my heroin, and not a day goes by without me paying a visit. Now a huge media enterprise, the Post still feels very much like a woman’s work. Love how Arianna paired up with the best in social media and business, to create a top notch Internet news source.

Dooce, Heather Armstrong’s deliciously irreverent brainchild. The woman is gooood, as in awesome writing. Plus, she’s got no hang ups, and shares it all. From the most intricate details about her latest ultrasound visit for her not yet born baby girl, to the ups and downs of her relationship with dear husband Jon, to the careful documentation of her days with five year old daughter Lela. Dooce is a ‘reality’ blog with some flair. Of course, it does not hurt that the whole family is blessed with insanely good looks.

In the same genre as Dooce, Ree Drummond,  The Pioneer Woman engages with her generous sharing of adorable family pics, tempting food photos, marital tales, and dreams of the Far West way of life. Baring it all  clearly pays off. Never mind that the reality shared is too perfectly imperfect – or imperfectly perfect? . . .

Reluctantly, I had to include Michelle Malkin in this list. Michelle’s got a captive audience with all her friends from Fox News.

Moving on, time to meet Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer. Another really good writer, who oozes mommy goodness. Moms love to hear about other moms’ stories, and Shannon sure knows how to deliver.

If Martha Stewart had a blog, her name would be Gabrielle Blair, from Design Mom. Clean looks, design and motherhood have never gone so well together. She’s got her niche covered.

Over at Tip Junkie, Laurie Turk has created a place for all the ‘homemakers’, the still huge crowd of women into crafts and things.

Love the naked simplicity of Simple Mom, Tsh’s blog.

Bitch Ph.D‘s probably my favorite woman’s blog, along with Dooce – no offense Arianna, I put you in a separate category – A collection of anonymous feminist – in a good way – voices, Bitch Ph.D shines by its authenticity. These women are not in it for the fame. They are just sharing their whole utterly – not perfectly – imperfect selves. How refreshing! I can’t get enough. Plus, you’ve got to like the name of that blog . . .

Don’t Try This is an ordinary mom’s blog, with the added appeal of daily giveaways. Apparently moms line up for the stuff.

In the food department, come  Smitten Kitchen and Delicious Days. Great food shots, and recipe writing, with lots of personal references. And in each case, a woman, assisted by her man for all the plugins and other technical goodies that make a blog super nice. Men like these are priceless . . . Heidi Swanson, with 101 Cookbooks blog manages on her own. Very well.

A‘s got to be the shortest blog name ever. A’s for designer Ali Edwards, world’s scrapbooking expert. Scrapbooking is big!!!!

Yarn Harlot is for the knitting nuts. Women, young and old love to knit, it’s well known. Create the best knitting bog, like Canadian Stephanie Pearl-McPherson, and you are guaranteed blogging stardom.

Fifteen blogs, that taught me a few tricks.

  • Write about what you feel most passionate about. Cliche, but heck, very true.
  • If that’s about a topic lots of other women are into, even better.
  • Hot topics: cooking, home, kids, knitting, scrapbooking, crafts . . . not much has changed since my grandmother’s days.
  • Share your life freely. Shit and all. Chicks, your primary audience love drama.
  • Dreams sell. Show off your perfect body, perfect home, perfect family. If you’ve got them. If not, make up stuff.
  • At home moms love to read blogs – don’t you forget it.
  • Moms can’t get enough of cute kids pictures, and stories, and videos. Ad nauseum.
  • If you’re going to venture into serious business – like Arianna and Michelle, bring in your personality – assuming you’ve got one . . .

That’s  eight tricks altogether. I just caught myself thinking, come on you can come up with ten. Quickly, though, my better self stepped in. What’s up with ten? Be real, girl.

The more I learn about what’s in our food, the more concerned, and outraged I get. I spent this morning immersed in Friends of the Earth‘s report on ‘Out of the Laboratory and onto our Plates: Nanotechnology in Food & Agriculture’. Scary stuff! Consider this:

Friends of the Earth’s new report finds that untested nanotechnology is being used in more than 100 food products, food packaging and contact materials currently on the shelf, without warning or FDA testing . . .

‘Nanofood’ describes food which has been cultivated, produced, processed or packaged using nanotechnology techniques or tools, or food to which manufactured nanomaterials have been added.
Nanomaterials can be used as more potent food colorings, flavorings and nutritional additives, antibacterial ingredients for food packaging, and more potent agrochemicals and fertilizers.  For example, nanomaterials can be in the packaging around your crackers, provide the color of the meat you buy, and supply the added nutrients in the shake you feed to your toddler . . .

Nanomaterials are an untested new technology and not well researched. The long term repercussions of using them in our food are not known. Nanoparticles have been shown in preliminary studies to be more chemically reactive than larger particles and when they find their way into our bodies, they can potentially wreak havoc. We also don’t know how much we can safely ingest without harm, but we do know that some studies have already shown that nanomaterials can adversely affect our immune system . . .

Nanofood - Friends of the Earth image
Nanofood – Friends of the Earth image

Here is the list of companies engaged in nanofood technology, many of them popular household names:

food-and-agriculture-companies-engaged-in-nanotechnology-rd

And the result is:

nanomaterials-in-foods-and-beveragesand this:

nanomaterials-in-food-packagingnanomaterials-in-food-packaging-02and this:

nanomaterials-in-food-additivesFor now, until the FDA and the USDA get their act together, it seems that we, the people, are  once more on our own, when it comes to food and our health. The good news is, there are a few actions we can take:

  • Avoid consuming highly processed foods and beverages
  • Favor organic whenever you can
  • Exercise your rights as a citizen and petition elected officials to ban nanofood altogether.
  • Circulate this article in the citizen media – Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc

Your health, and the health of your children is at stake.

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