Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

The Huffington Post just published a very sweet interview of environmental artist and activist, Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Touching reminders of the beauty we live in, and also, of the degradation that is threatening it, Arthus-Bertrand’s spectacular aerial photos cannot leave one unmoved. It struck me that Arthus-Bertrand is playing a crucial role as environmental witness, whose pictures cause us to pause, and reflect on the state of our environment. From sprawling suburbs, that require us to drive everywhere, to our 24/7 pumping of oil, to the hopeful sight of a windmill covered landscape, . . . 

Yann Arthurs Bertrand - suburbs
Yann Arthurs Bertrand – suburbs
Yann Arthus-Bertrand - oil fields
Yann Arthus-Bertrand – oil fields
Yann Arthus-Bertrand - Windmills
Yann Arthus-Bertrand – Windmills

We can consume Arthus-Bertrand’s landscapes, and transform our impressions into action. We can also emulate Arthus-Bertrand and engage into environmental witnessing ourselves. Thanks to the Internet, and user friendly technology, it has become child play to record and broadcast scenes that strike us, in only a matter of minutes. Think YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, or blogging. 

Just imagine a world, where citizens all over, took the time to witness and share what they see with their fellow citizens. Action starts with information, and it is our great privilege and responsibility to make sure that all environmental crimes get recorded. That’s the least we can do. Someone, somewhere else, can take that information and run with it. 

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It happened last night, as I was getting dinner ready. Guests were coming in an hour, and the chocolate dessert was not even made, and I had run out of sugar. What to do? The thought of driving four blocks to the nearby grocery store felt sacrilegious. Biking or walking were my next options, but then I didn’t feel I could afford to spend the extra few minutes. In desperation, the brilliant revelation came to me, that I did not have to go very far. How about running across the street to our neighbors’ house? Sure enough, a few minutes later, I was back with the prized sugar. And the satisfaction of having caught up with Steve and the kids.

That’s when it hit me. How alienated I have become from the physical community called my neighborhood. Things that were second nature to my grandparents, such as neighbors helping each other out, are no longer part of my DNA. Wiped out, by a lifestyle that promotes self-reliance at all costs and diverts much of our socializing urges into virtual networks, such as Twitter.

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The folks at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence think they have a better way to organize the creation and consumption of content around complex topics such as global warming. Their new Collaboratorium project aims to fix what they perceive as wrong with current Web collaboration tools such as forums, blogs, emails, IM, and wikis.

It is one thing to create a tool and to throw it out into cyberspace. It is another to get people to use it. As I listened to the video, I asked myself, is the Collaboratorium a place I would choose, to write, comment, and read about climate change solutions? My response is mixed. While I share some of Dr. Klein’s frustrations with the status quo, I am not sure I agree with his solution.

One of the beauty of blogging is the immediacy and creativity that comes with it. Same with wikis. It is precisely because of their loose and imperfect nature, that these tools are so effective. One understandable reaction to such haphazard creation, is a need to control the process. This brings up an interesting tension, that may be best resolved with the offering of a broader range of tools, including other structured collaborative sites besides Wikipedia. Whether Collaboratorium fills that void, only the future will tell . . .

I am curious to hear your thoughts!

Related story: Climate and the web electronic democracy on steroids

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London Mayor candidates bypass mainstream media to answer questions on crowdsourcing website. This headline in the British ‘Journalism‘ magazine, caught my eye. Still fresh from our recent discussions on Al Gore‘s “we” campaign, and going back to some earlier laments about the failure of the media to appropriately cover climate change solutions, I have become more and more interested in the concept of crowdsourcing.

We the people have more power than we think, and there is this wonderful thing called Web 2.0 that can help us be heard. Take a look at the yoosk website – the one used in the London mayoral election – and you will see what I mean:

Next comes the question of, how can we concretely make use of a site like yoosk to foster a productive discussion between citizens and the powers in charge, to explore and trigger concrete solutions to the climate change problem? Personally, I would like to suggest to the “we” team that they consider the yoosk crowdsourcing concept as a way to fortify their campaign. Of course, they would have to read this blog, . . .

Another suggestion would be for some of the readers of this blog, many of them also readers of DotEarth, and who have expressed their frustrations regarding the current state of the media, to take the lead and start a climate change crowdsourcing initiative.

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Ever wonder what people are really into? Go to the tag page on Del.icio.us. Here is what I found today:

  1. Most popular tags: art, blog, business, css, design, development, education, flash, free, howto, inspiration, java, javascript, linux, mac, photography, programming, reference, software, tools, tutorials, tv, video, web, web 2.0. webdesign
  2. Second most popular tags: ajax, apple, blogs, books, funny, games, graphics, health, humor, imported, internet, marketing opensource, photoshop, php, politics, productivity, recipes, research, resources, science, security, technology, tips, toread, travel, windows
  3. Third most popular tags: net, architecture, article, community, diy, download, food, freeware, fun, google, history, illustration, library, media, mobile, portfolio, python, rails, search, social, webdev, wordpress, work
  4. Fourth most popular tags: advertising, audio, blogging, cms, computer, cool, culture, database, fashion, finance, firefox, fonts, framework, hardware, home, html, iphone, jobs, learning, lifehacker, maps, microsoft, mp3, onlin, photo, ruby, ubuntu, visualization, writing, xml, youtube
  5. Fifth most popular tags: 3d, articles, collaboration, color, drupal, english, environment, facebook, gallery, game, gtd, images, magazine, movie, performance, photos, plugin, podcast, religion, rubyonrails, school, shop, typography,uk, usability,videos, wikis

There is only one tag in the green category. Can you find it?

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Do the Green Thing is the new green social network, and it’s exploding. Started by two Brits, its premise is to get its members to do one fun green thing a month. ‘Green Thing is for those of us – and there’s a lot of us – who don’t get turned on by the tree-hugging thing, the guilt thing, the scientific thing or the world-is-at-an-end thing. Green Thing is an easy thing, a fun thing, a creative thing and a community thing. It’s for anyone who wants to be a bit greener but hasn’t found a way.’ The two Brits are onto something . . .

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The 11th Hour movie is out. Lots of buzz in the press, including a great article in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle. That’s good, and I also wonder how much more can be accomplished from more great people sharing more great stories, and more images of doom being shown. The article ends on a quote from Leila Conners Peterson, one of the two filmmakers: ‘We live in this kind of bubble of denial, and the consequences are kept from us. I believe when you see the consequences of your behavior, then you adjust your behavior. It’ not about climate change. It’s a human story. It’s about all of us.

While I agree with Conners Peterson, that we live in a bubble of denial, I disagree on her interpretation. Seeing is not believing, and even less so changing behavior. What we are seeing is too removed from our every day experience to make an impression, that is powerful enough to scare us into changing the way we live. That is the biggest part of the problem, in my mind. And I am the first one to attest to it. The link chain between the evidence, and me is just too long. The Arctic is a great metaphor in that respect. What is happening in the Arctic is so far removed from me geographically, that it touches me big time intellectually, but only faintly in my physical core

What I need is a way to experience the problem in a very real way, in my physical surroundings. My hunch is technology may have a role to play there. We are a plugged in society, increasingly relying on the power of the networks. The Web 2.0 revolution may well hold some of the keys to our current predicament, in the same way the industrial revolution got us into it. I am a big believer in the power of technology, bad and good.

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