Consumerism

  • John Michael Greer makes a really important provocation. He begins explaining a few things about the current world that everybody not living in a hole already knows: Our current industrial society was just a non repeatable huge stroke of luck, made possible by access to an immense supply of cheap, highly concentrated fuel that took million years to produce, and was worth extracting (same theme of Never mind the debt!
  • The Conversation just published an article that tries to compare the environmental costs of eReaders and shelfs of books. While overall that is a good article, I see no mention in it, or in the comments, of three important facts about reading, readers and ICT. First, all kinds of information can be digitized, e.g. coded as bits, and all bits are equal. The same USB drive can store books, movies, music and so on, and the same electronic devices can play them all.
  • (what follows is an updated synthesis of some comments I made on an Italian mailing list back in 2007). I am publishing them because I feel certain questions still make sense today, and because I am really interested, much more today than back then, to exchange ideas and experiences about this) Fair Trade, at least in forms like “buy these T-Shirts made in India with Organic Cotton, by a company that decided to invest in community and workers rights” leaves me a bit puzzled.
  • (funny update on Jan 14th, 2011, see bottom of page) On November 30, 2010, the German section of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched Save As WWF, Save a Tree, a “green” (because not printable) file format. A few days later, I explained why that WWF format is dumb, anti-environment and generally useless, the format was cracked and Hans Bezemer released a .WWF toolkit to generate, convert or print WWF files on Linux.
  • I live in a city where basic smart metering will become the norm in a few months, in a country that is drowning in car but wants to produce more of them, just greener. That’s why two distinct pieces of news really caught my attention last week. What are smart meters and electric cars? “Smart meters” are electric meters that can monitor and report to your power utility, more or less in real time, how much power you are using, when and (if they know which kind of appliance is connected to each power outlet) even how.
  • In September 2010 I went to the Open World Forum to present some first results of my research about local impacts of Open Data. The Forum was an interesting and varied event, that gave space to very interesting talks, keynotes and comments about freedom, education and gender diversity in software. Another great moment for me was the contribution to the final panel by John Wilbanks, Vice-President for Science Creative Commons.
  • October 10 2010 (10/10/10) is the day chosen for a Global Work Party that nobody should miss: _"The place is wherever you live. And the point is to do something that will help deal with global warming in your city or community. We’re calling it a Global Work Party, with emphasis on both 'work' and 'party'. In Auckland, New Zealand, they’re having a giant bike fix-up day, to get every bicycle in the city back on the road.
  • It’s weird how things that seem completely unrelated are, in fact, more or less connected. On February 5th, 2010, just five days after the traffic ban in Milan, with caused a storm of discussions, an absolutely unusual event, that is some inches of snow falling in full winter, created even more chaos than usual on the streets of Milan and all the surrounding area. During that afternoon, the speakers of Caterpillar (a popular talk-show on a national radio station asked to all Milan citizens who were listening inside their cars to call and tell how long they had already been blocked in the streets and how long they thought they would still remain there.
  • The short prayer which follows was inspired by participation to family discussions about next Christmas and from the discovery of the article and website mentioned below. It is a prayer which is perfect for everybody, regardless of religion. You can fill the empty square brackets with whatever you want, from the name of any God to… your own, and it will still make sense. And it’s good even if you don’t celebrate Christmas yourself and nobody celebrates it around you.
  • The week from Nov. 22 to Nov. 29 is the European Waste Reduction Week. The reason for such an initiative is obvious from the 2008 images from Naples: many other cities worldwide risk similar crisis and it’s pointless to discuss whether one should recycle or burn waste if you don’t minimize the amount of waste in the first place.Today, instead, every individual in industrialized countries produces some hundred kilograms of waste every years (imagine a phone booth per person, full of garbage!