Categories
computing design

Redesigning design

Ron Wakkary

Design is about improving the world, that’s kind of why you do it. It’s an optimistic craft – you really do believe that you can make the world better. The position you have determines your view on what better is – not who happens to be paying you.

Dr Ron Wakkary is Professor in the School of Interactive Arts & Technology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, he is Editor-in-Chief of ACM Interactions and Director, Interaction Design Research Centre.

Talking points

I was a painter…I was interested in collaboration, I became interested in computing for colloborations with other artists, and conceptual art – performances.

Then I began a small digital design firm

The practices became blurred because digital media blurred the lines – you didn’t have to say if it was a painting, photo or performance. But digital collaboration was key.

I did my PhD so research could be a platform for my art.

I just marvelled that you could ask questions, critical questions, really interesting engaging questions, and find people who could be also interested in these questions…and find the funding to explore them.

Research and teaching all blends together for me, it’s all really a platform for enquiry.

Making and how we make things is really fundamental to how we construct our lives. Sustainability is an example of that….I’m really interested in how people address sustainability through making things.

This goes to the core of what I’m interested in – understanding design and interaction design, how people make things of all practices to affect the lives they lead and that affects sustainability.

Making things is a code for practices. Everyday design – everyone is a designer.

Such as how a family uses multiple resources to create family memories (heights marked on doorframes, photos on fridge etc).

Everyday design practices as sustainable practices… in the sense that people had enduring and resourceful relationships with artifacts.

A resource could be changed and reshaped, it was a resourcefulness that is creative but also sustainable. In contrast to that is how we design technologies, it really negates that. It doesn’t allow us to have enduring relationships with our artifacts. It doesn’t allow us to manipulate them, to change them, it doesn’t allow us to combine them with other simple artifacts. Aside from the obvious (everyday design)…of extending the life of something, it allows people to have much more control over their environment.

Sustainability is such a big issue, but we can see it played out in the home, when we want something we don’t make, we just buy things. Our creative transactions are shopping. And designers are complicit in that.

A user interface is a promise of what functionality or what the potential of this can be, and we tend to want to create this multi-functionality – more and more promise – and those promises, more than not, become broken. But there’s another promise underneath that, that if we didn’t get it right this time, we’ll get it right next time. And this is the desirable thing. Design plays a role in the desire part, in that it creates the promise, breaks the promise, then has permission to got at it again. But this is a problem, in everyday design people don’t look to something for its promise, they look to it for its creative potential.

People could do that with simple things and simple systems…people look for the creative potential, how they readily reuse it, remake it, to be the active agent…this is different from going to buy something based on a promise, then the transaction is all about the purchase and using it to the promise – that’s a very different relationship.

Steampunk is a design fiction – it allows an exploration of a different set of values, a cultural critique, all based on a practice of making. What can professional design learn from that?

In Green DIY, it’s not enough just to be individually sustainable, but to promote sustainability and ways to be sustainable – learning and sharing and being social.

There are countless examples of professional designers getting it wrong an a practice, say going into a community garden and saying ‘if you put sensors and you had this large public display in your community garden, and we did this modelling…’, that doesn’t embed itself into the practice of community gardening.

For me the key is to understand practices, and to be reflexive, and that might mean changing practices.

There’s a set of assumptions we use to get through the day, through our professional lives. There’s a set of assumptions around the power and utility of technology. That’s been incredibly useful, but needs a critical reflection.

We have to find the point where automation is balanced by human agency and interaction. Easy to say…but a very hard balance to find. We don’t really know how to find that balance – so we need to continually reflect on our own practices.

We need to understand people’s existing values, manifest in the things already around them, and try to extend them.

(Would you work for a cigarette company?) No. (Do your students know that?) Yes. Important question.

As a designer you have to have a position. Doing “objective research”, natural science research, is not a particularly effective way of doing design research, you can’t take the researcher out of the research, you can’t take the designer out of the design. You’re simply not a medium to take on the request of your client, you have a position. When you have to make a decision, the only things that are going to help are your experience and your position, and hopefully those two go together.

Removing the designer from the design is really problematic. Inserting the “cool designer, they know aesthetics”, that’s just one aspect, that is also problematic. A good design has coherency and has purpose. It makes an argument and executes it.

A position is not fixed, it can be dynamic.

It has helped me to accept that there are so many ways of doing practice, so each of us should consider how does sustainability affect your practice? And treat that reflexively, and be prepared to change. You can change the means and achieve the same ends.

The desire to be a designer, it is a detailed craft. You have to have a level of commitment and desire. We haven’t created the curriculum to enable it.

We worked with the city of Vancouver in a City Studio, using the city project on their ambitious Greenest City 2020 Action Plan.

We used speculative design strategies: ludic design, critical design, design fiction, value sensitive design – those methods all require the designer to take a position.

Organisations…need to constantly rethink what kind of social grouping they are – what they believe in.

This generation of students, at least the ones I work with, have…a level of everyday activism, there is for many a kind of different calculus that they go through in terms of finding the place that they want to work, who they want to collaborate with, and the communities that they want to be in. That’s not true of everybody, but it doesn’t have to be true of everybody, you need 20% of the people to be like that, and I think there’s way more than 20% of graduates who are doing that.

It’s getting harder to guide students because the kinds of things they are looking for are all over the place…
start-ups, large companies not for profits, social enterprise, so the level of networking that we (academics) have to do do is much more complicated and more involved – it’s great if you can bring it all back into your teaching and research, that works as a really nice virtuous cycle.

There is a need to rethink.

Maybe I’ve naive, but I’m optimistic, and that partly because of what I see in my students.

Sustainability won’t go away. This cuts both ways “are you still talking about that?” and “if we don’t solve it are we really going to fall apart?”. But there’s a persistence there – you can’t get away from it.

The values… I see starting to rise to the top are these really compelling hard things to deal with, so complex, that it’s not always about coming up with a single solution.

Maybe I’m so process oriented, but my practice view…when people have figured out a method that always comes up with an answer, the relevance of the answer is less and less relevant. We have the perfect, air tight totally irrelevant solutions. There’s been a leaning of the ship to the more complex “I’m not going to get an easy answer”.

Experimental method doesn’t lend itself to wicked problems. We’re seeing much more divergence.

(on enjoying his career) There’s enough stuff to inquire about, there are enough problems to keep you motivated, there’s enough good people to around to keep you motivated, there are enough surprises to let you know you don’t have the answers and you have to keep searching, and enough dynamism and change to be optimistic.

Students keep you on your toes more than you keep them on their toes.

(Activist). I’m concerned, I want to find ways I feel like I can contribute.

(Challenges) Increasing complexity and dynamics – finding people who want to work on understanding that.

(Advice) Keep going. Keep making. Chances are, whatever you are doing is not as good as you think, but it’s nowhere near as dangerous or harmful as you think it is. The worst thing is not to do anything – we can rationalise inaction. No-one has the monopoly on what the answer is so it is going to require a lot of divergence and a lot of multiplicity of viewpoints so everyone should be active.

Ron Wakkary

Categories
computing education

Standing on the brink

Elina Eriksson

Even in a future of scarcity, we still need technology, we just have to design it very differently.

Dr Elina Eriksson is interested in issues of usablity and user-centred design to promote change; both organizational change and change in individual behaviour.

Elina has multiple affiliations at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. She is in the School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), the Department of Media Technology and Interaction Design (MID) and in research groups Green Leap and the Centre for Sustainable Communications (CESC).

Talking points

I realised quite early on that I don’t only want to work in computer science in programming, but I also want to get close to people and change stuff – so Human Computer Interaction became my major.

There is definitely a gender issue in how computer science portrays itself.

The Brundtland definition is talked about but it’s not really operationable.

The environmental aspects to sustainability are clearly important, with climate change, but I also feel very strongly for the social side of sustainability.

Circles within circles, we have to live within the bound of our earth.

Sometimes I think we are not good enough at reflecting on what we are doing and why. We can get so enthusiastic about new technology that we don’t really look back at what we are doing.

To create smart sustainable cities we need a bottom up view – what practices are making a difference and how can we help these practices through infrastructure?

Sustainability needs us to work on several different levels at the same time. Both at the policy legislation levels, and to change social norms – the culture.

For HCI this means a focus on norm-critical design. Technology can help people reflect more on their own practices.

HCI has such a suite of methods for helping improve work practices, now is the time to scale that up to the community – to smart cities.

Students report a cognitive dissonance, on one hand they are taught to develop new cool Apps, and on the other we come with our Sustainability course and tell them that this might not be the best way of working.

We focus on predicaments rather than problems. Problems are things we can solve, whereas predicament might be situations that are not solvable.

You have to find ways to work with a predicament, but there might not be one single solution.

We think it is important to be honest with students, that we are standing on the brink.

We try to find a balance between facts and values.

We can’t require them to have a particular value, but we can show…that as soon as we talk about the future, it is no longer a fact based science, it’s about values – what kind of future would we like to have.

ICT is interwoven with everything we do today in society, how much ICT is involved in efficiency, how much our norms and beliefs and culture is based on what we meet in the media

We play a discussion based board game – Gaming in Sustainability through Communication.

(Challenge) integrate sustainability into programme.

As long as the main goal of our education is forcing our students to work in an unsustainable manner, we will never reach a sustainable future.

How can we reach a sustainable future if we still have a consumer society?

Technology is a problem, but it can also solve things, dematerialise and make processes more efficient.

The fundamental problem of working with sustainability – it’s such a big system to change.

Related
Daniel Pargman

Categories
design food

Food as experience

Emilie Baltz

Food is our most fundamental form of consumption

Emilie Baltz is a food designer and artist who has produced Junk Foodie and L.O.V.E. Handbook. She was in Dunedin to keynote at Food Design.

Talking points

Food is a personal material for me…it represents identity, community and culture

Slowness means locality, but also greater awareness

Food is an experimental and experiential material

(Traces) Cultural codes – we have tables, we use utensils…getting rid of all the distance and bringing ourselves back to a place of primitive being, in a sustainability mindset we’re reminding ourselves of the place we exist as humans, that brings us to our primitive level within a civilised state

As food becomes more sanitised, we get further and further away from actual ingredients

Eating, over consumption, we need to look as a part of a whole ecosystem

We’ve created a host of products that depend on systems and those systems and those systems have been very badly constructed.

As designers -and design is about the discipline of order – we’re having to reorder and reframe and redesign those systems for better consequences

Food is at heart one of the issues of over-consumption, so how do we begin to look at that as human behaviour and reorganise it and reframe it?

America…is one of those spaces where there is a great deal of over consumption and inequality of consumption.

The pioneer mindset of eating as much as you can is still in place. Greater conversations and awareness are the beginning.

Working in food brings the opportunity for the conversation to be playful, joyful, not just finger wagging. I don’t believe people change when we wag our fingers at each other. But we do begin to change when we’re in a positive mindset and when we move forward in a positive space and the food and the dining experience helps do that.

This isn’t a regime that says “do this, three times, five times a day in massive quantities”, no, it says “re-imagine the things in front of you, use your imagination, use your creativity to transform the everyday into something else”.

Food is our most fundamental form of consumption

Food is an experience, and it is a highly designed experience

Food is a prop for a narrative, and human behaviour is a certain type of narrative throughout the world…so if we look at our food traditions and food rituals…these affect our most fundamental form of consumption – how we behave and how we consume.

The world problems that are at hand today are magnificent, large and beyond immediate repair…the only thing we can do as individuals is educate ourselves and to go forward with greater positive intent and with greater clarity as to how we want to take action in the world.

I think that there is room and there is necessity for healthy ecosystems, so that means there is space and a demand for luxury, there is space and a demand for joy and delight, there is space and a demand for critical thought and analysis, there is space and demand for better policy making, better justice, but if we can bring all of those systems together and understand where we are powerful and where our voice lies as individual creators I think that’s the greatest form of sustainability.

There’s no solitary linear path to a solution, what there is is a greater ability to speak to each other, greater awareness of the different ways and different flows and different systems and their applications to certain environments – and that’s what begins to create true ecosystems and true methods of sustainability.

From material understanding students can begin to design forays into larger issues at hand – like food justice, looking at food systems, how can we take our understanding of this material and then use it as a new means of communication, and potentially as a new means of being able to reorganise some of these systems that are quite broken.

I don’t think that caring enough to do something is an issue anymore…there’s an understanding that we have a huge amount of things to fix. Designers are specifically focussed on problem solving and end users.

Exploring these great issues through the lens of food is…creating greater empathy and greater joy. It is a material that allows you to make right away…to make, to prototype, to test, to learn and to redo. And that’s goal that everybody wants to get to – to take action in the world – to help something.

Design students come in with empathy…they enter into creativity because they want to help something…if as educators we’re able to help focus them more on problems – real problems – they’re very willing to take that path.

I create different lenses onto the world, to show that there are other ways of thinking, other ways of looking at the material that we consume everyday. I would frame this as participation rather than activism.

Challenges not in projects, more in what choices to make next and what those choices mean for how I want to participate in the world. Until now I’ve had the great privilege to be able to make an incredibly diverse body of work, and great privilege in being able to play in that space and I recognise that fully…moving forward, I have a huge amount of learning, great connections and a wonderful network – how do I want to use that? that is my challenge

Advice: Say yes. Don’t let fear make your decisions for you. Moving forward with a positive mindset that embraces, that says “yes and…” and that allows you to participate in whatever way you can…to participate positively.

Works discussed

Energia
Traces
X-species Adventure Club
Food Design Studio at Pratt Institute
Porcelain Dust Mask Bowl
Junk Foodie
L.O.V.E. Handbook

Categories
education maori

Living and learning as the environment

David McKay

Sustainability is a way of thinking and a way of being. It’s a way of embodiment, it has nothing to do with study, it has nothing to do with opinion, it has to be with way that you be, that you are.

David McKay is a researcher at University of Otago’s CSAFE. His recently completed PhD thesis considers the relationships between Māori cultural perspectives and environmental education policy or practice.

Talking points

As a science and technology based society we tend to assume that technology can solve everything and tend to overlook that we are a biological species and part of the environment rather than separate to it

We tend to overlook the gap between cause and effect in nature that tends to be from twenty and fifty years. So If I do something I won’t know the consequences for about 50 years, in management we tend to manage for about five years…

Fifty year management plans start to acknowledge the ecological gap

(David Orr) teachers need to be specialised generalists

Our problems started when we began to think we were bigger than nature, we got too big for our boots.

The environment doesn’t have a crisis, humans have a crisis.

It’s a bit like a learner surfer – a grommet – out in the big surf and not noticed that all the experienced surfers have gone in before the waves start dumping , in our society we’ve got an invisible wave building, we don’t know how big it is going to be, we don’t know when it is going to crash,but there’s nothing surer than it’s going to crash – there’s going to be consequences for the history that we have, its just a matter of whether we survive or not. That’s why I’m interested in resilience.

We used to have worms on the footpaths after rains, that doesn’t happen any more, but no one is literate enough of the environment to stop and wonder why. That’s an indicator, worms are in soils that are healthy, if there are no worms than our soils aren’t healthy – we manicure everything, nuke our gardens lawns and parks to control what we call pests…the trouble is they’re not discriminate, they kill the pests they kill the worms… and if the chemicals we put in the garden are doing in the worms in the garden it’s doing in you as well.

No one wants to hear what really needs to be said and done because it’s telling that naughty kid that they can’t play with the stick anymore. Same consequences, just more serious than breaking windows – we’re talking about survival and continuance here. We break this environment, evolution is going to carry on with or without us, what we’re playing with is whether we are going to be a part of that or not.

When the consequences are there, it’s too late. 20-50 years of damage and symptoms building up, it’s going to take at least that to undo it.

Environmental Education, Education for Sustainability, it doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s common sense

What does make sense is learning for survival and continuance with integrity

Understandings of environmental education amongst practitioners

There’s nothing in the (environmental education) literature that anything like matches up with the “old ways”.

People interpret the curriculum in a western point of view rather than a holistic view

Could we come up with a multi-cultural paradigm?

For many people the environment is something magical, out there, away from where we are. This totally overlooks that not only are we – you and me – in the environment right now, we are the environment.

Engagement and connection is what’s missing.

We haven’t lost the connection…we’ve forgotten it. We just forgotten that we are part of all that is. we haven’t lost anything, we’re not disconnected, we’ve forgotten what we are.

We are inextricably interconnected, interrelated and interdependent on all that is.

We lose sight of this simplicity – and that’s what we need to rediscover.

Elders tend to speak less, but more cryptically. When they do speak it’s a good idea to listen.

It is part of multi-culture that it is cryptic, there are levels of understanding of the same message. Education is about readiness, if you are up to getting the message then so be it, if you’re not then nothing is wasted.

A taonga said to me “you pakeha fellas, You measure the readiness of our young people by them giving the right answer – what the system wants – we measure readiness by our young people by them asking the right questions, and that is a different thing entirely”.

A very important to learning in traditional Māori ways is critical thinking and individual identity, and having the mana and self confidence to be yourself, and stand to your rights and ask those questions and if it doesn’t match up, to disagree.

Living and learning as the environment or as part of, rather than in the environment, about the environment or even for the environment.

People coming from cooperative societies (the marae)… walking with feet very firmly in both worlds, and that’s something awesome.

In many cultural worlds time has no meaning…but timing is everything.

(David interviewees were) aghast at the thought that anyone could think the other way – how could you not understand that you are related to everything – we are all stardust.

Learning is about actualising the potential of being the best of the best of who you can be, and because it is about being the best of who you can be, and we can never be the same, we can never be taught the same things. In a crisis we all know something a bit different, we all know each others’ strengths and we can all work together very strongly…makes a very strong and resilient community.

Model:

  • Whakapapa, more than genealogy – it’s about learning about relationships/li>
  • Self identity
  • Survival skills
  • Community cohesion
  • Transferal and continuance
  • Everyone is a teacher, everyone is a learner. Learning is a life journey

    I don’t agree that you have to go to pristine areas – ‘the hills are alive with sound of music’ – no, it’s about understanding that we are biological beings and part of ecology. Pure and simple, if you don’t get that then there is no such thing as sustainability.

    We’re learning for well being, and if you’re well then you can be resilient, a little bit of flexibility and adaptability, and then you can survive, and then you can continue.

    It’s like the car accident mentality – it can’t possibly happen to me”, well it is happening, except it’s not an accident, we are causing the disaster.

    Activist? Not really. Educator. I have a reputation for saying what needs to be said, and not necessarily politely. But frankly we haven’t got time to be polite.

    Challenges: Help shift the paradigm.

    Advice: Get out on streets rather than facebook.

    Resources

    David Orr
    Educating as if the earth matters

    Soil erosion rate is about 10 times faster than the rest of the world (PCE report)

    Matauranga taio:
    Guidelines for Environmental Education in NZ

    Categories
    conservation biology marine mammals ocean

    Dolphin Research Australia

    Dolphin Research Australia - Isabela Keski-Franti and Liz Hawkins

    Every little step, every little change that you make is huge.

    In the last of the Sustainable Lens #whaleofasummer series we are joined by Dolphin Research Australia‘s Dr Liz Hawkins and Isabella Keski-Franti. They talk about research, education and Indigenous Management Frameworks

    As well as academic performance, students have to have character strength, they have to have a feeling of citizenship – they have to belong.

    Students have to remember that they belong in the ecosystem.

    Children are very curious, they want to know what is around them, it’s a matter of providing them with opportunities

    One of our traditions is to give something back to our host, so how can we show gratitude and respect for nature and place?

    (On kids fund raising to adopt a dolphin) It’s the interconnectedness of everything, that makes them understand the importance of saving an animal, that even though they don’t have a direct connection but they are doing something – this is empowering them in becoming a citizen – an active citizen in their community.

    If you want to live in the dolphin’s world you would need to lose your eyes

    Everybody can make the changes, everybody has a right to be different

    There is a role for all of us – if you do what your character strength is

    Making the change through connecting with children – helping them shift the status quo of our society.

    To talk about an inter-generational future, we need to connect with our children and help them make connections with their ecosystem – this is activism. We need to be part of the ecosystems and working together.

    We create our world, our reality, dependent on the changes we make.

    (Isabela on challenges for the future) I find myself in a really good place. I am really doing what I love – what I feel connected with. I am an optimistic person. I live every day at a time. I have hope for the future, and I think my work with children helps a lot. And I’m working with people who are passionate about it. This helps a lot, and I’m blessed to be working with people that have great integrity, ethics and works as a team. So I can’t see challenge right now. Life is exciting.

    (liz on challenges for the future). It’s always challenging keeping an NGO afloat – making science sexy to attract and attracting community support.

    Every little step, every little change that you make is huge. So don’t feel overwhelmed by the news or what is happening around you. Focus on every little change that you make on a daily basis.

    (Am I an activist?). I don’t like labels to be honest because I think they limit us. I like to think of myself as…everybody can make the changes, bit everybody has a right to be different. You don’t have to either be one thing or another. There is a place for everybody.
    (I was very busy designing our dolphin education programme and someone asked me to a protest about oil seam coal mining)…I would like to be there, but I didn’t find it in me to be there because I was so excited about designing our programme, my insight was I didn’t have to be there – there is a place for everybody. We need the role of all of us – we do what our character strength is.
    If I am making the change through connecting with children, helping them shift the status quo of our society – the focus inter-generationally speaking, for the families and our future – I see this as an activism. If others want to be more actively participating in manifests…I think that’s perfect we need all these ecosystems working together,

    This is the last in the Sustainable Lens #whaleofasummer series recorded during the Biennial Conference of the Marine Mammals Society.

    Categories
    conservation biology marine mammals ocean

    Saving whale habitats

    Sarah Courbis

    Not so much about saving the animal as the ecosystem where they live – habitat destruction is the biggest threat to almost every animal on the planet

    Dr Sarah Courbis is a Research Associate at Portland State University, specialising in whales and mammals in Hawaii.

    This is the fifth in the Sustainable Lens #whaleofasummer series recorded during the Biennial Conference of the Marine Mammals Society. Sarah’s attendance at the conference was provided by the Conservation Council of Hawaii and Honua (Hoe-New-ah) Consulting.

    We don’t need to anthropomorphise to make them interesting

    They are really amazing social animals with lots of cool behaviours and intricate relationships

    (Am I an activist?). I wouldn’t say that. I do have opinions. But as a scientist it is really important for me to go into a situation and do my research without having a desired outcome – I just want to see what’s true. Whether or not that supports my opinion, maybe I’ll need to change my opinion. I don’t think activist is a good way to describe my approach to things, but I would say I am an environmentalist, and I do think that it is important that we do understand and take care of our environment – and I’m hoping to do my little part to help that.

    Categories
    business marketing

    Sustainable entrepreneurship

    Brendan Gray

    My heart is not in a place that is focussed solely on making money, business has to be about more than that.

    Prof Brendan Gray specialises in marketing, strategy and entrepreneurship with a focus on sustainable entrepreneurship, particularly in the Pacific. Recently he hosted the Climate Smart Entrepreneurship symposium.

    Pacific Island communities are among the first to feel the effects of anthropogenic climate change, with increasingly severe storms, high tides, rising sea levels and salination of fresh water supplies negatively affecting their lives. These impacts, plus other ecological problems and natural disasters, make it difficult for at-risk communities to become economically and socially resilient.

    For years we’ve been told to buy more, more frequently, and for less. It’s not surprising that “don’t buy stuff” is such a challenge.

    Note: We apologise for the somewhat strained sound in parts of this interview. Sam got it wrong. Geoff had to rescue it. Thanks Geoff.

    Categories
    communication science

    The story and the science

    Jean Fleming

    The good story will always win – even over facts, so we need to make sure science has both the story and the facts right

    Jean Fleming is a Professor of Science Communication in the University of Otago’s Centre for Science Communication, where she convenes the Popularising Science MSciComm. She is also a reproductive biologist in the Department of Anatomy, with research interests in the molecular and cellular origins of ovarian cancer.

    Talking points:

    information is easy, but there are no easy answers for attitudes and wisdom. Emotional connections through stories.

    not everyone can look at the bigger picture, science communication can help with that

    Science communication is jolly good fun

    You can’t stop people believing the wrong information, we’ve got masses of information out there – information not wisdom, and people will believe what they feel comfortable with

    With that masses of scientific information emerging, perhaps too much for people to digest – we need to help tell the stories

    rise and rise of market and corporate idea that science must make a buck

    Somehow we have to step down from growth

    Despite all evidence, great denial about Climate Change, (mostly engineered by vested interests).

    People do need to know what is happening to contribute to societal debate

    (Am I an activist ?). Not quite yet, I’ve got to retire first next year. (Alan Mark said he was an activist, a requirement of an academic), actually yes, I’ve been an activist all my life. When I went to the royal commission on GM I had to suddenly wear a bra, and be like a judge, and so that really put the kibosh on me being a real activist for quite a while – I’m just beginning to come out the other end now. I was a great feminist in the 70s and 80s. And that got knocked out of me but the dark is rising.

    Shane’s number of the week: 10. Ten years of Pacific cooling. In the last 10 years there has been a slowing in the increase in temperature across the globe from that predicted by the increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. So since about 1970 the increase in global temperature has tracked the increase in CO2 levels very closely until about 10 years ago when the correlation started to diverge. Climate change deniers have made much of this and it has been a bit of a mystery – until now. There is a cooling effect on the atmosphere – one of the many long term climate altering cycles… so Waters in the eastern tropical regions of the Pacific have been notably cooler in recent years, owing to the effects of one of the world’s biggest ocean circulatory systems, the Pacific decadal oscillation. Here in the pacific we are used to El Nino and El Nina affecting our weather and climate patterns but this is a longer cycle which brings cooler weather and can last decades. The last time this oscillation was in its cooling phase was back from the 1940s to the 1970s (Scripps Institution of Oceanography and supported by the US government’s National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration NOAA, and was published in the journal Nature).

    Sam’s joined-up-thinking: The Audacious Student Business Challenge has expanded this year to encourage business for good with a social enterprise category. It has also moved to encourage wider participation with a new crowd-sourcing platform Skulksource. You can encourage the development of sustainable start-ups by voting for the fledgling businesses such as:

      • Spread the Help: Spread your donation across multiple charities, and Spread your Help to your community, by giving.
      • Resource Locus: Resource Locus proposes to foster farmers’ market culture by providing an online meeting place.
      • Flowbot: An innovative, reusable drink bottle to help fight obesity in kids through interactive design.
      • Ecoplug: EcoPlug is a simple way of bringing homes and offices into the 21st century
      • Dunedin Street Bikes: Using on-street fleets of bikes to improve social mobility, the environmental image of Dunedin & its economic development
      • Fur Retreival: Ethical Possum eradication to ensure the sustainability of the eco-system through natural methods
      • Humblebee: Taking the toxic out of protective textiles and staying dry in a deluge using nature’s ancient tech
      • Farmscape: An educational game that teaches people about sustainable agriculture. #farmerfromwayback
      • Eureka Energy: Eureka energy provides small energy solution to create a more sustainible future
      • Fixing Faults: Fixing Faults gives you the space, skills and resources to turn your boring junk into funk!
      • HandiConnect: HandiConnect – Connect handicaps to the world and help them live a life with no difference.
    Categories
    business food permaculture

    Growing change

    Jon Foote

    Private property, trespassers will be given apples

    Jon Foote has ten year’s banking and business development experience in Sydney. He has permaculture qualifications and busy permaculture design business ReScape. Jon is well underway with development of the Resilience Education Centre.

    we are not separate from nature, whether we get it or not

    Jon’s moment of realisation: you know this is what the world needs

    nothing will change without action

    Permaculture is not an invention, it’s a repackaging of everything done before

    (Am I an activist?). I guess so, I wouldn’t paint myself with a full activist brush. I’m passionate about the belief that we have a way out of the current situation and that we need to act on it. Nothing will change without action, and action in a positive direction is great. I’m not a big protester or create…what most activists do, and chain themselves to trees…I did a bit of that in Sydney and realised, you know I’m not achieving a lot – I’d rather go out and teach everyone how to grow food. The activist part of me says ‘you know if we grew our own food, and we had organic farmers, and lots of local systems going on, that in itself will bring down the industrial food system’. So in a way I may be an activist, but I want to do it in a way that is positive so that people can work towards something that is actually beneficial – its not just grumping about things that are wrong. So let’s do the things that are right.

    Categories
    communication science

    Story. Story. Story.

    Lloyd Davis

    If you’ve got bad news, don’t hit them over the head with a hammer – give them hope

    Lloyd Spencer Davis is the Stuart Professor of Science Communication and Director of the The Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago. He is a leading authority on penguins and sociobiology – behavioural ecology from an evolutionary perspective. He is also an award winning author and filmmaker. In his Looking for Darwin he manages to squeeze the science of evolution into a rollicking yarn of travel and personal discovery. We explore the relationship between science and communication. Putting him on the spot, we ask for the top three things a budding science communicator must do. “Story” he says. Three times.

    Focus on the story, and use whatever device you can to get that story told. Jeopardy, tension, star presenters. The package must be exciting.

    People are turned off by stories of doom – they want hope. The story must empower them, even if the news is bad you can do something about it.

    Categories
    architecture design

    Architectural games: designing complex emergent systems

    Ann Pendleton-Jullian

    It is not about how you necessarily design a finished object, but how do you design the conditions for that object to emerge?

    Ann Pendleton-Jullian is an architect, writer, and educator whose work explores the interchange between culture, environment, and technology. She brings to sustainability her experience in architecture – but it’s not all about buildings. She says it is “not about how you necessarily design a finished object, but how do you design the conditions for that object to emerge?”.  In her studio she goes “beyond a complex juggling act of all the conditions” to adopt a ludic design process.

    games by nature…are the way by which we push boundaries of the conditions that reality gives us, and in pushing boundaries – identity boundaries, physical boundaries – we test out alternative possibilities and they are very constructive for moving society forward.

    it’s trickery, they’re designing complex adaptive systems without knowing they’re doing it at first

    The four themes she consistently publishes on are:

    • emergent forms of architecture and urbanism
    • game design as a way to tool the mind to work with and design complex emergent systems
    • design and education innovation
    • architectural analysis and theory about anything that has to do with the intersection of culture, technology and the natural and built environment within a global ecology.
    • Until we have shifted from a narrative of guilt and fear to a narrative of desire it’s going to be a real hard thing to win

    Ann Pendleton-Jullian was in New Zealand to give a keynote speech at HERDSA13.  The title of her talk was Upside Down and Inside Out. The Future of the University as a Design Problem.

    Some of the works referenced in our conversation:

     

    Categories
    behaviour change computing

    Environmental impact of digital transformation

    Chris Preist

     Helping people who are motivated by social good to frame it in terms business will understand.

    Dr Chris Preist is Reader in Sustainability and Computer Systems at the University of Bristol.  In this role he is working on tools to “bridge the gap”, he hopes to help provide “a way of thinking about their concern for social good, into their professional lives”.

    In this conversation we discuss how this came about in Chris’ career, this balance of technical work and deeper – perhaps spiritual – understanding.    He now teaches Sustainability, Technology and Business within a computer science degree.   Rather than a “litany of doom” he sees the courses as presenting ways of thinking about how to integrate social good with professional lives.

    Chris and his colleagues are currently exploring crowdsourcing and gamification for the Close the Door campaign.   “Normification” is the key he says, what are the mechanisms for spreading changes of social norm?

    He has worked in association with Forum for the Future, working with Guardian News and Media to investigate the environmental impact of their digital transformation, with particular reference to changes in business models and customer behaviour.  Prior to joining Bristol, he was Principal Scientist and Head of UK research on sustainable IT systems at Hewlett Packard Labs (HP Labs), Bristol.  In this role, he led a team of 6 researchers who carried out research assessing the sustainability impacts of alternative business models for the personal computer and digital printing industry, and information management and presentation of sustainability data to enhance decision making.

    Categories
    education

    Empowering to make a difference

    Linus Turner proudly describes himself as a teacher. His twitter one line bio states “Preparing children for their world …preparing their world for them …you wouldn’t want to do anything else!”.

    We are the ancestors

    In a packed hour we discover how Linus is teaching independence and interdependence by empowering his students to make a difference. HoD of Computing at Kavanagh College, Linus argues that the future is digital – our digital world is flat and seamless – we can contact anyone. So when his students are working on Equador’s Yasuní National Park they write to Gareth, Rafael and Helen (he uses christian names to emphasise the social connectedness, these are people too who respond to communication). This gives a reason for learning IT skills – writing to all MPs needs a database, and a brochure on a long term strategy for Dunedin trees needs desktop publishing, and so on.

    Inspire hope: engender action

    Linus carefully manages to run a line of empowering students, but without dumping upon them all the responsibility to fix the world: “we are the adults, it is up to us to model right thinking and action”. It’s important for kids to see progress, sometimes if the students take on something too large he has to say “Ok, we’ll take it from here, we’re the grown ups”. As adults it is our job to be creating a safe world.

    Shane’s number of the week: 77. The age of the Athens retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas who shot himself in the Greek capital’s Syntagma Square. In a note he said the government had made it impossible for him to survive on the pension he had paid into for 35 years. “I find no other solution than a dignified end before I start searching through the trash for food,” read the note.

    Sam’s joined-up-thinking: Google glasses could be the future of how we see sustainably (read on>>>).

    Trainspotting: In case you’re not on first name basis: Green MP Gareth Hughes,President of Equador Rafael Correa, and UNDP chief Helen Clark.

    Categories
    education

    John Mann

    Imagine a country on a par with prosperous and cosmopolitan Bangkok.  50 years ago Phnom Penh was the “pearl of the orient”.    Then, devastated by decades of invasion, topped by Pol Pot’s genocidal Khmer Rouge years, the capital is now regarded as world head-quarters of pedophilia and squalor.   The heavily populated rural areas fared worse in Pol Pot’s  misguided agrarian revolution.

    Imagine an area of 12 villages where no one has been to school.  Ever.   Where twelve hours work gets a dollar a day.  Where there is no social welfare of any description.  Where ordinary families want the best for their children but know that in the short run the only option is to succumb to the sex industry.

    The only way out this trap for families of these villages of Don Kong in the Kamchay Mear district of Prey Veng is education – at the very least to able to read and write their own language.

    The Cambodian government and a world full of agencies are desperately trying to deal with this.  But until there is a new generation of educated people, it cannot be reversed.

    With help of friends, family, and donors around the world, and in particular the Rotary clubs of Australia (so far), John has got 1000 children into three new schools.  Our next project is – he hopes – a high school and a clinic.   None 0f this can happen without your help.    John Mann gives a truly astonishing interview.

     

    Shane’s number of the week: 20,000 hectares of new rain-forest as part of  Willie Smits’  Orangutan habitat restoration.

    Sam’s joined-up-thinking: There is not going to be a singular event that definitively  signals “peak oil is happening now”.   Climate Change is the same.   With gradual and insidious change (though with increasing occurrence of catastrophic events in both scenarios) decisions made now need to made in the context of the knowledge of those scenarios.

    More on John’s Educating Cambodia:

    http://www.rotaryeclubone.org/articles/2009-Rotary/0209-Cambodian_Village_Builds_Rotary_School.htm
    www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DqW9F3S8MBt0 www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW9F3S8MBt0

    http://computingforsustainability.wordpress.com/2009/03/06/and-the-award-for-the-most-inspiring-dad-goes-to/

    http://computingforsustainability.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/update-from-dad-in-cambodia/