September 1, 2009
Great film. Please go and see it or put on a screening if you haven’t seen it already.
It puts the case for doing something to avoid a future climate disaster. But what can you practically do now? That’s the question that 10:10 answers. Reduce your carbon footprint 10% in 2010. Not that hard, just takes a small behaviour change or two and there you are, part of the (positive) future.
Sign up, take on the future and Do Something:
One of the actions you can take on as a part of you 10:10 action is to join an EcoTeam, to work with you community or group of friends to measure and reduce your energy, water, waste and travel in a small group working together. By measuring your resource use, and making your results visible, you get to see how you can change your behaviour. Doing this in community helps you make a change and feel good about it, by doing it together.
I spend most of my days building and enhancing the EcoTeams website and measurement and reporting tools, so I’ve seen it work and have seen the positive, carbon saving, money saving results that people get from it. 10% is achievable and worth doing. You save the planet and save money and feel good. Beat that.
March 20, 2009
|24 March, 2009|
|6:00 pm||to||10:00 pm|
I’m giving a talk at the first Twitter Developer Nest in London next Tuesday, with a talk titled You are a Neuron, on something that has been floating around in the back of the old mind for a bit. It is less of a technical ‘how to make this’ or ‘how I made this’ developer talk, and more of a call-to-arms or provocation to developers.
I’m going to step back from Twitter and look at the whole of it. And draw some parallels with other things in the world, like your brain.
It ought to be a bit of fun and provoke some new thinking. I’m thinking we need to go a bit deeper with these social utilities and really think about why something like Twitter is attactive and interesting. I’m quite sure it is not just about my friends and I having a chat.
Anyway, I’ll post slides and stuff as they come together.
February 10, 2009
Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, has today announced Google PowerMeter, a tool that will take energy consumption data from smart household energy meters and make the data available and easy to understand.
This will be very useful to bring social energy measurement alive, where you and I can compare our energy use and work out how to reduce it. It helps that Google.org are also pushing for free and open access to energy data for consumers. This from their December submission to Californian energy regulators:
Accordingly, Google urges the Commission to include the following principles in its smart grid policy, discussed in greater detail below:
- Consumers should have direct access to real-time electricity usage information.
- Electricity usage information should be freely available to consumers.
- Electricity usage data should be made available in a standardized, open format, freely available to third-parties with permission from the consumer.
Freely available, standardised, open access to real-time energy data. Once consumers have that, they can close the loop and easily reduce consumption.
The Google PowerMeter looks like access to smart meter billing information placed into some energy visualizations tools, and what also looks like some detection of the signature of particular appliances energy use.
Here’s an introductory video:
That all looks very cool.
The part that really interests me is that this gives a big push forward for open access to energy data, which then allow a whole ecosystem of tools and applications to develop to aid people in reducing their energy consumption, CO2 emissions, and money spent on energy.
Once we can make these energy measurements available, we can make them social, compare with each other, learn and save energy.
For a long time the big energy industries haven’t been too interested in opening up and giving us information, especially real-time information.
Let’s hope PowerMeter comes out of testing soon, and we get to see it operating here in the UK. And let’s get these open standards up and running ASAP. We’ve got a lot of measuring to do and changes to make to bring our energy consumption down.
February 3, 2009
Let the world change you and you can change the world.
(Deje el mundo cambiarle y usted puede cambiar el mundo.)
– Che Guevara
In this post, I (Graeme) will talk a bit about my past, and how that rather neatly scaffolds the future. How the world has changed me and how that helps me move on to change the world. This is part storytelling, part announcement.
First, the announcement:
I’m going to start intentionally focussing most of my blog postings here at Nodestone on CO2 and carbon calculators, carbon footprints, carbon pricing and offsets, and most importantly, social measurement and reporting to help reduce our CO2 production.
Note: Libby is still going to be posting on authenticity in blogging, social media, education etc, making it accessible for all — those topics that she’s working on out in the world.
Why blog about this stuff?
Because this is what I’m working on, as a consultant, architect and developer, bringing systems engineering, web tools and social media to bear on CO2 measurement and reporting.
And now the story:
I grew up a son of big oil. My parents met while both working for BP. My Dad, Don Sutherland, was Operations Superintendent for the BP Oil Refinery in Kwinana, Western Australia. He was, as I understand, responsible for the day to day operations of the place. We’d probably call that role COO these days. He had hundreds of people working under him to keep things safe and running smoothly. No easy job. Refining oil is a high-pressure, high-temperature, dangerous process that you have to get right, or Things Go Boom.
So, the family was, as we might say now, in the Energy business.
Fast forward to 1999.
I started using my skills as a systems engineer and software developer to build tools for energy management, in particular lighting automation for very large buildings Buildings like 60 story office blocks and massive stadiums. Lots of lights, massive energy use and energy costs, so managing the lighting to bring the energy usage down is a very good thing, and makes the sort of work I was doing quite valuable. We sold that product to a major control systems maker, and then I worked to refine that product for some years as their business grew. Energy was getting more expensive, and the return on investment kept improving. That product is now installed all over the place in massive public buildings (eg. Sydney Opera House, Wembley Stadium), saving energy day after day.
Amongst all of that, my partner Libby and I put a lot of effort into bringing the issues of sustainability and particularly sustainable business to the fore via the Sustainable Business Network we formed in 1999. We were a bit early there, the popular consciousness hadn’t really grok’d climate change at that point, but we met and talked with a lot of people who had understood sustainability and gained a lot of insight into what is was all about.
We moved back to the UK in 2006. And after spending a bit of time pricing derivatives in investment banking land (very useful when it comes to carbon pricing), I was back in energy conservation and reporting again, and have spent the last 18 months developing social tools for groups to measure and report together to cement behaviour change. And building more energy management tools. And building carbon and ROI calculators. I’ve been speaking at Barcamp about resilience, building a local solar-powered internet as an exercise in using less energy.
So, it seems like now is the time to take CO2 measurement and reporting to the next level. Let’s make it social. We’re entering a world where the amount we use does matter, we accept that. Fortunately we have the communications tools to make us more aware of what we are using. That supports resource conservation and, ultimately, could help turn the tide on climate change. The big goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. That’s been legislated. Which means businesses and households are going to have to get used to measuring, reporting on, and using less energy.
It all sounds do-able to me. Let’s make it happen.
January 11, 2009
If you haven’t checked it out yet, have a good look at Message in-a-Box “A toolkit for communicating your cause”.
It’s relevant to anyone that needs to communicate in life and work.
When Nodestone was commissioned by the Tactical Tech Collective earlier in the year to help bring it together, I faced a somewhat overwhelming task as you might imagine when you see it.
What is it? A rather large online resource for learning how to communicate better, to put it simply.
More specifically, it’s an international educational platform for people in NGOs and campaigning organisations that demonstrates how to use low-tech and high-tech tools and tactics to work on some of the hardest issues of our times.
We show you how to think strategically (about goals, resources and time) and then know which tools and tactics (eg. images / print / audio / video / internet / mobiles and media) to choose to get your message across.
Here’s how Tactical Tech describe it:
“…a set of strategic guides to using communications tools for social change, together with a suite of open source tools to get you making your own media. The toolkit is designed for small and medium-sized NGOs, advocates, and citizen journalists to help them create and distribute content for their advocacy efforts while exploring the constantly evolving world of campaigning and communications.”
The feedback has been excellent around the world. A much needed resource.
Here’s an example of how it works:
This section helps you find out how others have used images effectively and creatively. It helps you learn how to find, create, edit, share great images, with an emphasis on photographs, comics, maps and simple animated images.
Images add impact to stories, blog posts, websites, posters,brochures, email campaigns – whatever campaigning channels and tools you are using.
What do you need?
Essential: ideas, creativity, imagination, a strategy.
Extra: people to help, internet access, mobile phone and/or a camera (digital or other), source books/comics/cartoons collected from anywhere or commissioned.
Having worked in communications as a consultant, writer, activism and educator for (gosh!) over 20 years, it was a dream to be able to put these threads of life to good use. To make something practical and tangible.
Message-in-a-Box is about the power of PR being brought to the people who have historically had least access to it. Things were all explained in the simplest possible terms with examples and free software downloads. From human rights abuses to clean water – NGOs on little or no budget obviously need education and support. It’s an egalitarian Aussie’s delight.
In London, Botswana or Mumbai, Message-in-a-Box is now available for free, 24/7. A print version with DVD software is also being distributed. It’s actually a good resource for anyone a clear (hopefully) perspective on getting your message across.
Along the way we got to massage the words and ideas of some great folk like Becky Faith, Dr Dan McQuillan and Heleana Quartey. Hopefully to first incarnation is already being put to some good use.
Once thing I’m hoping Tactical Tech do soon is to improve collaboration and “stickiness” on the site. Feedback, registration etc… Also the use of images and stills, sound and video clips to make the resource more visual and interactive – to practice what we preach!
Over the years we have increasingly worked on projects that pass positive screens for social / eco accountability. Put another way… that feel good. Like:
- widgets for TrickleStar and the BBC
- social carbon measurement for Global Action Plan
- edu-marketing for the Guerrand Hermes Foundation for Peace
- teaching blogging to communities and companies
- setting up The Big Love Gift Guide
- running a massive campaign for TV Turn Off Week.
But as long as you aren’t arms dealers, we can usually find or create some positive values in just about any project. Get in touch if you want to know how Nodestone can help you feel good about your work.
December 17, 2008
The Open Rights Group has put a survey online that leads you through a quick 28 questions and then reports how many times your private records have been lost by bungling government and private organisations recently. Those are my results above. 2 possible losses, one certain.
Do this. Get a sense of what data loss means and why it matters to you. Oh, and the Open Rights Group really needs your support.
November 27, 2008
When The Werks opened last spring, Brighton got it’s first proper coworking venue: A place you could go and work with others for minimal cost in a supportive and like minded community, on a formal or informal basis. The Werks is a superb blend of community, professional workspace, learning, collaboration tool and party. I’m there a few days a week at the moment and love it.
However, Brighton being Brighton, and as the days close in, we’ve now got two other proper coworking options to try out.
The Skiff is a small, bright space in the heart of Brighton’s North Lanes. Good food, drink and coffee are close by, and your hosts, the crew from Inuda, are open, sharing and all around good value. Pink chairs, nautical-themed room names and Bills just around the corner add to the fun. And they said I can bring in the puppy too :-)
And to get down by the seaside, opening any day now is upstairs @ gemini’s, the much talked about geek bar made real. This is a licensed space, with wifi, food, and open late, and will become the key venue for local social media and geek events. What an alternative. At the seaside, coworking.
Ah, Brighton, we luves ya.
And that brings up two things that we’ve been chatting about:
- How do we find each other when we are all coworking all over town? We need microdopplr for that.
- and.. Can we have a Brighton-wide coworking card, that supports all of the coworking spaces to support diversity of spaces and having different places for different moods?
If you haven’t tried coworking, come down and try it. You’ll be amazed by how much work gets done and how useful and fun it is to have like minds around.
November 26, 2008
A note for our clients that are into the corporate details: As of 19th November, we officially renamed our company to Nodestone Limited from the previous name, Presence Labs Limited. Bank accounts and cheques and all of that are now in the process of changing. We’ll let you know on invoices and by letter if there’s anything you need to know or change.
November 11, 2008
I’ve given up my permanent desk at the werks and am turning into a 2-3 day a week coworker. Regulars in the first floor garden room might see the empty desk and wonder. Let me explain what’s going on.
We’ve got this puppy, see. :-)
And she needs company at home, so for the moment I’m normally working from home on Monday and Tuesday, and will be out and about at the werks and with clients etc on Wednesday through Friday.
October 9, 2008
The Future of Web Apps spent thursday afternoon in that pleasant reality that is the most positive future. What I mean by that was we were all buying into business as usual — there’s a rich VC market waiting to snap up and fund innovations and we all have a shot at being rich, well, any time now.
But before I get into that, here’s a review of this afternoon’s sessions:
I missed most of Alvin Woon’s presentation, but took away this, badly paraphrased: You can do user centered design with users that domn’t know what they want. If users have never had it before, the can’t know what they want. There’s something wise and hopeless in there. Mostly a cry for iterating to solutions. Building something new is learning, for all involved. The learning journey is the key here.
XMPP and PubSub
Blaine Cook was back on the stage talking about XMPP and PubSub as a way out of endless wasted polling of site A by site B looking for, say twitter updates. It sounds great. I’m a huge fan of XMPP as a mechamism for handling the more complex connection cases than simple HTTP. Good stuff. I asked a question about the requirement of the server, now, to have to manage potentially millions of subscriptions. Blaine says it will be no worse than current, but I’m still left feeling that my app that is PubSub aware is going to be having to keep some sort of state for the potential millions of connections. I’m not sure about this, just a feeling. I’m dying to do some XMPP experimentation soon, maybe with secret project BrightLunch or something.
Dave Recordon from Six Apart did some nice work on stage, putting the case for open standards, like OpenId, OAuth, microformats etc as the essential next steps in blowing the social web wide open to all. Thanks Dave, it made sense and was a compelling case for all the pen tech that you and yours been working on.
Objective J and Cappucino
Thanks Francisco. Interesting. Not sure I want or need Cappucino, though. Unless I was quickly making a desktop app for the web, but not sure I want to replace a desktop app with a web app just because I can. Sorry, but it all felt a bit 4GLly to me. “We’ll solve all your problems for you, etc….”
The Pitch Competition
Are we noticing what is going on out in the real world? The pitch comp felt a bit weird. I’m sure I saw the panel talk down at a solid business model that might work now and encourage the pitcher to go for some model of giving it all away for free for a bit. Maybe they were right, but I’m getting the feeling that we’re in a bit of an unreal bubble. The economy and banks are in trouble, and we’re still going on like there’s a lot of hot VC cash for your ideas. Is that true? Or are we living in a cute little bubble for the next couple of days.
A great day all around, though. Thanks Carsonified people, and especially Mike for the handwritten note on the postcard attached to my badge. And as the train pulls into Brighton, I’m ready to do it all again tomorrow,