Hi! It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything on here, and this is for a couple of reasons:
2. I’ve been traveling to Africa and engaged in a rad project (Project Mwana) with UNICEF innovation. You can read some blog posts about our trip, a few authored by me, on frog’s Design Mind blog frogs on the road.
3. I’ve bought a house. The house I was renting. Lots of work to do.
4. I have an awesome, now live-in boyfriend who does enough blogging for the both of us.
So, my apologies for not being here more often. Until I come back, you can find me digitally at #1 and #2, and in analog at #3 with #4.
Greenpeace’s recent attention on data centers has lead to a bit of thinking, which lead to a spooky realization: we are further and further abstracting our consumption.
Let’s think back (this is highly generalized and simplified): First, we abstracted our means of obtaining food from hunting and gathering to relying on commercialized agriculture, allowing us to stop seeking and rather simply acquire food. Next, with industrialization came outsourcing of product, thus we were no longer strongly associated with the production of the objects we were using (and a much wider range of objects were available to us at a rapidly decreasing price point). After that came outsourcing of production of food and tools to overseas sites, removing even our geographic ties to how the things we consume are made in order to get them made ” better,” faster, and cheaper.
As we’re in the thick of a domestic (American) movement of going back to basics – desiring a part in the development and cultivation of things we consume that are physical (like food, furniture, the objects we use) – we’re becoming tremendously reliant on less tangible things like network-based services, and these things rely on data centers that are enormously energy consumptive (amazingly, the EPA’s already on it). However, since these services are more and more removed from us – similarly to how manufacturing was from the industrial revolution on to offshoring – we’re not quite savvy as to how much we’re consuming, and in this case it’s rather difficult for us to even understanding what it is we’re consuming in the first place. We want to know where our things come from and want them to be sustainable, not made out of plastic, locally grown, etc, and we’re visibly conscious of what we’re buying, eating, and doing – what kind of car we’re driving and how we’re doing our part to save the earth, so to speak. All this as we’re developing patterns of using technology in a way that’s extremely wasteful, if in a way that is invisible to us.
So, how do we solve this? Do we educate on the practical underpinnings of technological advancements the same way we’ve (reactively) been educated that plastic is bad, local is good and that single-body aluminum MacbookPros are more material/production efficient? As product designers, we were tasked with addressing “sustainability” long before the term or concept were part of the public vernacular – so is it now our responsibility to address this new means of consumption in order to design more responsible behavior into products?
Note: There are some interesting advancements made in this space, such as Google’s goal to recycle a majority of water used in their data centers.
This is awesome for a few reasons:
1. This Dave Carroll guy wrote a moderately catchy song about a customer service gripe. He made something totally miserable into something entertaining. I guess country musicians are pretty good at this.
2. Millions of people will likely watch this video/hear this song, making the interwebs reign supreme once again as a conduit for communication.
…and my favorite..
3. Dave (as well as many other people who post and share customer service/product/brand problems online) is a great example of how the interaction between a company and the customer is one of the most precious things that company has, and it can make (or break, in this case) customer loyalty. With such competitive airfare available, it isn’t difficult for travelers to opt for a competitive airline (say Delta, Continental or even Southwest) for travel based on hearing about/dancing to this incident.
I know I talk about this magazine ruling all the time, but today I just want to go on the record as saying that GOOD is also, more than often, way ahead of the curve.
case in point:
What’s Up, Doc?
Fast Company, 5/1/2009:
The Doctor of the Future
They also have infographics depicting just about anything you’d want to learn about, usually in a super beautiful manner. <3