Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Peak production, peak waste, social media and Must Ignore

I enjoyed Tim O'Reilly's post today, Waking up from the 'Nightmare on Tech Street', itself a response to Om Malik's recent piece. Finally, I felt, someone was touching on the upside of oil demands finally declining, or celebrating the slowdown in our culture of excessive consumerism.

As he notes, peak production usually equals peak waste:

In a recent conversation with my daughter Arwen and son-in-law Saul Griffith, Matt Webb remarked that he'd like 2008 to be remembered as the year of "peak consumption." Saul pointed out, though, that the term "peak waste" is perhaps more accurate. In an analogy to peak oil, he suggested that maybe we've reached the pinnacle of waste in our consumer culture. I do wonder if we will look back at the past few decades as a kind of sick aberration rather than a golden age, with good times we want to get back to. Like Saul, I'm hopeful that we can get rid of the waste, and get back to creating things of lasting value.

I've heard the term waste applied in another way lately, in regard to people spending time in social sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. These pundits usually follow such comments with an aside like, "I don't need to be talking to people about what I just ate for lunch." And then, of course, people laugh, thinking, Oh, those silly, wasteful twitterers.

Those of us that actually use Twitter may have another perspective: perhaps this is a lean, efficient mode of communication. Perhaps a glance at it a few times a day can lead to unexpected insights and help build better relationships. And maybe even be a little bit fun.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Whoever killed the Dinosaurs, please stand up.

So it turns out that, perhaps, Dinosaurs were felled not by a gigantic asteroid, but by tons of sulfur polluting the atmosphere. Think of the smell!

Whichever theory will prove true remains to be seen, but we see this again and again: sufficient evidence over sufficient time leads us to a worldview which feels more and more like fact. Facts that we make decisions on. Facts that that lend concreteness to our lives.

How many arguments have been made for asteroid research and defense techniques that cite the extinction of dinasaurs?  Many. If Volcanoes turn out to be the true culprit, do we know which policies or government programs should be revisited to see if they are still valid?