Monday, March 16, 2009

Sustainability and Social Media: Accelerating change

Sustainability and social media are two hot topics in the world. And while many of the challenges facing human society require highly technical communications, the rise of social media enables peer-to-peer communications around oftentimes technical knowledge domains.

The panel discusses the application of knowledge and community-thru social media-to faciliate human sustainability.

Let the panel begin...

Some Definitions:

What is sustainability? being able to maintain a process or state. For humans, using no more resources than we can replenish.

It's also about using resources in a way that doesn't diminish a resources' ability to replenish.

For much of human work, this means applying knowledge rather than labor.

Social media is publishing...PLUS participation and interactivity. 

Types of Social Media and Sustainability (Lebkowsky)

Types of social media applications to sustainability:

  • Knowledge Production + Sharing . 
  • Robust advocacy
  • Crowdsourced knowledge
  • Communities of efficiency
  • Guerilla R+D

Examples include around awareness building, BrightGreenLiving wiki, and

Who is Max Gladwell? He beleives that there is a heroic, green living component that is consistent with  entrepreneurship...which is where much of the social media domain resides. 

The idea that where social media and green living overlap is the opportunity for creating change in our agricultural, energy and transportation systems. Social media represents a change in the information systems...sustainability and social media share much of the same DNA. 

Green OR sustainability (McElhenney)

Reduced costs, increased productivity use less energy and water.
Reduced environmental impact.
Improved health.

These are the reasons for green living and it's corrollary--sustainability

Social media is just PR with new tools [except that you are your own gatekeeper!].  

Greenwashing: Companies disingenuously spinning thier product and policies as environmentally friendly.

How do greenies connect? Communities, Twitter, In person, By Affinities and Passions [just like the rest of the world].

What can we do? Connect, speak out, discover and share solutions, and join forces. When joining forces, we can demand accountability, ask questions, and reduce, recycle, reuse and retweet.

[And now the twitterers are revolting...'Terrible panel'; 'What about the electricity that social media uses?'...there is a certain assertive quality of the panel that the twitterers are asserting their right to challenge]. (Emily Gertz)

Not everyone has the means, opportunity and desire to transform the energy system...and yet 'what I can do at home' may be too small.

For example, it's not how much energy is used, its how the energy is generated. Some sites like 'The great sunflower project' allows citizen science to monitor bee pollination patterns. These and other crowdsourcing sites represent social media in action on a small scale, where the additive effect is large.

Tweetawatt integrating a device  with Twitter to enable your house to send tweets on how much power is being used in a house...the idea of competition among Twitter followers to use less is an idea enabled by social media.

Questions + Discussion:

[A rather contentious discussion about the imperfection of the sustainable solutions].

It's not that green is too expensive, it's  that dirty is too cheap.

[One thing that is clear from this panel is that there is a great deal of diversity on the definitions and approaches required. Imperfect solutions to imperfectly framed problems may, in the end, reflect the imperfect people we are. Social media can't fix that]

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