Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Clay Shirky: How cognitive surplus will change the world

Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, refers to Clay Shirky as "a prominent thinker on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies".  Shirky is a consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. He teaches a New Media course at New York University investigating the interrelated effects of social networks and technological networks, and how our networks shape culture and vice-versa.

In a recent TED Talk, Shirky explains how the social sciences are recognizing that our intrinsic motivation for being a part of something larger than ourselves is leading to the "design for generosity", enabled by social media. Simply put, we have positive feelings about sharing information with one another. Shirky argues that civic value is a side effect of communal participation in large scale action in the 21st Century.

This ties in with the research of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I just finished reading Half the Sky, Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Watching Shirky's talk was exciting and confirmed for me that there many opportunities to work against poverty and injustice via social networks that will be game changers, especially for women.

Kristof seems to be one of the only journalists writing about the oppression of women on a regular basis in the NY Times. In the stories Kristof and WuDunn share about women across the developing world, we learn that the key to economic and social progress lies in unleashing women's potential.

Take 10 minutes out of your day and watch Shirky demonstrate the correlation between social media and changing the world.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

12 Events That Will Change Everything, Made Interactive

"12 Events That Will Change Everything," which appears in the June 2010 issue of Scientific American has an interactive companion website.  IGSS students will be exploring global ethical issues in 2010-11 and hopefully, they may want to  explore some of the global ethical issues related to future events and how societies can best respond.

I am currently looking at essays from a recent NT library purchase:

This Will Change Everything: Ideas That Will Shape the Future
Edited byJohn Brockman. Harper Perennial,which is Part of a series stemming from his online science journal Edge (www.edge.org), including What Have You Changed Your Mind About? and What Is Your Dangerous Idea? 

In this book author and editor Brockman presents 136 answers to the question, “What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?” 

From the book's website: Milan architect Stefano Boeri responds with a single sentence: “Discovering that someone from the future has already come to visit us.” Most others take the question more seriously; J. Craig Venter believes his laboratory will use “digitized genetic information” to direct organisms in creating biofuels and recycling carbon dioxide. Like biofuels, several topics are recurrent: both Robert Shapiro and Douglas Rushikoff consider discovering a “Separate Origin for Life,” a terrestrial unicellular organism that doesn’t belong to our tree of life; Leo M. Chalupa and Alison Gopnik both consider the possibility resetting the adult brain’s plasticity—its capacity for learning—to childhood levels. Futurologist Juan Enriquez believes that reengineering body parts and the brain will lead to “human speciation” unseen for hundreds of thousands of years, while controversial atheist Richard Dawkins suggests that reverse-engineering evolution could create a highly illuminating “continuum between every species and every other.” 

Many of these ideas are related to those in the Scientific American article. The June article is available full text in the library's print periodicals section.  ProQuest database does not offer the article full-text.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mediavore's Dilemma

An excerpt from:

The Mediavore's Dilemma: Making Sustainable Media Choices

How Big is the Media's Carbon Footprint?

"Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a private equity firm, reported that the media industry rose from the 10th largest sector of the economy in 1975 to the 5th largest in 2009. According to the 2009 Deloitte Media and Entertainment Industry Outlook, media and entertainment is one of the largest sectors in the U.S. economy: About $950 billion was spent on products and services provided by media and entertainment companies in 2006. That spending is expected to grow by 38 percent to $1.3 trillion by 2011.

Another key aspect of the media game that can be measured is advertising spend. A major source of revenue to media companies is the purchase of advertising by brands who spend in excess of $125 billion in the U.S. each year to sponsor media products. Close to $500 billion is spent each year worldwide. According to research firm Kantar Media, while advertising expenditures fell 12.3 percent in 2009 due to the recession, advertising expenditures in the first quarter of 2010 rose 5.1 percent from 2009 to $31.3 billion.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that approximately 360,000 tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions are associated with each billion dollars of economic activity, which would mean the carbon footprint of the media industry could be as much as 500 million metric tons of greenhouse gas. That would be equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 130 coal-fired power plants burning 2.6 million railcars of coal; or the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 95 million four passenger vehicles burning 56 billion gallons of gasoline. The DOE also reported that in 2008 the United States consumed about 138 billion gallons (or 3.3 billion barrels) of gasoline and emitted approximately 6.9 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas."

Read the full report from PBS' MediaShift blog.

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