Advanced Search

Please click here to take a brief survey

Roundup: Participatory Medicine, Music Tees and More...

Journal of Participatory Medicine: A Tool for Personal Resilience
"Participatory medicine" has been a meme for nearly a decade, describing proactive strategies for wellness ranging from patient peer support groups to collaborative treatment and research efforts. Now the movement hopes to advance and further unify its conversation with the launch of its own peer-reviewed journal.

The Journal of Participatory Medicine (JPM) will be published exclusively online using Open Journal Systems, an open source journal management and publishing system developed by the Public Knowledge Project -- a nonprofit partnership between The University of British Columbia University, Simon Fraser University and Stanford University. Worldchanging eminence grise Jon Lebkowsky sits on the editorial board, alongside other notables including doctors from Harvard and Stanford, Faith McLellan from the World Health Organization, Amy Marcus from the Wall Street Journal, and Clay Shirky from NYU.

Congratulations to the JPM team in advance of their first issue (read instructions for submitting content via Kevin Kelly). Giving patients a trustworthy tool for understanding their needs and conditions and encouraging them to participate in their own wellness seems to be a smart step toward a society of healthier and more resilient individuals.(JL)

WCClogo.jpgStart Building Your COP15 Network
There is a new facebook-esque social networking site specifically for people active on climate change. (WCC) is a free site, set up by the City of Copenhagen as part of preparations for this December's UN climate negotiations. It's got most of the features that you'd expect: space for your personal profile, theme groups, the ability to upload files and video content, and – of course – that tacit competition to be the one with the most “friends.”

So far there are 237 users, not bad for a site that is only a week old. Early adopters include UNEP and Greenpeace, as well as the environmental mayor of Copenhagen and a women who likes to cut carbon by dancing to keep warm. One of the advantages of the site may be that it isn't aiming for Facebook's mammoth numbers. There are more than 500 groups addressing climate change on Facebook, but the content is pretty uneven. The narrower audience aimed for by WCC could make it a good spot for more focused and productive collaborations. The WCC team also curates a “speakers corner” to showcase the best of the user submitted multi-media content. (At the moment the main feature is an interview with Shai Agassi.)

There are some other pluses as well. You don't have to be signed up to access content, and each group gets a user-friendly url (i.e. “” instead of Facebook's lengthy alphanumerical gibberish). All in all, that makes it possible to use the site as a venue for communicating to the general public. In a pinch, groups could use it as a substitute for a standalone website.

It's a well designed site, at could end up being a handy way to build community both before and after December's negotiations. [ed note: You'll find the Worldchanging Editors on WCC right here -- it's brand new, but we'll be updating soon!] (AA)

openlynx.jpgOpenLynx: Open Source Software for Building Management
Via Earth2Tech, we learned about OpenLynx, a new software program from NovusEdge's Anno Scholten. The second version of the source code will be available on Monday (June 22) here. Katie Fehrenbacher writes:

Above all, the development of open-source tools for the commercial building automation industry suggests how valuable the energy information housed in these commercial buildings has suddenly become. IT companies want to manage it, using the tools they’ve spent years building (see Adura Technologies). As the panelists pointed out, the lighting, thermostat and HVAC energy information from commercial buildings used to only be seen by the building manager, but as the smart grid gets built out, energy information needs to be pulled outside of the building walls. Utilities are looking to provide rebates for commercial demand response, and companies are looking to cut energy to meet regulations and save money. As this shift happens the easiest way to release the information is through already established standard protocols.

Though even Scholten himself acknowledges that there will be backlash against the first-generation OpenLynx from the companies currently controlling this space, and likely skepticism from the building owners who've become accustomed to established versions, OpenLynx will, at the very least, make a lasting contribution to the conversation.

Continuing to push the bar in building operations management is a hugely important strategy in greening the built environment. Once people begin living and working in a space, even a building designed to cutting-edge standards can perform differently than expected. Tenants do play a big role by making energy use choices, but operations managers at the helms of whole-building systems often play a part of equal or greater import. Hopefully, OpenLynx will give these green building pilots some tools to help them further streamline their vessels' performance. (AS/JL)

Image credit: Postgreen
100k Houses and the Passive Standard
Postgreen, the development company that produced the LEED-Platinum 100k House, plans to build a new green, affordable home in Philadelphia to the even more exacting Passive House (Passivehaus Standard for Energy Efficient Design. Passive Houses, which we've discussed a number of times here on Worldchanging, achieve such thermal efficiency through insulation and ventilation that they require very minimal heating and cooling, and can thus be powered with on-site renewables sufficiently to be rendered Zero Energy.

Worldchanging ally Adam Stein thinks that Postgreen could be on to something, possibly as paradigm-changing as a new vision for what makes our homes valuable:

For decades, home buyers have been conditioned to think of their house an an investment, something that can only climb in value. With this mindset, buyers seek to maximize the amount of money they spend — to take out the biggest possible mortgage — on the theory that more money put in means even greater appreciation.
Postgreen, the development firm behind the 100k House anticipates that people will begin to see their homes as they really are — not just an investment but also as an expense. Buyers will seek out not just the best investment, but also the best deal: homes that radically slash their energy budgets while still offering modern amenities at affordable prices.

Image source: Invisible DJ
Thinking Outside the Jewel Box with Music Tees
If you haven’t gotten through your copy of Glamour or Filter this month, you may have missed the buzz about The Music Tee, a new way to package digital albums.

Invisible DJ, the company that created The Music Tee in conjunction with an LA fashion house, explains its product thusly:

The Music Tee [is] a T-shirt that is creatively designed to contain “album art” on the front, and a track list on the back. Each shirt will come with a hang tag printed with a URL and a unique code. Each code will allow the owner of the shirt to download one copy of each of the tracks printed on the shirt.

The obvious question: isn’t packaging digital goods missing the point? Sure, but the availability of digital music hasn’t necessarily slowed the demand for band memorabilia or album art; clearly, musicians are starting to come up with new ways to provide their fans with keepsakes. Done right, this could create interesting partnerships that might help independent artists make a living. Done wrong, this could simply create more useless schwag that ends up in the landfill. Naturally, we’re intrigued.

Hip hop artist Mos Def is the first high-profile musician to try the tee. Fans can already purchase his latest album, The Ecstatic, on iTunes for $9.99. On July 7, they can opt for a T-shirt costing $39 — not cheap, but when you consider how many hipsters will drop $30 in a vintage shop on a used T-shirt with no added value, it’s not a bad deal.

Our biggest reservation, of course, is that a brand-new T-shirt has a troubling backstory. The Music Tee seems to be a standard-issue shirt, too, so even if a fan holds onto his or hers for years, creating such products could negate any gains made by switching from jewel-boxed CDs to digital files. We like the idea, though, and think it has a lot of potential. Musicians with smaller fan bases could pair with visual artists and DIY gurus to creatively repurpose existing goods using the same concept — add value to all of those vintage tees already in circulation. As rapid prototyping and microfabbing become more accessible and widespread (see below), such souvenirs become increasingly customized, providing a greater connection between musicians and their fans. (CB)

nervous%20system%20jewelry_250.jpgNervous System: For the Elegant Fabber
Score yet another point for maker culture and small-scale production. Nervous System, based in Saugerties, NY, invites customers to create their own unique custom designs using applets on their website. Founders Jesse Louis-Rosenberg and Jessica Rosenkrantz draw on their backgrounds in science and architecture for inspiration in their designs, which reference the patterns in bacteria, coral reefs, skin cells and other unlikely muses. (Thanks to Rachel for this one.) (JL)

$2,800 Per Species
All life relies on plants, and yet human behavior is pushing more and more plants to the brink of extinction. In 6 and a half minutes, Jonathan Drori explains the mission of the Millennium Seed Bank, which has already stored the genetic material for 24 thousand plant species, and re-tests seeds every decade to ensure that they will still germinate. With enough funding, the Bank, which works with governments and communities around the world, could preserve the future of 25 percent of all plant species on the planet by the year 2020. And the cost? According to Drori, the average cost (including data collection) is US$2,800 per species.

Click to watch the talk. (AS/JL)

Peak Phosphorous?
From Scientific American:

Altogether, phosphorus flows now add up to an estimated 37 million metric tons per year. Of that, about 22 million metric tons come from phosphate mining. The earth holds plenty of phosphorus-rich minerals—those considered economically recoverable—but most are not readily available. The International Geological Correlation Program (IGCP) reckoned in 1987 that there might be some 163,000 million metric tons of phosphate rock worldwide, corresponding to more than 13,000 million metric tons of phosphorus, seemingly enough to last nearly a millennium. These estimates, however, include types of rocks, such as high-carbonate minerals, that are impractical as sources because no economical technology exists to extract the phosphorus from them. The tallies also include deposits that are inaccessible because of their depth or location offshore; moreover, they may exist in underdeveloped or environmentally sensitive land or in the presence of high levels of toxic or radioactive contaminants such as cadmium, chromium, arsenic, lead and uranium.
Estimates of deposits that are economically recoverable with current technology—known as reserves—are at 15,000 million metric tons. That is still enough to last about 90 years at current use rates. Consumption, however, is likely to grow as the population increases and as people in developing countries demand a higher standard of living. Increased meat consumption, in particular, is likely to put more pressure on the land, because animals eat more food than the food they become.

black%20dink%20frog.jpgNew Frog!
Via the GlobalPost: A team from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) recently encountered a new species of dink frog in the Cordillera de Talamanca mountains near the border with Panama. The frog likes high altitudes and displays color variations according to sex, a trait that's not often found in its class of nocturnal amphibians. Female frogs (like the one pictured) are black, while males are orange, reddish and gray. In Spanish, the dink is known as "rana campana" — or bell frog — "because their song is like a little bell."

Understanding and documenting all life on Earth is one of the challenges in our Earth Day list of 10 Big, Really Hard Things We Can Do to Save the Planet.

(Thanks to Cassie for this one.) (JL)

Bookmark and Share



MESSAGE (optional):

Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg