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World Environment Day

World Environment Day -- which actually lasts 5 days -- takes place in San Francisco this year, and kicks off tomorrow. Established by the UN in 1972, World Environment Day is an education festival, with lectures, product exhibits and artwork all meant to make visitors aware of the ways in which the environment can be improved. The theme this year? As seen to the right, "Green Cities." The schedule for the five days covers topics near and dear to the hearts of WorldChangers: June 1: "Pure...


Renewable Scotland

Microgeneration in Scotland is getting increasing attention, with last Friday's announcement that British Gas had signed a deal with Glasgow-based company Windsave to sell 1kW roof-mounted wind turbines to consumers in Scotland. While insufficient to power a typical home completely, it is enough to "cut annual electricity bills by up to a third and reduce CO2 emissions by half a tonne per annum." Definitely welcome news, but it turns out that it's just the latest in a series of home and local...

Seeing Double

Last June, I posted about the Deja View device -- a wearable camera and hard drive recorder, allowing users to save digital copies of whatever they see, and an early indicator that the participatory panopticon would soon be here. I said at the time that it may be ugly, ungainly and too limited, but it was a sign of more advanced technologies to come. And I was right. I was alerted today to the DoubleVision system, a head-mounted surveillance camera hooked to a portable hard disk system. LCD...

RepRap Update

Last March we pointed to the RepRap project -- an attempt by Dr. Adrian Bowyer of the University of Bath's Centre for Biomimetic and Natural Technology to design and build a Free/Open Source fabber. In the subsequent few months, Dr. Bowyer and his team have made substantial progress, including adopting a "Meccano" structure for the test unit similar to the Glue Gun Fabricator devised by Vik Olliver; a report by Vik Olliver detailing how to make one for yourself (PDF) can be found at the...


Rural Innovations Network and the L-RAMP

Innovations don't just come out of R&D departments and university labs; they can also come from people operating in the "real world" needing to figure out new ways to accomplish necessary tasks more effectively and efficiently. For the leapfrog nations, improvements to rural conditions are quite often at the focus of new ideas. In India, the Rural Innovations Network (RIN) is a highly successful non-profit organization set up in 2001 to help promote and disseminate innovative practices in the...


Spaceship Earth, the Game

Buckminster Fuller argued that "spaceship" earth could sustain a growing population at a decent standard of living if we used our resources effectively. Fuller had studied war games at the U.S. Navy War College, and it occurred to him that you could create a "World Peace Game" that focused on the logistics necessary to share resources and make the concept of war obsolete. From this evolved what he called the World GameTM, now called the Global Simulation Workshop. In May designers and...

Kabul Snapshots

It's good to be reminded of the realities of life on the ground elsewhere. Mie Ahmt is a Dane working on reconstruction in Kabul -- and she's blogging the experience. Her tips for recognizing suicide bombers disturbed me, but not nearly as much as the chipper tone in her post detailing the contents of her "kidnapping kit": As a consequence of the kidnapping of the Italian woman I have now changed my smaller purse into a bigger purse (maybe itÂ’s fairer to actually call this a bag). I call it...


Software in Africa

Which is better for public use in the developing world: free/open source software or proprietary software? Even casual readers of WorldChanging should be able to guess where our opinions tend to fall, but it's always useful to have empirical evidence to back up (or refute!) subjective beliefs. While a good deal of work has been done about free/open software in the South American and South Asian settings, less research has been done about free/open software in Africa ("Black Star Ghana," which...

Pod Mobs

Audio commentaries were just made to be hacked. The rise of easily-distributed digital audio files and inexpensive portable players has made possible a world of homemade, underground alternative audio commentaries to use as substitutes for or adjuncts to the "official" versions found in museums and on DVDs. The New York Times notes the growing popularity of "remix MoMA," an alternative set of commentaries available at Art Mobs; these renegade tracks are provided by art students and...


UK Business Leaders Call For Climate Rules

Although the UK government's policies on climate disruption sometimes seem forward-looking and aggressive by American standards, many in Britain see them instead as timid and woefully insufficient. Among the voices calling for greater governmental action are the heads of 12 of the biggest companies in the United Kingdom. The CEOs and Chairmen of HSBC Bank, BP, Scottish Power, ABN Amro, and Shell among others have signed a joint letter (PDF) to the recently-re-elected Prime Minister Tony...

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