Thursday, December 20, 2007

Idaho Environmental Summit - 2007 Postscript

I believe everyone who attended would agree that the 2007 Idaho Environmental Summit in Boise December 11-13, was a great success, with excellent Keynote speakers, breakout knowledge sessions on a range of important topics, and a lot of personal networking opportunities with old and new friends and associates. However, one common question some people asked -- will a documented record of all the topic presentations be made available after the Summit is over? The answer was that even though this was a good idea it was not planned or budgeted for!

At a conference organizers meeting on the last evening December 13, I offered to try to explore some possible ways this might be done using available social networking tools. Below I explain how, in the past several days, I have initiated an experimental network using the popular Ning Social Network platform to start this process.

Also I will note that during the Summit I was asked to try to capture a photographic record of as many of the Summit activities as I could. I am now producing photo albums of the events that happened during the 3 days. The only outside photo I took in three days happened during the Opening Flag Ceremonies with Tribal drummers, when I happened to look out and saw an amazing rainbow colored Solar halo and three sundogs, on both sides and the top. That picture has been placed to the right and you can click on it to make it much larger. Additional photographs of the Summit are systematically being placed on the new Idaho Environmental Network I created. (More detail below)

My partner, Katy Flanagan, helped the Summit produce a "slide show" that was shown on two screens in the main meeting room all three days except during Keynote presentations. We used nature images from Idaho that we have photographed over the years and interspersed Summit Sponsor credit slides throughout the program. We also had an exhibit booth for Mountain Visions where we showed Google Earth projects and other examples of our web site work including high definition panoramas and video, interactive web site production and social network efforts on the Internet.

In my last (most recent) post on December 10, 2007 I listed the Fifteen Idaho Environmental topics that were presented at the 2007 Summit. These were similar to the topics presented at the 2006 Summit that I wrote about in November and December 2006. (See link below)

As I noted in the "Postscript" blog entry on December 12, 2006, there was also some talk among organizers and participants last year about creating a public record of all of the presentations given and posting it on the Summit web site. Possibly because of time involvement and possible costs this was never done last year and for the same reasons this documentation was not planned for this year either. At this time, for example, I cannot even find any web site information about the 2006 Idaho Environmental Summit. Why? I hope the 2007 web site remains available as long as there is interest in these issues. Possibly the 2006 web site can be found and uploaded again for the public record.

Photo sharing Model: As I needed an openly available web site where people could access the conference photographs I had taken, I decided to use the (free) Ning.com networking structure that I had used before for the Idaho Outdoor Photography and Idaho Common Adventure Network projects. This allows visitors to the web site not only to look at the photos (also in a slide show format) but it also allows them to copy and send the photos or slide shows to others they feel might be interested. People who join the new network can also submit photos of their own and these can be open to other people who visit the web site project. (The image to the right is Richard Louv, Keynote speaker and author of "Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder")

Naturally, this same networking structure will also allow people who join the network to submit links to conference presentations, if they already exist on a web site, or to upload Word, PDF or PowerPoint presentation files, if they are available. It was my understanding that many of these presentations were installed on the personal laptop computers used at the conference and might remain available to the conference organizers or the "Track Managers." For those presentations that are not still available, hopefully the presenters themselves, or someone who knows them, can provide links or files for a better public record of the important knowledge represented at the 2007 Idaho Environmental Summit. Possibly, similar presentation records from the 2006 Summit can also be located. Obviously, this "knowledge base" can be valuable to people who could not attend either of the two annual Summit meetings. And, it will be valuable in the future as more knowledge is accumulated and presented at similar conferences, meetings and seminars.

I have a good start on a new Idaho Environmental Network via Ning.com that I hope has some potential to create a "web of data" about the topics presented at these Summit meetings. I also hope to initiate some Idaho discussions about GeoWeb, SemanticWeb, OpenSourceWeb and SocialWeb concepts via this project that I have been exploring on this Blog.

I believe most of the approximately 300 + people who attended the Summit will be interested in the hundreds of photographs that will be available, as any person may be visible in one or more of the scenes. If they come and look at, and share, the photographs, they may also become interested in helping locate publicly available sources for some or all of the presentations given and perhaps add additional Idaho Environmental knowledge that is available from the past and in the future.

Please visit the experimental Idaho Environmental Network to see photographs and more information and details about how this project might work. And please "join" the network if you are interested in being involved in discussing these issues further. If there are other similar discussion groups I hope we can share their links with others as well.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Idaho Environmental Summit - 2007

In 2006, on November 29, and December 12, I posted information about the first annual Idaho Environmental Summit, including information about our (Mountain Visions) participation and suggestions for future networking. We are involved in the Summit again this year and will continue to encourage more in depth internetworking on the Idaho topics being discussed. I will write more later about my experiences at the conference this year.

December 11-13, 2007 are the dates for "The second annual Idaho Environmental Summit with more than thirty partner organizations, offers seven keynote events and over 70 breakout sessions featuring sensational nationally recognized speakers." The IES Keynote Speakers web page provides details about these speakers including Richard Louv, Keith Allred, Charles Wilkinson, D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas , Deborah Williams, and Brent Stinnet.

"Breakout sessions will feature over one hundred presenters providing educational and networking opportunities and current research for all the people and organizations of Idaho."

Informative sessions on subject areas include:
Air Quality
Cleanup and Remediation
Climate Change
Collaboration
Energy
Environmental Education
Faith and Environment
Fire and Fire Management
Fish and Wildlife
Land Use
Natural Resource Information
Recreation
Sustainability
Tribal Topics
Water Resources Research

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Network Where No One is in Charge

I intended this post to be related to the previous post "Public vs. Private Benefit." The most glaring example of a "Public Benefit" process in modern times is the tremendous cooperative and sharing attitude of people who developed the modern Internet. This same open source process is growing stronger via social networking tools and provides an obvious and logical alternative to the "Private Benefit" organizations that have controlled the environmental and social justice economies of many cultures worldwide.

Today, John Markoff wrote an interesting article about this topic in the Business Section of the New York Times titled: "The Team That Put the Net in Orbit." He describes the cooperative spirit of the open source software networking movement in the 1980s that lead to the Internet as we know it today.

The article credits Al Gore, then a U.S. Senator, "with introducing legislation in 1988 to finance what he originally called a "national data highway.... Ultimately, in 1991, his bill to create a National Research and Education Network did pass. Funded by the National Science Foundation, it was instrumental in upgrading the speed of the academic and scientific network backbone leading up to the commercialized Internet." Markoff quotes Lawrence H. Landweber, one of the pioneers of "internetworking" who said of Al Gore, "He is a hero in this field."

Markoff notes that "Some 220 of the original Internet pioneers met here at the end of November to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the NSFnet, the scientific data network that was originally constructed to tie together the nation’s five supercomputer centers and that would ultimately explode into today’s Internet. By the time the academic network was shut down in 1996, it connected 6.6 million host computers and extended to 93 countries."

"The story of the network and its impact on the world is a case study in the role of serendipity in technology design and in the power of a deftly managed public-private partnership."

Markoff also states in the article that "According to a wide range of conference participants, NSFnet ultimately succeeded because of both the hacker culture of engineers that built the system and the very nature of the network they were creating; it fostered intellectual collaboration in a way not previously possible.

“The model of a network where no one is in charge is a model that can scale,” said Douglas E. Van Houweling, the chairman of the Merit Network when the NSFnet backbone was constructed."

A Wikipedia page notes that open source software "is often developed in a public, collaborative manner. Open-source software is the most prominent example of open source development and often compared to user generated content."

In previous posts here I have tried to connect social networking concepts that promote user generated content with the concept of Common Adventure projects. The open source networking where "no one is in charge" fits well with my experiences and thoughts. The increasing use and value of the Geo Web and the Semantic Web also fit into what I see in the future. I will continue to try to clarify these ideas in future posts.

Public-Benefit vs. Private-Benefit

On December 8, David Korten, in YesMagazine.org wrote an article titled, "Only One Reason to Grant a Corporate Charter." He explores the differences between the commonly practiced Private-Benefit Corporation and a logical, more environmentally and socially sensitive alternative, the Public-Benefit Corporation.

"The private-benefit corporation is an institution granted a legally protected right—some would claim obligation—to pursue a narrow private interest without regard to broader social and environmental consequences. If it were a real person, it would fit the clinical profile of a sociopath." Korten also states that this type of institutionalized corporation design benefits "wealthy investors far removed from the social and environmental consequences. That design has ever since proven highly effective in advancing the private interests of the world’s wealthiest people at enormous cost to the rest."

Explaining the public-benefit alternative, Korten states that "The only legitimate reason for a government to issue a corporate charter giving a group of private investors a legally protected right to aggregate and concentrate virtually unlimited economic power under unified management is to serve a well-defined public purpose under strict rules of public accountability. This defines a public-benefit corporation, which can be chartered as either for-profit or not-for-profit.

Please read the Korten article for a more detailed explanation.

Given the wide range of environmental and social justice problems all nations in the world are experiencing, it seems logical to put a huge and immediate individual and societal public effort into a restructuring of our understanding of long range effects that are caused by economic decisions we are making today. Fortunately, in my opinion, the Internet is providing social networking opportunities that "can" make a difference in this effort. We should use these tools to insist that Public-Benefit Corporations are supported by our friends, neighbors and elected leaders, and that Private-Benefit Corporations adopt this different and more responsible design for the good of all citizens of the world.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

National Geographic Interactive Google Earth Quiz

On November 12, 2007 both the Google Earth Blog and the Google Lat Long Blog featured articles (and Google Earth kml file links) about a new and very interesting Interactive Google Earth tour and Quiz related to the continent of Asia. The project is named "My Wonderful World."

Kathy Tang, project lead with Google, notes that they have teamed up with this "National Geographic-led campaign for geographic literacy, to give students, parents and geography enthusiasts a look at "Asia: Continent of Contrasts" during Geography Awareness Week. Held annually during the third week of November, Geography Awareness Week is an initiative to create awareness of the people, places and diversity of a specific world region.

I found the tour questions to be very basic but interesting. Once I chose a correct answer Google Earth would fly me to another part of Asia and I was provided with more information about the answer. I found myself turning border layers on and off and tilting and flying closer to look at some of the political boundaries and geographic features nearby. Turning on additional layers such as Global Awareness, Geographic Web and others led me to a lot of interesting information about Asia way beyond the My Wonderful World Quiz itself.

Then I looked more closely at the Geography Awareness Week 2007 web page, and found several other multimedia tours and videos related to Asia topics such as Natural Wonders, Tastes, Views from Artists, Wildlife, Festivals and Celebrations and other resources in Google Earth. Content contributions like these from National Geographic and others really makes the Google Earth program an educational learning pleasure and a great way new to explore our "Wonderful World."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

AskWiki - Semantic Web Beta test

A November 1, online article on the Wired Blog Network titeled "AskWiki: Wikipedia Knows What You're Thinking" provides information about a new "beta testing" Semantic Web development called AskWiki. The article explains that "AskWiki is a new partnership between AskMeNow and the Wikimedia Foundation, which integrates some of the semantic web and natural language features of AskMeNow into Wikipedia searches. The AskWiki engine is able to parse natural language statements and returns specific answers rather than just relevant articles." (See below for an AskWiki test question I asked!)

The article notes that Grant Cohen of AskMeNow, who headed the development of AskWiki "concedes that AskWiki is not perfect, which is why it’s still in a beta testing phase. “it’s still new, still young,” says Cohen, but even so it’s fairly impressive."

"Right now when you ask a question AskWiki provides a set of links to label an answer correct, incorrect or uncertain. And in the cases where the answer is incorrect or uncertain you can provide the correct answer, which is then fed back into the engine so the next person that comes along has a better chance of finding the answer to their question."

As a test, I asked the following question about Idaho, the State where I live: Where is the Frank Church Wilderness Area? The answer was not correct and I was able to note this on the Ask Wiki response. However the response did contain a link to the Wikipedia entry for Frank Church, a deceased Senator from Idaho. After creating an AskWiki account I was able to edit the Wiki page to provide the answer that "The Frank Church Wilderness Area is located in the central part of the State of Idaho in the United States." I also cut and pasted relevant information about how the Wilderness was created and named from the Frank Church Wikipedia page. I note that my edited changes have now been added to AskWiki. I also edited the incorrect information when I asked AskWiki "What is the capitol of the State of Idaho? by adding Boise and a link to the Wikipedia page for Boise, Idaho.

Google's OpenSocial and Ning Networks

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of the Netscape web browser in the mid 90s, and now co-founder of Ning explains the "astonishing" new Open Social initiative spearheaded by Google in his blog.

He explains that they have already added Open Social functionality for Ning Network creators but recommends that "anyone who is running a network today and wants to play with Open Social should create a new demo network for that purpose.

Last March, I created a Ning Network called the Idaho Common Adventure Network and I hope to incorporate some of the OpenSocial features in the near future. Meanwhile, I joined a new Ning Network "JoinOpenSocial" specifically created "for developers, members of social networking communities, and everyone else to learn, share, and discuss about Google's OpenSocial project." As time permits, and as I learn more, I may start a new project to experiment with this new opportunity.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Nova Spivack, Radar Networks and Twine

Today at the popular Web 2.0 Summit, Radar Networks, founded by Web visionary Nova Spivack, announced the invite-beta of Twine, "a new service that gives users a smarter way to share, organize, and find information with people they trust. Use Twine to better leverage and contribute to the collective intelligence of your friends, colleagues, groups and teams. Twine ties it all together."

For almost a year now I have been logging on to Nova Spivack's Blog "Minding the Planet"and watching the Radar Networks web site for news regarding new Semantic Web applications reportedly under construction. It is exciting to finally see some details of their work which, I believe can be very useful in my own understanding of where the next generation of the Web is moving. Consequently, I have signed up to be invited to the beta testing phase for this project.

Twine is the first Semantic Web application Radar Networks has announced and "is one of the first mainstream applications of the Semantic Web, or what is sometimes referred to as Web 3.0," according to the "about" Twine web page. More detail about the Twine announcement is available on the Radar Networks Press web page that readers may be interested in. Below are a few clips from the major headings.

"Knowledge Networking
Twine provides a smarter way for people to leverage and contribute to the combined brainpower of their relationships...."

"Sharing and Collaboration
Twine helps people band together to share, organize and find information and knowledge around common interests and goals...."

"Twine is Smart
Twine is unique because it understands the meaning of information and relationships and automatically helps to organize and connect related items...."

"Twine 'ties it all together'
Twine pools and connects all types of information in one convenient online location, including contacts, email, bookmarks, RSS feeds, documents, photos, videos, news, products, discussions, notes, and anything else. Users can also author information directly in Twine like they do in weblogs and wikis. Twine is designed to become the center of a user’s digital life."

"The Start of Web 3.0
“Web 3.0 is best-defined as the coming decade of the Web, during which time semantic technologies will help to transform the Web from a global file-server into something that is more like a worldwide database. By making information more machine-understandable, connected and reusable, the Semantic Web will enable software and websites to grow smarter,” said Spivack. “Yahoo! was the leader of Web 1.0. Google is the leader of Web 2.0. We don’t yet know who will be the leader of Web 3.0. It’s a bold new frontier, but Twine is a strong first step, and we’re very excited about it.”

Friday, October 05, 2007

One Laptop Per Child - Education and GeoNetworking

Recently at a meeting with some friends we talked about the One Laptop Per Child (O.L.P.C) initiative designed to provide low cost rugged laptops to two billion educationally underserved children in poor countries. Interestingly, even though I have been following news of the project development for the past few years, my friends were not familiar with it.
(Photo courtesy of the FuseProject)

Yesterday David Pogue wrote a very good article about the OLPC initiative in the New York Times and I decided to send it to my friends and also post it here.

Personally, I believe this is one of the most important educational projects being developed in the world today that should have exponentially increasing and long range positive social/environmental and GeoNetworking implications in the future.

On the OLPC Wiki page Nicholas Negroponte who founded the project at M.I.T, is quoted, "It's an education project, not a laptop project." The goal of OLPC "is to provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment, and express themselves."

Pogue comments that "The truth is, the XO laptop, now in final testing, is absolutely amazing, and in my limited tests, a total kid magnet. Both the hardware and the software exhibit breakthrough after breakthrough — some of them not available on any other laptop, for $400 or $4,000." He also notes that it consumes very little battery electricity and can be charged by solar or a pull cord, and to replace the battery only costs $10. The article lists many other features, including "...both regular wireless Internet connections and something called mesh networking, which means that all the laptops see each other, instantly, without any setup — even when there’s no Internet connection."

A new program to help distribute the laptops is available for two weeks in November. Called "Give 1, Get 1" you pay for two laptops and one is sent to a student in a poor country and one to a child in your own family. Or you can also donate the second laptop to a child in a developing nation.

It will be interesting to follow the developments that may soon connect the OLPC laptops to Social Networking, Semantic Web search opportunities and GeoWeb projects like Google Earth.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

New GeoWeb - Environment, Discussion and Sierra Club projects

Recently several interesting new projects using GeoWeb/Geospatial concepts that are "Place Based and (somewhat) Time Based" have come to my attention. I will attempt to give my general analysis of how projects like the following can not only bring attention to environmental issues of today, but can also begin to accumulate background knowledge about the issue and help formulate solutions to these issues for the future.

1. Google Maps International Cleanup Weekend:

Yesterday, C/NET News.com posted an article titled, "Google's International Cleanup Weekend puts maps to good use." Centered around the upcoming International Cleanup Weekend of October 13 and 14, 2007, and using Google Maps and Google Earth, people in communities around the world are invited "to pick a modest project close to home, do it, then share their accomplishments by posting photos and videos to the team's Google Map."

In the past, almost everywhere, similar community volunteer cleanup (and restoration) projects have been common. Many of these are minimally successful at preventing the need for repeated efforts in the future. However, others have been more successful in being able to identify and mitigate the source(s) of the problem and to prevent the need for continued efforts year after year. One especially important feature for this kind of success is the amount and quality of publicity that becomes available to the community about the background issues, the specific project and the solutions. Publicity often generates public enthusiasm for changes.

GeoWeb tools like Google Earth and Maps are providing new and exciting ways for people to share their projects by locating them on an interactive map. In the future it will be interesting to be able to see how many cleanup and restoration projects have happened in the past and are currently planned for any single community, for example, in Boise, Idaho. I suggest that thousands of such projects could be identified with a little effort.

Modern "Semantic Web" search tools promise to provide new avenues for individuals and organizations to search for and gather scientific, cultural and government background information about any cleanup or restoration topic.

And "Social Networking" tools now allow individuals, groups and communities to generate their own publicity about the project in the form of blogs, discussion groups, and online newsletters, etc. Conceptually this networked communication will begin to help communities develop better and more publicly supported plans in the future.

2. A Discussion Forum Within Google Earth

Also yesterday, Frank Taylor at the Google Earth Blog brought attention to a new project called GEBoards. A Google Earth user can find placemarks where someone has started a discussion thread. You can read the thread and make your own comments and you can also create a new placemark and start a new discussion on a topic of your choice.

Note - the first placemarks submitted for these discussions are generally public places and the discussion comments are minimal. However, it will be very interesting when this live discussion project is be incorporated into projects such as the Google Maps Cleanup Weekend noted above.

3. "America's Wild Legacy" - The Sierra Club

On September 28, Frank Taylor on the Google Earth Blog reported that the Sierra Club has released a Google Earth collection showing 52 locations selected for their "America's Wild Legacy" project.

I looked at the report and all of the interesting places in Google Earth for information about how The Sierra Club was using Social Networking and Semantic Web tools for these projects. My initial research did not result in much information. However, it seems logical that the Sierra Club might use some of the social networking tools mentioned above for these projects.

Of special interest to me is the Owyhee Canyonlands project the Sierra Club area selected for Idaho. For forty years I have been personally involved in many recreational activities in this large undeveloped section of Idaho that has often been mentioned as being qualified for National Park Status. With many associates I have also been involved in efforts to help the public visualize and protect this unique collection of desert canyon ecosystems. Moving forward in time, I will try to share ideas with The Sierra Club and others about how the GeoWeb, Social Networking and the Semantic Web can be used to help gather information and develop ecosystem plans for this area in the future.

"The Owyhee Initiative" is a current proposal developed by a consortium of environmental, business and government groups to designate sections for Wilderness, Wild and Scenic Rivers and to increase Native American cultural sites and resources and other specific issues. Interestingly there is a specific comment about the "independent science review of data and information...by an independent, balanced panel of experts."

I believe that the GeoWeb, Social Networking and Semantic Web concepts we are learning about now will provide many new opportunities the general public to learn much more about ecosystem science related to the Owyhee Canyonlands area. This knowledge will allow the public to become much more involved in the contemporary and future planning decisions than they have been in the past.

I intend to write more specific information about the topics mentioned above in the future. Meanwhile, I will end this post with a link to the Google Earth Community Nature and Geography page where I have posted a Google Earth KMZ File that allows you to visit 14 special places in the Owyhee Canyonlands. Links on each of the placemarks allow you to also view spectacular full screen 360 degree panorama views. In the future I hope to add much more information to each of these KML files.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Geospatial Web - Place and Time based Knowledge

I have recently spent some time looking at the work being presented at the 2007 GeoWeb 2007 conference held in Vancouver, B.C. on July 23-27. and am highly impressed by the movement toward "geographic or place based" information that is also "temporal or time based." The language being used to describe how place and time based information is generated includes The Semantic Web, Web 2.0 Social Networking concepts, existing and new scientific and expert knowledge, 2-D and 3-D images, video and animation and virtual visualization of future scenarios. An interesting new development is the greatly increased use of mobile smart phone technology for accessing and even producing geospatial information.

I was particularly impressed by the "keynote podcasts" presentations given by Vinton Cerf - one of the "Fathers of the Internet," Jack Dangermond, Founder and President of ESRI, and Michael Jones, CTO, Google Earth.

From GeoWeb conferences and other sources many of the best articles from renowned international experts about the Geospatial Web has been edited into an important new 2007 book with 25 chapters by Arno Scharl and Klaus Tochtermann. "The Geospatial Web" - How Geobrowsers, Social Software and the Web 2.0 are Shaping the Network Society. The book web site which also contains an Introduction, Table of Contents, Bibliography, Contributors and an Acknowledgment. A link to a "Sample Chapter" is also provided.

In this blog I have been attempting to bring together my past experiences with new information that is constantly becoming available about how we can use the Internet effectively to address ecosystem and environmental issues that should concern local and global citizens. Our work with Mountain Visions over the past 28 years and with the University of Oregon Outdoor Program for 12 years before that has almost always incorporated mapping, social networking, and communication elements that now are becoming much easier, interesting and exciting for anyone who learns how to use them.. As I wrote in my last post, "An Unknown and Worldwide - Common Adventure and Environmental and Social Movement" it is becoming clear that there are numerous social environmental projects that have been ongoing for years and many more are emerging now that these new web tools are becoming available.

In our work creating interactive content for the web since 1995, we have tried to anticipate how citizens will become involved in place based issues if they are invited to participate in creating image and reference content and also being involved in open discussion forums. Below are links to a few examples.

One of our first web projects was in the form of a Blog with satellite messages faxed from Tom Whittaker, a disabled climber attempting to summit Mt. Everest in the spring of 1995. That same year we produced the first web site for The Peregrine Fund - World Center for Birds of Prey and another "blog" like project called Notes from the Field. Soon after we also created the first web site for the National Interagency Fire Center. In 1996 we started work on "The Aurora Project" A Virtual Exploration of Community Watershed Partnerships, with the U.S. Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management. This included 6 distinct watersheds spread around the Western States. This led to the Interactive Watersheds project beginning in 2000 and covering 5 large scale community watersheds across the U.S. This National project was supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils, Inc. the U.S. Forest Service, and many other state and local groups. More recently we have been working on projects for the Jamaica Protected Area Trust with support from The Nature Conservancy, an Idaho Anadromous Outreach project called River Menders with support from the NOAA Community-based Restoration Program, the Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign supported by the Idaho Resource Advisory Committee, and the Otis Bay - River, Spring and Landscape Restoration web site. For the Otis Bay project we have created a demonstration Google Earth KMZ file using the new information provided by the Google Earth Outreach program.

I am also currently preparing some preliminary concept information for J. Michael Scott at the University of Idaho about how to create a web based project called "America 2076." Using Geospatial Web concepts that are location and time based, and incorporating social networking and Semantic Web concepts, I believe this project would provide a way for people to aggregate knowledge and visuals about specific locations and geographic areas from past and current time periods. It would also allow people to create speculative visual scenarios of what these places will look like in the future, depending on public management decisions, toward the year 2076, the Tricentennial of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 2076.

Monday, August 20, 2007

An Unknown and Worldwide - Common Adventure Environmental and Social Movement

In this Blog I have postulated that emerging social networking concepts on the Internet are important tools which can allow many more citizens to become involved in environmental, ecosystem and natural resource issues. In 2002, one of my first attempts to start a Blog on this topic, was titled "Common Adventure on the Internet." At that time I only posted one article, but I revisited the idea again in 2003 with several more posts using different Blog software. In 2004, I also prepared an article about this topic and a presentation titled "InterActive InterNetworking for Ecological Commons" for the PlaNetwork Interactive Conference in San Francisco.

A central theme of my own experience and thinking is that an organizing concept like a Common Adventure has been used by individuals and small groups of people throughout time to conceive and attempt to actualize a commonly determined goal. Regarding the environmental movement there have been hundreds of thousands of such goal oriented projects that I have learned about during my lifetime. I have participated in quite a few myself. Before the Internet age people used bulletin boards, U.S. mail, phone calls, newsletters, slide shows and public service anouncements to organize environmental projects and sometimes town hall meetings, and local, regional and occasionally national conferences. As the Internet has matured people are now learning how to use more sophisticated communication techniques. An interesting phenomena is that even though some groups try to internetwork with each other, most of the time they still operate independently and their efforts are often are not well known by people who are not directly involved.

Recently I read about an exciting new and positive view about how much larger, and worldwide, the small groups may be that are working to fundamentally change our human relationship to the environment and to each other.

Paul Hawken, noted environmenalist, entrepeneur, and auther, in his new book titled"Blessed Unrest" that contains the sub title "How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming."

In a May 23, 2007 interview on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, Hawken said, "The whole book really is about a rise of a movement that is a shift between a world created by and for privilege to a world created by community, and it details the rise of over one million organizations in the world who address civil liberties, social justice and the environment. And even though they’re atomized and there’s many of them and they don’t seem connected, due to modern technology -- cell, texting, internet -- they're starting to intertwine, morph and come together in ways that is making it much more powerful than it has been before."

The Paul Hawken web site multimedia section also provides links to several videos. One is titled " Across Borders Media 2007: Paul Hawken on Blessed Unrest, and Social Networking.
In this video he notes that the powerful social networking tools on the Internet and cellphones are "transforming our awareness of who we are as people, where we live, how we relate to each other, and what kind of world do we want our children to inherit from us and our children's children's children."

In the Democracy Now interview noted above Hawken also noted that he is involved in creating a project "website called Wiserearth.org precisely to create, in a sense, an information commons for this unnamed movement that is also the fastest-growing movement in the world...."

The WiserEarth web site notes that it... "serves the people who are transforming the world. It is a community directory and networking forum that maps and connects non-governmental organizations and individuals addressing the central issues of our day; climate change, poverty, the environment, peace, water, hunger, social justice, conservation, human rights and more. Content is created and edited by people like you."

In several posts on this Blog I have also written about positive effects that" The Semantic Web" can have for individuals, groups and communities as Internet information becomes more organized using new semantic tools; and about "Google Earth" which provides a very positive and exciting way to explore the earth and produce information about places that people care about.

In my next blog post I intend to write about some more concepts I have learned about the GeoWeb and what I believe may become one of the best ways for individuals and citizens to address specific place based issues that include time based sources of scientific information, public participation and visualization, including photos, maps, videos, animations and 3 Dimensional scenarios.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Total Eclipse of the Moon and Celestial Phenomena

Science@NASA today posted a very nice article titled, Dreamy Lunar Eclipse, explaining this phenomena and providing information about where and when the next eclipse will be visible on August 28th. In Boise, MDT, the eclipse starts about 03:52 A.M and ends about 05:22 A.M.

NASA also provides another "Eclipse Home Page" with more information about this eclipse and Past, Present and Future Eclipses.

Another article posted at Scienc@NASA on July 11, noted that the Great Perseid Meteor shower will be in view coming even sooner, on August 12.

During my lifetime I have watched and photographed many eclipses of the moon, one total and a few partial eclipses of the Sun and many other unusual celestial phenomena. While the eclipses are happening it is easy to drift into a state of imagination about the wonder and excitement that primitive peoples may have had when suddenly an unusual celestial event took place. Unfortunately many people today, especially those who live in cities, do not often see the night sky and may miss some of the most amazing natural events that happen in their lifetimes. When these events can be predicted, they can also be shared and celebrated by families, friends and communities and provide much more long lasting and important memories, at a much lower cost than 4th of July Firework displays.

For those interested you can join the Science@NASA mailing list and receive regular weekly advance notices of many other interesting phenomena including Sun Spot explosions that might produce auroras, or Northern Lights we migt see. (Here is a link to some amazing photos of Auroras seen in February, 2003 for example) Often NASA provides spectacular images and movies of events that are too small for us to see with our eyes, but space cameras and instruments can capture. I recommend taking a look at the Science@NASA Story Archives for great images and articles you may have already missed.

Enjoy the night sky whenever you can. Some special celestial events also take place during the day. I will try to post more photos and information as time permits.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wolves, Ecosystem Research & the Semantic Web

In Boise, Idaho last night I attended a public meeting to hear the public present testimony about the U.S Fish & Wildlife Proposed Revision Regulating Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains. During the hearing I thought about all of the other similar environmental issue public hearings I have attended over the years and how ecosystem research can be organized into a more usable form as we start to apply technology being developed for the Semantic Web. I believe people want to know that reputable science can be explained by scientists, understood by citizens, and that it is used for ecosystem management and decision making processes.

This wolf meeting was posted in the Federal Register, Vol. 72, No. 129/ Friday, July 6, 2007, and would revise earlier wolf management rules in the following ways.

1. "... to modify the definition of ‘‘unacceptable impacts’’ to wild ungulate populations so that States and Tribes with Service-approved post-delisting wolf management plans can better address the impacts of a biologically recovered wolf population on ungulate populations and herds while wolves remain listed.

2. "...allow private citizens in States or on Tribal lands with approved post-delisting wolf management plans to take wolves that are in the act of attacking their stock animals or dogs."

Many people who testified in Boise lamented the short amount of public notice that was given. Similar meetings were also held in Helena, Montana, July 18 and Cody, Wyoming, July 17. (The Federal Register text also suggests several ways citizens can comment about this proposal and provides hand delivery, mail and e-mail address)

I was struck by the number of comments decrying the limited amount of scientific knowledge that exists about ecosystems upon which decisions regarding wild animals like wolves and elk are being based today. Many also complained that too often decisions are based on emotion, politics and economy rather than science, and this is especially true when State governments are given control.

One person testifying also thought we should consider the recent news about a number of federal officials and scientists in America who have admitted they have been "ordered" to censor and edit scientific findings in the last several years. One glaring example is that overwhelming scientific evidence has concluded for several years that humans are effecting global warming, but we now know that citizens have been confused because of political, economic and media manipulation and interpretation of the science. Is it possible that this is also happening with scientific information about ecosystems which include elk and wolf populations?

I assume that quite a bit of ecosystem science surrounding elk and wolf habitat has been produced by Federal and State agencies, Universities, environmental organizations, and even private businesses and industry groups. However, I don't know of an efficient and effective way for any of us to find detailed scientific information about complex ecosystem issues that might include Elk and wolves, and would certainly also involve a multitude of other species and a complex web of interrelationships that are important.

I should note that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is following legal federal policies in the Federal Register notice and is inviting independent "Peer Review" comments ... "to ensure that our final rule is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses."

Assuming that the names and affiliations of individuals and/or organizations that have been invited to be peer reviewers will be identified to the public, it also seems reasonable that their own research and publications and those studies they reference in support or non-support of the proposed rule changes would also be identified. It also seems reasonable that the location and accessibility of all of the data bases of information and specific scientific ecosystem studies related to Elk and wolf habitat that exist for Federal and State agencies, Universities, environmental organizations, businesses and industries could also be identified and published at the same time.

My understanding is that the development of the Semantic Web and publishing on the Internet will greatly aid scientists and the public alike in being able to find detailed and reputable scientific information about general and specific topics. Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), predicted in Nature Web debates, in 2001 that the semantic web “will likely profoundly change the very nature of how scientific knowledge is produced and shared, in ways that we can now barely imagine.”

One example of how the Semantic Web is already beginning to function was reported in TMCnet.com in a November 22, 2005 article titled, "W3C Launches Group Linking Medical Industry with Semantic Web."

A very good statement explaining why the Semantic Web is impotrant and how it can be expected to benefit the entire life science community is found in a draft article Tim Clark submitted in February 13, 2006 for discussion to the W3C Knowledge Ecosystem Task Force.
"Problem Statement
Scientific knowledge discovery, publication and discourse can be understood as a knowledge ecosystem containing numerous lifecycle processes. Currently, information in this ecosystem is produced, moves within and is exchanged across public, corporate, private, institutional, and collaboration ownership spaces in the form of millions of semantically uncharacterized digital resources.

Scientists and health care providers increasingly rely on these resources to an extraordinary degree.

These digital resources can potentially be richly interconnected and contextualized in terms of one another. Establishing these interconnections is part of the process of creating, sharing, discussing, publishing and consuming new knowledge. However, such ecosystem process activities are not currently well-supported by digital models, because information interconnections across processes in the “knowledge ecosystem” currently lack a complete machine-accesible semantic characterization.

For example, there is currently no widely recognized machine-accessible semantic differentiation between a manuscript and a publication; or between an illustration and experimental image data; or between an experiment, its data, the data interpretation, and the hypothesis the experiment was designed to validate.

This problem exists across multiple scientific domains. We believe that solving the semantic characterization problem at the common level of knowledge processes, can facilitate not only the organization and exchange of knowledge within domains but across them. This will be particularly important in goal-oriented clinical research but can be expected to benefit the entire life science and health care community."
More recent information about how we can all start to contribute to and use the concepts of the Semantic Web is readily available. I referred to Noah Spivac's contribution in my blog post of November 16, 2006, titled, The Semantic Web -Minding the Planet, by Nova Spivack.

A July 3, 2007 article in Business 2.0 article titled, "What's next for the Internet"
Noah Spivac and his company Radar Networks and other big Internet companies are working to develop tools which will impose order on "one of the hottest buzzwords in computer science today: the Semantic Web." Another article on July 9, 2007 in Business Week titled, "A Web That Thinks Like You" also describes the Semantic Web software work that Radar Networks is developing "could help transform the net."

And finally, yesterday I found a Firefox Browser extension called Piggy Bank, that will let us publish Semantic Web data on our web sites now. The Wiki for Piggy Bank provides a download, installation instructions and several pages of instructions for users.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Delighful Description of the Visible Universe

Anthony Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho and has written a delightful story about the Visible Universe as photographed by the Hubble Deep Field Telescope in 2003. Published in the July/August 2007 Issue of Orion Magazine the article is titled, Window of Possibility -"Why the Hubble Ultra Deep Field is the most incredible photograph ever taken."

Doerr's humerous numerical and comparative analysis should provide us with a much needed perspective of our importance and place in the universe. Please read the whole article. Below are a few quotes to whet your interest.

"Earth is a clump of iron and magnesium and nickel, smeared with a thin layer of organic matter, and sleeved in vapor. It whirls along in a nearly circular orbit around a minor star we call the sun."

"The sun comprises 99.9 percent of all the mass in the solar system. Which means Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc., all fit into that little 0.1 percent."

"But, truly, our sun is exceedingly minor. Almost incomprehensibly minor."

"We call our galaxy the Milky Way. There are at least 100 billion stars in it and our sun is one of those."

"There very well may be more galaxies in the universe than there are stars in the Milky Way."

What the Ultra Deep Field image ultimately offers is a singular glimpse at ourselves. Like Copernicus’s On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, it resets our understanding of who and what we are."

"The Hubble Ultra Deep Field image should be in every classroom in the world. It should be on the president’s desk. It should probably be in every church, too."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Al Gore's holographic opening of live earth 7.7.7

I found an interesting article written by Cintra Wilson in Salon.com on July 8, titled "Al's big day." Wilson makes an interesting point that I have also noticed whenever I have heard Al Gore talk about Global Warming. "The concerts themselves assiduously avoided any mention of political agenda,... -- it was just a smiley-face, rockin' good time: proud, happy, respectful and, above all, hopeful --..."

I am convinced that most people want to have the best information available on environmental issues and are tired and wary of the constant partisan politics that flood the popular news services. Hopefully this new found public energy Al Gore and many others are stimulating will lead to much better environmental decision making in the near future. Social, community and environmental networking tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated and available. Anyone can now start learning how to use these new tools if we want to become active citizen participants. I hope this blog provides some related interesting information that is helpful toward this new era.

An example of 3-D I mentioned in my June 19th Blog entry can be seen in the YouTube video of the Al Gore Hologram opening the Live Earth 7.7.07 Concerts.



This YouTube video is shown in 2D, but at the Live Earth Concerts people saw the real hologram. I am interested in knowing if and how we can see holograms like these on our personal computers, and how they might be delivered on web sites in the future.

Does anyone reading this have any suggestions or links we can look at?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Current TV & Alliance for Climate Protection Ecospot PSA contest

Inviting citizens to produce stories, graphics, and photographs about various community concepts has been common in the past. Video capture and editing has also become commonplace and many new opportunities are becoming available for individuals and groups to share their community storytelling skills using amazingly powerful and affordable new media technology.

The most recent example was reported by Earth Times.org today citing a press release by Current TV titled, Current and the Alliance for Climate Protection Give Viewers ':60 Seconds to Save the Earth'. "Starting today, a personal call to action from Cameron Diaz will begin airing on Current TV asking viewers to submit their own ecospots to http://www.current.com/ecospot now through September 12, 2007. "



The video tells the story and the ecospot web page provides a few examples and concepts to spur the imagination.

The tremendous growth in personal submissions to You Tube and similar video sharing sites, as well as the exponential increase in personal and Group Blogs and Video Blogs suggests that a time may have arrived where anyone can create valuable multimedia which might change the way a community views social, environmental and ecosystem issues. I will have more to say about this concept as I further explore new trends in social networking opportunities.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Live Earth Concerts 7.7.07 & Google Earth

It is already 7.7.07 in Australia and Live Earth - The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis - are about to begin. This one day hopefully will lead to years of new social networking on global climate issues and will change the way humans think about the real and total cost of greenhouse gases we are producing.

Today, Frank Taylor (Google Earth Blog) posted a Google Earth KMZ file of the locations for each of the concerts. I was curious about the places where the events would be held and after doing some research I added some additional links to more information and created another

KML file that I uploaded to the Google Earth Community - Environment and Conservation topic. Here is a link to the page where you can download the file and use it in Google Earth to fly to, and explore, these places on every continent, including a special event in Antarctica.

I saw Al Gore on the Larry King Live show last night and he commented that the Live Earth Concerts are only one event to raise Global Awareness to billions of people. He has a plan to work with The Alliance for Climate Protection to keep education, information and public involvement going strong for at least three more years. One of these efforts includes inviting climate related video submissions from the public that, when approved, could be available on Current TV.

I will write more about these plans as I find information about them.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Google Earth Outreach - Conservation Networking opportunities

On June 26, Frank Taylor wrote on his Google Earth Blog that "Today Google has announced a new initiative called Google Earth Outreach designed to help nonprofit organizations around the world leverage the power of Google Earth to illustrate and advocate for the important work that they do." You can find more information on the new Google Earth Outreach web page.

Frank also posted a You Tube video Google recorded of the announcement and noted "I especially enjoyed the part where Jane Goodall was speaking to us via satellite and especially when she shared the chimpanzee greeting to us all."




As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I believe Google Earth (and similar programs) will play an increasing role in helping conservation and environmental networking efforts in the future and we should be learning how to use the many features of this valuable, free and very popular application . The Google Earth Outreach page contains a Showcase, Case Studies, Tutorials, Help, and Google Earth Professional Grant Application to enhance these learning opportunities for anyone interested.

Another Google Earth post on June 27, notes a new article in Wired Magazine. Frank titles his post "Google Earth/Maps is Changing the Way We See the World," and notes that Author Evan Ratliff Wired who wrote the article Google Maps is Changing the Way We See the World should have also included Google Earth in the title. Frank provided the following summary. "This article is a good summary of how Google Maps and Google Earth have had a significant impact in many ways on individuals, organizations, governments, politics, the environment and many other perspectives. It covers topics such as censorship, KML standardization, StreetView privacy issues, mapping politics, and user-generated maps.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Web 3.0 and the 3-D web emerging

Yesterday and today I came across a few very interesting articles that reinforce my ideas about how the web is changing from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 and even to a 3-D web. The entire interface for interacting with computers, operating systems and the web is beginning to change and will likely be much different as time goes on in the future. The "Croquet Consortium" includes some impressive computer interface pioneers who are now developing a free open source software platform and a network operating system to create powerful and highly collaborative multi-user 2-D and 3-D applications and simulations... A Wikipedia page also provides more information about the Croquet Consortium.

Google Earth may be the best example of socially useful geographic 3-D interface that in two years an estimated 250 million people have downloaded. The Google Earth Community is especially vibrant with users contributing all kinds of personal, social and technical information. We (Mountain Visions) have been producing immersive 360 degree panoramas and 3-D digital map fly in projects for a dozen years and immediately recognized the importance of the freely available Google Earth when it appeared two years ago. Now we and many others are in the process of creating kml files to hundreds of locations where they can visit web site panoramas, videos, multimedia sequences and still images.

Another popular 3-D web project is Second Life (7 million registered users) and several other similar projects that let people build Simulated artificial environments. Some big corporations and government agencies are experimenting with this kind of new project. I participate in Second life a little, but I prefer the reality of the environments that Google Earth maps and the projects contributed to the Google Earth Community represents.

One of the articles I read yesterday was titled "Second Earth" and suggests a combination of Google Earth and Second Life and other 3-D projects is a likely scenario soon. The very long and very good "Second Earth" article was written by Wade Roush and published in the July/August issue of the MIT Technology Review. I will include a few quotes from this article here.
_____
"The World Wide Web sill soon be absorbed into the World Wide Sim: an immersive, 3-D visual environment that combines elements of social virtual worlds, such as Second Life and mapping applications such as Google Earth. What happens when the virtual and real worlds collide?"

"For people who haven't spent much time in a 3-D world, of course, it's hard to imagine feeling comfortable in either. But such environments may soon be as unavoidable as the Web itself: according to technology research firm Gartner, current trends suggest that 80 percent of active Internet users and Fortune 500 companies will participate in Second Life or some competing virtual world by the end of 2011. And if you take a few months to explore Second Life, as I have done recently, you may begin to understand why many people have begun to think of it as a true second home--and why 3-D worlds are a better medium for many types of communication than the old 2-D Internet."
________

Another article today on C/net News.com titled "Looking for life in virtual worlds" notes that IBM, MIT and the Nature Conservancy are working on a 3-D Internet project to compile better visualization applications and better information about important river ecosystems. A link in the article goes to another C/Net News.com article noting that IBM and The Nature Conservancy are working to compile better visualizations applications about important river ecosystems. The second article titled "IBM to crunch numbers for river conservation" contains a statement that "IBM intends to set up software and hardware that will allow conservationists to create what-if scenarios and make more informed decisions..."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Decline of Common Backyard Birds

In Idaho, the west and worldwide the sight and sounds of common backyard birds is becoming less common. Bird watchers, scientists and anyone interested can see overwhelming evidence that this decline is due primarily to the loss of critical natural habit resources such as grass, shrubs, trees and water. Many of the same human development actions that are responsible for the increase of "Greenhouse Gases" also cause this habitat decline.

Recent News reports in the Seattle Times, The Oregonian (Oregonlive.com) and CNN.com have provided articles about a recent National Audubon Society Report that notes some species have lost more than half their populations in the past 40 years.

Video below - Sparr0w & Song- near Boise River.
by Gary Grimm - Mountain Visions
video

The Audubon web site contains a section called "State of the Birds" where it is stated that,
"Birds are important indicators of the overall health of our environment. Like the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, they send an urgent warning about threats to our water, air, natural resources, climate and more." On another page called "Common Birds in Decline" it is reported that "Since 1967 the average population of the common birds in steepest decline has fallen by 68 percent; some individual species nose-dived as much as 80 percent. All 20 birds on the national Common Birds in Decline list lost at least half their populations in just four decades."

A conclusion provided on the same page is: "The findings point to serious problems with both local habitats and national environmental trends. Only citizen action can make a difference for the birds and the state of our future."

If citizens want to see and hear a variety of birds, and want future generations to have the same opportunity to enjoy the many additional values that birds provide, we all need to be more active in making our views known to our friends, neighbors, communities, businesses and lawmakers. Social Networking concepts on the Internet that I am discussing in this Blog should provide some of these opportunities. If you are in Idaho and interested in being involved in a networking group about this topic please leave a comment or contact me personally.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Google Earth & Maps- Interactive Interfaces to Conservation Geography projects.

During the past two weeks news related to new features and examples of social networking concepts related to Google Earth has been abundant and exciting. I am especially interested in the new open source geoblogging features the Jane Goodale Institute's Gombe Chimpanzee Blog is preparing with the EarthWatchr project. Using a combination of Google Maps and Google Earth web site visitors can make comments about the interesting Blog posts. The comments will also be available to look at directly in Google Earth where the Blog was posted. Examples are already available to see how this can work. I can see how this example can be developed for many environmental, conservation, and natural resource projects in the near future. I have made contact with the webmaster for this project and will post additional comments in the near future.

Other Google Earth environmental and conservation projects that have been making headlines the past few days and weeks include the following:

Appalachian Voices -
470 mountain tops destroyed by mining.
Crisis in Darfur - Genocide prevention mapping initiative.
Eyes on Dafur - See the proof with yor own eyes.
June 10, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle article - Google to harness satellite power for an Amazon tribe.
World Wildlife Fund For Nature Projects around the world.
United Nations Environment Programme

For more information related to other new conservation geography projects that are constantly becoming available please look at the following sources.

Google Earth Blog
Ogle Earth
Juicy Geography
Where 2.0 2007 Conference
The Fifth Intenational Symposium on Digital Earth
Digital Earth Blog
Google Developer Day 2007 includes a YouTube channel to view 128 sessions taped around the world.

Also I should mention that many new Google Earth location entry projects are submitted every day to various sections of the Google Earth Community. See especially the sections on Environment and Conservation and Nature and Geography.

Of note, C/NET News.com News Blog and other sources have recently reported that Michael Jones, chief technology officer of Google Earth said "More than 200 million people worldwide have downloaded the application" and "that Google Earth, which launched two years ago, has also drawn more installations than Microsoft's Windows XP.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Encyclopedia of Life - A Semantic Web effort?

We were traveling and doing photography on river, stream and spring restoration efforts in Nevada when we heard E.O. Wilson describe the exciting effort to create the Encyclopedia of Life on the radio. When we returned to Boise I began to see many references and found a web site to this amazing collaborative networking project. For an excellent multimedia overview of the project view the flash video on the home page. A banner on this page contains the words: "Imagine an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth available everywhere by single access on command."

A brief summary of Encyclopedia of Life objectives follows:

"Ultimately, the Encyclopedia will serve as an online reference source and database for every one of the 1.8 million species that are named and known on this planet, as well as all those later discovered and described. Encyclopedia of Life will be used as both a teaching and a learning tool, helping scientists, educators, students, and the community at large gain a better understanding of this planet and all who inhabit it."

In blog posts last year in November, I wrote about concepts and development related to the Semantic Web. To me it appears that the Encyclopedia of Life will become a major contribution to the way we can find dependable deep knowledge about life and ecosystems on earth. Significantly the Encyclopedia of Life will use a Wikipedia type model with written and other content coming from a wide variety of sources. A FAQs page notes that "This material will then be authenticated by scientists, so that users will have authoritative information. As we move forward, Encyclopedia of Life and its board will work with scientists across the globe, securing the involvement of those individuals and institutions that are established experts on each species."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Shallow and deep ecological thinking

There is an interesting distinction often made between the way we humans engage in shallow and/or deep thinking about important processes that affect human beings and other life forms on earth.

I plan to study and write more in the future about these thinking processes and how they appear to influence contemporary decisions about ecology, economy, science, sociology, etc.

As a starting example related to human made global warming, it seems clear to me that an overwhelming majority of scientists worldwide are trying to think more deeply about the obvious human and ecological consequences and possible solutions to this huge and growing problem. At the same time some politicians and business corporations appear to be practicing shallow thinking about this issue and prefer to try to preserve some short term human economic gains. Representatives of this shallow thinking seem to prefer these shallow economic gains even at the expense or even the demise of other important life forms and ecosystems.

For now, I will post a few references that I have bookmarked and will add more comments about this topic in the future.

Bill McKibbon's Book -- Deep Economy

A short overview of Systems Theory and the Gaia Hypothesis

Green Economics - From Wikipedia

Deep Ecology - from Wikipedia

Deep Science

Jared Diamond Books:

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - Interesting PBS web site

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed - Interesting Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County web site.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Planet Green On-line Game

Today I saw a advertising link to a Planet Green Game, sponsored by Starucks Coffee Company in Collaboration with Global Green USA. The game is described as "a unique on-line game demonstrating smart climate solutions."

I played the interactive game part way through and found it quite interesting in the way it presented opportunities for my input into solutions to a number of climate problems my own community might face. The Planet Green Game also provides pages that help users learn how to Take Action, and learn About Global Warming, where you can download "10 things you can do to combat climate change," and become an e-activist.

I have seen other games that help young people and others of all ages gain a better understanding of the complex environments we live in. I am interested in knowing if anyone has compiled a list of good resources for such games that we can look at and build upon. If anyone has knowledge of such a list please comment here. Thank you.

Global Green USA is the US affiliate of Green Cross International, whose mission "is to help ensure a just, sustainable and secure future for all by fostering a value shift and cultivating a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility in humanity’s relationship with nature."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Barry Lopez Encourages Conversations

Tonight, in Boise, Barry Lopez told us about storytelling and how the words and ideas of a storyteller can, and should, have the outcome of encouraging new conversations and ideas in a community.

This Blog post gives me the opportunity to add my own comments to the story I heard Barry Lopez tell. I should note that an audience member asked Barry if the story he told tonight was written down anywhere for others to read? My interpretation of his response was that it was not written down anywhere except in the notes he held in his hand, and that we in the audience should go out and tell our own stories about what we think is important. He also said that if his talk stimulated this further conversation he had done his job. Here, tonight, I will add a few of my own initial comments to start doing my share.

Barry talked about the growing interest by individuals to participate in their communities and to take on the role of helping to solve problems and providing future opportunities that current Federal, State and local governments are not. He believes young people are especially motivated in this direction, but all of us, even older generations, can and should be integrally involved as well.

I met Barry a few times in the late 1960's when we both lived on the McKenzie River near Eugene, Oregon. He was a young writer, gaining a reputation and I was involved at the University of Oregon in a community outdoor recreation and environmental networking project that had connections in many colleges and communities in North America. For more than a decade from the early 60's until the late 70's much has been written about the tremendous citizen collaboration and community participation in environmental issues with people of all ages that helped create a positive environmental perspective on the future in America and around the world. Many people in the Boise audience tonight may have also been involved in this exhilarating and exciting process.

Somehow, this "flash" of energetic citizen involvement seems to have been diminished over the last 25 + years. I believe Barry Lopez told a story tonight about how these conversations and community involvement can be revived and that we should expect current and future generations to again imagine and shape the future in positive ways.

Barry Lopez left us tonight with a very positive message and "Hope" for the future.

There were many other parts to the story that Barry told tonight about polar bears, climate issues, and people he has met in other countries. As he writes and tells these stories I know people are encouraged to start good conversations with friends and neighbors in their own communities. And, as Barry also noted that the good storyteller fades into the background as this happens.

Thank you, Barry Lopez.

His talk and story in Boise was provided by "The Cabin Literary Center."