The story of stuff…

A friend sent me a link to this site which headlines an animated movie looking at our collective mass consumerism model.

While a diatribe against consumption is somewhat outside of the usual subject matter of this blog, and arguably somewhat opposed to things I write about (yep – that sexy new MacBookAir is another example of perceived obsolescence that is one of the energy sources for the consumer society), I’d like to think the life I lead is at least a little balanced in terms of total foot print.

It’s tempting to turn this post around and say that in fact SaaS is a more environmentally friendly way of delivering software (and it is – more energy efficient, less hardware demands at the user end yada yada yada), but that would be somewhat opportunistic.

So what do the readers think – is our focus on things tech yet another addition to consumer society or are there ways that tech can help”cure the disease” (if indeed the contention is correct that consumer-itis is an affliction)

There endeth my shade-of-green post for the day.

8 Comments
  • The site is quite well done, and interesting.
    So thanks for the link, even if it’s not related to SaaS :-)

  • Great movie, well worth the watch! The message I got from it isn’t that tech is a problem, or that clothes or iPods are; it was that the paradigm is the problem. The disposability is the problem. The lack of awareness of the true cost of our lifestyles (and Raf Manji would have a lot more to say on this point thanks to his experience with TruCost) is the problem.

    Thanks for sharing :-)

  • Falafulu Fisi |

    Heh, first she is inconsistent about what’s she preaching about. She has 2 shirts (a gray T-shirt , ie, first layer of clothing and a blue shirt on top of that). Why is she having 2 layers instead of 1 ?

    I can’t stand all these greenie lunatics.

  • Hi Ben,

    I aired by concerns in a comment on the, Reacting to the trend towards Free, topic where I criticised the conventional (and flawed) business model, which encourages a throwaway culture through planned obsolescence and as you mentioned and perceived obsolescence (incremental innovation) in a bid to maintain their revenues.

    I personally believe that the concerns of the people behind The Story of Stuff are warranted as the Industrial Era economic model has done enormous damage to the natural environment,but it cannot last much longer, especially as more people in the Third World begin to demand the sorts of lifestyles that those of us in the West have become accustomed to, but thankfully there are alternatives.

    There has been much research done that contends that ICT industry has tremendous potential to reduce the negative impact that we have on the environment. One of is here.
    http://www.aci-citizenresearch.org/Final%20Green%20Benefits.pdf

    I think that geeks (who are now the technology trendsetters) are not necessarily uncaring about the impact that they have on the environment, but they are both unaware of how large their impact is and perceive that it is possible to reconcile their concern for the environment with their desire for the latest and greatest technology.

    I personally blame the myopia and lack of imagination of the corporate bosses for this sad state of affairs, but thankfully I believe that in the near future we will witness a paradigm shift from the outdated Industrial Economy where passive consumption is the norm to a far more participatory Information Economy where the line between producers and consumers becomes very vague, which is exemplifed by Eric von Hippel’s Democratizing Innovation and the work of Michel Bauwens at the Foundation for P2P alternatives.

    http://www.ideaconnection.com/articles/00010-Democratizing-Innovation-The-Shift-of-Innovation.html

    http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Main_Page

    I think one company that is on the right track, is Nokia, with their Eco Sensor concept, which combined with an open access mobile network like Verizon’s, could be the trendsetting product that leads the way for the rest of the industry in reducing the harm that electronic goods does to the environment and services envisioned by Dana Blankenhorn in his Always On technology proposition.
    http://www.nokia.com/A4707477

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071127-verizon-opens-up-will-support-any-device-any-app-on-its-network.html

    http://www.danablankenhorn.com/alwayson/index.html

  • Can you please upload my earlier post Ben?

    Thanks

  • Done Jamesy – not sure what happended there – sorry

  • No worries Ben.

    All good.

  • the kazzoom-brookes postulate springs to mind here…..we wlive in a world of infinite possibilities constrained only by our imagination – our ability to transform energy and matter and of the ecosystem to absorb the outcome.

    the only problem now is we don’t measure that relationship..so really we don’t know the answer.

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