Thursday, March 06, 2008

ETech: Closing Keynote

I'm in the closing keynote of ETech. First up is Alex Steffen talking about Building a Bright Green Future.

If those 4 billion people on their way out of poverty in the third world adopt our life style, we're 'all cooked'. We need sustainable development.

Interestingly, Alex is arguing that one of the key ways to encourage sustainable development is the education of women. That the example of the first world shows that giving women rights, and choices, means that less children are born.

He's also arguing that out small steps at home, like recycling, aren't going to help. We need systematic change. We tend to think the way to solve cars' ecological problems is to invent better cars. But the big problems with cars aren't under the hood.

Vancouver car ownership is down by 40% and 70% of the trips made are by foot. It is possible to build livable downtown communities, the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon.

But density also allows us to think about how we deliver goods, webfronts like Nau, and delivery companies like City Cargo, a pilot project in Amsterdam to test whether using cargo trams to deliver goods in the inner city is viable.

Just by showing people the effect of their actions, then people's actions change. Cars that have real time mileage meters get better gas mileage than the same model car where the only difference is that it doesn't have the meter.

Update: Next up is Lew Tucker talking about Twine and the Social Graph Meets the Semantic Web. I'm really surprised that people are still talking about social graphs so much, especially here which is supposed to be an emerging technology conference.

Lew is giving a demo of Twine, which is an invite only social network. Looks pretty cool, but it also doesn't look such a big step change to Facebook that someone on the street with be able to tell the difference. I can see the difference, I can see how semantic tagging is a step forward, but I can tell you straight off that people who aren't alpha geeks won't be able to...

The interface is also way, way, too complicated. I'm sure it's going to be really popular with the Silicon Valley crowd, but the outside world? Anyway, social networks are well, over. They aren't particularly interesting anymore, geeks might not be bored of them yet, but the rest of the world is getting tired. They'd rather go down the pub and talk to people...

Update: Next up is Micah Sifry talking about Digital Democracy, and using technology to engage with the democratic process. Maybe it's just me being cynical, but is anyone engaged in the democratic process these days?

Update: The final talk of the conference is by Timothy Ferriss talking about his 4-hour Work Week.

I don't trust an inbox in my pocket in the same way I don't trust dark chocolate in my house, I don't have good enough impulse control

Interestingly he came up with the title of his book by running a Google AdSense campaign, with the suggested titles are the text. He went with the highest click through rate.

...we're done. Time to head to the bar.