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May 01 2012

Welcome to the Anthropocene

Every living thing affects its surroundings. But humanity is now influencing every aspect of the Earth on a scale akin to the great forces of nature.

There are now so many of us, using so many resources, that we’re disrupting the grand cycles of biology, chemistry and geology by which elements like carbon and nitrogen circulate between land, sea and atmosphere. We’re changing the way water moves around the globe as never before. Almost all the planet’s ecosystems bear the marks of our presence.

Our species’ whole recorded history has taken place in the geological period called the Holocene – the brief interval stretching back 10,000 years. But our collective actions have brought us into uncharted territory. A growing number of scientists think we’ve entered a new geological epoch that needs a new name – the Anthropocene.

Probably the best-known aspect of our newfound influence is what we’re doing to the climate. Atmospheric carbon dioxide may be at its highest level in 15 million years. But this is just one part of the story; we’re changing the planet in countless ways. Nutrients from fertilizer wash off fields and down rivers, creating stretches of sea where nothing grows except vast algal blooms; deforestation means vast quantities of soil are being eroded and swept away. Rich grasslands are turning to desert; ancient ice formations are melting away; species everywhere are vanishing.

These developments are all connected, and there’s a risk of an irreversible cascade of changes leading us into a future that’s profoundly different from anything we’ve faced before. Little by little, we’re creating a hotter, stormier and less diverse planet.

The Anthropocene is a decisive break from what came before. Scientists are still debating exactly when it began – was it when our distant forebears started to farm the land? With the industrial revolution? With the dawn of the atomic era, even?

Whenever the new epoch started, we’re living in it now. And if our descendants look back in thousands of years’ time, they’ll see the evidence of our actions written everywhere in the rocks.

more on Anthropocene.Info

March 08 2012

We’re all employees…

It’s 8 am.

Millions of employees show up each day, to put their names on a register. The world we see around us… countries and continents, have been built on the back of these signatures. The future too, will be written by these signatures – signatures of employees.

You are an employee

Your boss is an employee

The cable guy is an employee

The overworked… the unsung

The white collared… the blue collared

The Father of a nation

Fathers and mothers, sons and daughters

Healers and protectors

The girl you will fall in love with

The graveyard shift veterans

Even Chief Executives

…actors, spot boys

Master-chefs and waitresses

…truth is we are all employees, putting our names on ideas that shape our world.

Truth is… every employee is a hero.

Enough said. Let’s go do what we all do best.

Let’s go to work.

Credits
Creative Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Delhi
Executive Creative Director: V Sunil
Creative: Akash Das and Sundar Iyer
Account Management: Tushar Mehta and Ankit Kumar
Director: Bharat Sikka
Production House: Flying Pigs Production
HCLTechtube

February 20 2012

(re)Thinking Cities

I’ fascinated with cities, Cities as a construct, Cities planning, Cities composition, Cities history, Cities inner and hidden flows and patterns, but I’m also concern about their future and their sustainability. So today when I saw the video above – Thinking Cities – by Ericsson as part of their Networked Society Series, I’m puzzled and surprised at the same time, it’s a short, simple movie but it summarizes much of the questions that flow into my mind when we discuss about cities.

Cities are a fabric of the industrial revolution they are the pinacle of urbanization. We, humans seem to be called upon cities as bees to the hive, we love their “energy”, the feeling of belonging (although sometimes it’s also the opposite – the feeling of anonymity they provide), but somehow cities ever beating, non-stop rhythm seems to as close to our heart as our own heartbeat. This is so true that 52% of world population is now living in cities for the first time in history.

On one end cities, consuming 70% of our global energy production, seem to one if not the, root cause all our “recent” societies problems, think about trash, pollution, food scarceness, energy production, crime, diseases, you name it. The other end is a much brighter one, Cities are the HUBs where all the creative energy seems to flow, taking an unprecedented levels of engagement and ideas generation, which as Geoffrey West, a scientist who studies cities, states in the movie is why it will also be the cities who will ultimately will drive the solutions for these same problems that seem to affect them today.

Technology is helping is see beyond the obvious, to understand cities as a distributed, alive, sentient systems. Technology allows us to better understand Cities. Technology allow us today in realtime to see the hidden patterns, the hidden layers of activities and flow as they happen. It’s as if technology is enabling cities to talk back to us for the first time. Question is are we ready to or even listening?

Social media tools seem to be forcing cities politics to be entirely reshaped as they empower individuals and groups, previously ignored to have a voice and reach to their ideas and movements like never before. These days to belong to a city means to be connected, to be part of the system. To live in a city is to be part of the collective, to loose part of our identity to become part of the the whole. To be assimilated. My actions affects those around while at the same our collective behavior dictates our quality of living, what we can and can’t do, what we will be able to do in the future.

So it keeps me puzzled if we’re so connected to each other, with so much technology already next to us, how come people seem to be more distant than ever from the structures that govern them?

How will we, as individuals or as a collective become more aware, more participative in the makings of the city around us?

How do we become better informed, more participative?
What tools will we need?
How will we act upon our findings?
Are cities the future or are they (and us) doomed?

So many questions popping up on my mind..
any ideas you may want to share?

February 07 2012

Urbanflow: an operating system for cities

In a time when the urban population has outpaced the one living in rural environments, our cities although a marvelous achievement (think about the logistics and food provision systems that power up a city), they tend to be inefficient, slow and disconnected from the majority of their citizens.

Urbanflow proposition, a joint effort of Nordkapp and Urbanflow (founded by Adam Greenfield) aims to take advantage of urban screens as means to provide not just locally-oriented information (maps, points of interest, etc.) but also to provide a wide range of more generic information about the city (air quality, traffic, etc), converting what used to be a static snapshot of information into an interactive window towards the ins and outs the city.

I found here in Düsseldorf a very interesting example of a realtime sculpture – The Energy Pyramid which displays in realtime the amount of energy, gaz and warm water being consumed by the city.

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