What to Do With the Waste On the Way to Trillions

I found the video below interesting in the way it, and it's creators at MAYA Design, provide a perspective of scale in the 'computer age'.

It touches on many issues including the need to change the way we think and act as we pursue being part of the trillions of 'computers'. While I think it fails to really draw some solid conclusions in favor of ending with the concept of "Too much information!" (Hey, we passed that 'millions' ago.), perhaps there are more videos planned to better explore the concept.

However, I was intrigued with the concept of computing as an ecology and the comparison of the trillions of computers to the trillions of cells in the human body. I can't help but take that comparison to the human body a bit further.

As the video points out, nature has solved the problem of trillions. In the comparison, the body has atoms that make up molecules, that make up cells, that make up organs, and those make up systems, etc. What the video fails to point out is that, while the human body has solved it, the history of computing has failed to address the problem of waste.

The human body, when used up and ceases to function, is relatively easily disposable. The human body eventually decays and degrades into organic material that disappears into the natural world. In fact, the only trace of a the body's previous existence is that which we humans have manufactured to surround it…caskets, crypts, clothes…not to mention all the stuff we have left behind.

The waste of the computer age, and it's physical leftovers, is much more difficult to dispose of. In fact, that waste is more pronounced and there is more of it because we dispose of computer related material simply because it becomes 'obsolete', something we don't do with humans. 

CNN recently cited that, according to the United Nations Environment Program, around 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste are generated worldwide each year…and that's at the current level. In 2008 a Greenpeace study, "Not in Our Backyard", found that in Europe
only 25 percent of the e-waste was recycled safely. In the U.S. it is
only 20 percent and in developing countries it is less than one
percent. They go on to estimate that 80 percent of e-waste generated worldwide is not properly recycled

Much of this waste is shipped to developing countries. While some of that waste can be repaired and re-purposed by local traders, most is dumped. In fact, a cottage industry and an associated organized crime element has sprung up around e-waste trading. Also, don't forget the impact on the human and environmental health of our planet. Much of this waste contains toxic materials.

While there has been progress in dealing with this waste, with companies using fewer toxic materials and establishing programs that oversee responsible disposal, there is still a long way to go to protect our natural 'trillions' from our computer 'trillions'. 

There is a responsibility that falls to all of us who use this technology to further our personal and professional gains to know where our "old" technology is going when we are done with it. While dumping our waste on other countries is nothing new, we interactive professionals, "geeks", continue to champion the building of communities connected by technology. We must all remember, as well as also champion the message, to help keep our world-wide community clean.

Hand check. How’s your handshake?

Since I’m writing in a world where the majority of
readers are “tech savvy” it might be easy to think I’m talking about the
“handshake” between computers. You know the static filled bong, bong that
greets the dial up connection. That’s actually far from the case. I’m talking
about the good old fashioned “stick out your hand, look you straight in the
eye, firm grip, ‘damn glad to meet you’ handshake.“

The hand shake started a long time before written history so
its explanation is pretty much a crap shoot. Accepted wisdom is that it began
as a sign of “Look Sir Bob, I don’t have a weapon.” followed by Sir Bob’s,
“Huzzah! Sir Vernon, I’m not packin’ either.” However it started, whether
performed in a social or professional setting, it has evolved into a vital form
of face to face communication as well as establishing that all important
first impression.

I went to school with my son a few weeks back for
orientation and had a chance to meet quite a few young men and women who, when
I presented my hand, either stared at it like a dog looking at a ceiling fan or
placed what could easily have been mistaken for a recently deceased snake or a
chilled summer sausage in to my waiting palm.

I’ve noticed that many of our kids today have no concept of
the handshake and how much it tells someone about you. I realize this is a
broad statement. I’m sure there are parents out there who have taken the time
to teach they’re kid the importance of that first handshake, though I haven’t
met a lot of those kids. I can’t tell, has it slipped from our minds that it
might be a good idea to equip our kids with this most basic of social abilities
or is it just not important with so many other things to address in the all
too brief time that we can make an impact on our children. By the way, it
hasn’t gone unnoticed by many people that there is a fair share of
adults who could stand a refresher course in the art of the “grip and grin.”

Here’s the deal, take a minute to do the quick “hand check”
with your kids or your friends. Is the palm presented quickly and without
hesitation? Is the grip firm, but not so firm as to crush digits? Is there sincere eye
contact, not the quick glance in the general direction of the face or what lies
beyond the person’s head? If it all checks out, no need for further discussion, go about
your business. If not, take a few minutes. Encourage your handshake pupil to
not hesitate to extend a hand, look the recipient of the “shake” in the eye and
smile, firmly grip the hand, making sure to lock thumbs and shake (bonus sincerity points
for adding the 2nd hand to make the “hand sandwich”, but let’s take it
slow). Please don’t shake so hard the shoulder becomes dislodged from its
socket, just a couple of firm pumps. Gentlemen, this
includes ladies. Ladies, this includes you! Shaking hands is for everybody; unless of course you want to
curtsy. Sirs Bob and Vernon would probably dig it, but let’s save that for the odd visit with the Queen.


Today there are just too many ways of communicating without
ever meeting a person face to face. Let’s make sure when we get the opportunity
to be sure not to present each other with a lovely halibut of a handshake.

Revisiting RemainComm

I want to take an opportunity to follow-up on some of the
posts you’ve seen here…

ADM-About Da Money-Things are rolling along with the
formation of the Association for Downloadable Media, most importantly the announcement of its
first open meeting. If you’re into the whole new media thing and your headed
for the Podcast and New Media Expo coming up September 28-30 in Ontario, CA,
the meeting will happen at 7:30am on the 28th. Learn more by
clicking here. I also want to encourage you to join, especially if you’re about
making money with podcasting or any downloadable media.

A Note For the Teacher-I heard back from my son’s
communications teacher and she is anxious to dedicate a unit to communicating
in the world of new media. I love that! She has also asked for my help. So I’d love
to hear from you. If you have ideas on what to include in teaching middle school kids about
text, e-mail, blogging and more. Feel free to e-mail me here.

Google gives a
little “push” to make more “pull”
-Some activity in the FCC auction of the 700mHz band. Though the FCC didn’t completely go along with Google’s requests
for a completely open platform, they did set aside some of the best real estate
in the spectrum to be used by a carrier “as a network that is open to any
devices and services.” Google still hasn’t committed to be part of the
bidding but Steve Jobs and Apple have started to express some interest. Apple
vs. Google, Apple vs. AT&T, “dogs sleeping with cats”…This auction, set for
January 16th, 2008, could be fun to watch, to say the least.

A Note for the Teacher

Dear ______,

I was looking through the
handout that came home with my son regarding your plans, expectations, and
policies for your communications class. I truly appreciate all your hard work
and will do everything in my power to help my son excel in your class and
develop a strong interest in communication as I have. 

Also, I wanted to ask if you
have anything in your curriculum regarding communicating in the “New
Media” world including e-mail, text messaging, voicemail, blogging, etc… If
so, great! If not, I’d like
to talk with you about the subject.

Whether it’s a one day topic or a
week long “unit”, the way our kids communicate today is much
different and involves a technology that’s quite different than previous
generations. Text messaging has already become the communication of choice
among our youth and has spawned a whole new “language” while e-mail is the
standard in the business community. It is vital that our kids learn the art of
communication no matter what the vehicle. They must understand the difference
between crafting a short story or composing a letter and how they text or
e-mail. Imagine Hamlet written “2B?” You’d have to agree that what we write
reflects who we
are as an individual, as well as whom we are as a society, to
readers now and in the future.

I know you have much on your plate
as a new school year begins and I’m sure there are many things you wish to
accomplish. I hope that this topic is part of your teaching plans, if not this
year perhaps next.

Again, thanks so much for your
dedication to our kids and thanks in advance for your time on this
discussion. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Phil  Wilson