Links for the Week - October 30, 2007

Sustainability and energy efficiency edition:

  1. Question to the local Mayoral race candidates about energy policy - I submitted a question to Mayor Hutton and Rick Thalls via the Pal-Item's forum, asking "if elected/re-elected, what specific steps will you take to uphold the commitment the City has made to improve the environmental health of our communities, reduce emissions, discourage sprawl, increase fuel efficiency, and reduce energy consumption? What steps have you taken in your own life to reduce your energy consumption?" I wonder if they'll respond on their blog?
  2. The Cuddle Mattress - if you're looking for a get rich quick scheme, just patent this idea today! (And think of all the heat loss prevented by more efficient cuddling.)
  3. A Quick Video Introduction to Peak Oil - a primer on the concept of peak oil and resources available to learn more. Created by Aaron Wissner, who I met this past weekend (and geeked out with a bit over his Canon HD DV video camera).
  4. Business Alliance for Local Living Economies - How can my business use less energy and produce less waste? How can I help my customers understand that locally owned businesses are important to the strength of our community? What new business opportunities exist for our region in the emerging green economy? BALLE has some good answers.
  5. smallisbeautiful.org - programs that demonstrate that both social and environmental sustainability can be achieved by applying the values of human-scale communities and respect for the natural environment to economic issues.

Technical Review of Richmond Mayoral Candidate Campaign Websites

As a web developer, I often can't avoid viewing every website I visit through that critical and technical lens. As has been the tradition in the geek community for several national election cycles, I thought I would take on a technical review of the websites belonging to the two current candidates for Richmond's Mayoral election, Sally Hutton and Rick Thalls. My analysis will look at graphic design, content structure, and overall usability. Note that this analysis is NOT meant to imply endorsement of either candidates` political views or campaigns as a whole.

Continue reading Technical Review of Richmond Mayoral Candidate Campaign Websites

Back from Peak Oil Conference, Year Three

I just returned from the Fourth Annual U.S. Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions, my third year in a row attending. As in years past, it was informative, inspiring and very practical. I've come away with another list of 50 things I want to do in my life and in Richmond to help address Peak Oil and climate change. I met some great people doing some amazing things in their communities, and made some connections that I hope will help us support each other.

For now I won't try to record the conference proceedings here (they'll be on DVD soon), but I have a number of blog entries in the works. If you're interested in hearing about some of what I learned, I'll also be covering it in a talk on Thursday, November 15th at 12 PM in a session called "Going Local: Building a Self-Reliant Richmond, Indiana." Join us if you can.

Using real names in online communities

E7EBC5781A8911DA.jpg I remember the first time I was logging onto a remote computer system (a BBS) and was asked to choose a handle - an alias for my online activities. There'd been plenty of times where a computer game or other piece of software had asked for one, but this was the first time when other people were going to know me by this name. Wow! I thought about it carefully...what nickname would be the best representation of my personality and my approach to life, while also exuding the appropriate amount of playfulness, mystery and anonymity? At the time, I chose something that might politely be called "lame."

Since then, I've used a few other handles that were more appropriate and cool (to me, anyway), but lately, I've decided that the handle that best represents of my personality online is the same one that represents it offline: my real name. And in most cases, I'm of the opinion that we should all use our real names when engaging in online discussion and community-building.

It's sometimes a suggestion that makes people uncomfortable, so I want to provide some additional reasoning to consider and discuss:
Continue reading Using real names in online communities

Sunday Links for the Week - October 14 2007

  1. Rest in peace, Rachel Burrell: friend, encourager, piano teacher, visionary, comfort to grieving children everywhere, and an amazing woman.
  2. Seven principles of community building: don't try to control the message, transparency is a must, participation is marketing, concept of audiences is outdated, build value, inspire with real information, manage distribution media to grow.
  3. A new episode of my podcast (online audio broadcast), the Richmond News Review: a great interview with Jason Truitt of the Palladium-Iteme, who talked candidly with me about the state of the paper's citizen journalism efforts.
  4. Unconference: a new way to bring people together and Open Space: a new way to run productive meetings. The next time you're considering having a meeting, gathering, summit, conference, colloquium, retreat, seminar or workshop, consider using these formats.
  5. Do you really know what's in that Chipotle food you're eating? Find out with the Chipotle Nutrition Calculator. My (now formerly) usual burrito has 1,336 calories in it.

Sunday Links for the Week - October 7 2007

  1. In the theme of nefarious co-opting important activist ideas into consumerist culture, apparently the cosmetics and plastic surgery industries are working on appealing to women with a new and unfortunate message: conforming to traditional notions of beauty is the new feminism.
  2. If you've ever received junk e-mail, you may be interested in the massive network of zombie computers (maybe even yours) that is powering the efforts of spammers and network abusers everywhere: Gathering 'Storm' Superworm Poses Grave Threat to PC Nets. Scary stuff.
  3. When you are in conflict with a partner, there are only two possible intentions: you either intend to protect yourself from hurt feelings or you intend to learn and grow from the experience. The difference between the two approaches can be the difference between successful conflict resolution and failure.
  4. Richmond residents are invited to a debate between mayoral candidates Sally Hutton and Rick Thalls this Wednesday. And did you know there are 17 people currently running for President of the United States? Wow.
  5. For consultants: Every project and every office has multiple personality types. How you work with them and how you manage the rationale of decisions and feedback is crucial to your success. By applying the right relationship management techniques, you can calm tension, communicate more easily, run your projects more efficiently — and you might get additional work since the relationship with the client will be strong from beginning to end.
  6. What does it mean to be on the ball? It means you've got good Flow. Especially important if you're creating websites.