Sounds Iranian

October 20, 2007

Pop!Tech:Save Oceans

Filed under: Pop!Tech — soundsiranian @ 8:17 pm

deep.jpgParis Marashi reports from Pop!Tech conference:For us to lead healthy lives, we need healthy oceans. With oceans taking up 75% of the planets surface, and 99% of its volume, it is without doubt that what happens in the ocean has a major impact on our lives. Today Claire Nouvian, Enric Sala, and Ted Ames gave some insight into the way that the damage of our oceans have occurred, and possible solutions to these problems.

Claire Nouvian, a filmmaker, journalist, and now the curator for a deep sea exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, explains how deep sea creatures (such as those in the image above) are a mystery to many, and the major threats that occur as a result of deep sea mining, dumping, and trawling. Bottom trawling is a fishing method that destroys tons of fish within seconds. For example, seven tons of Orange Roughy can be caught within 20 seconds. These fish mature around the age of 20-25, and some live to be 200 years old. She argues that if we are fishing so rapidly, especially since these fish take so long to reach sexual maturity, they may very well go extinct.

Enric Sala describes our study of the coral reefs. His metaphor explains it best: “Imagine you are an alien from another galaxy who has heard Earth has something called cars. Your spaceship lands in a junkyard beside a rusting automobile with a dead engine and no instruction manual. There is just enough power in the battery to start the windshield wipers when you press a button. From this you deduce that a car is something that allows you to contemplate a landscape comfortably when it’s raining. This is just like marine science. People started researching marine ecosystems long after they were damaged by human over-fishing, pollution, coastal development, and global warming. We’ve been studying this rusty car for too long, it’s time for a new approach. To know what marine systems are truly capable of we must look at the few pristine places that remain.”

Hence, Sala is creating new initiatives that allow interested people to save the oceans while taking a trip to some of the worlds most beautiful waters. His plan is to protect these unexplored areas of the ocean and bring a small number of tourists to pay money, people from the media and national geographic to document these developments, and to empower the local communities who live in these areas to protect the integrity of these pristine ocean environments.

Ted Ames brought up some fascinating solutions to problems he has witnessed to extinctions that have occurred in the course of his own lifetime. For example, the lobsters of maine fisheries were almost depleted in 1932, and today they are at 76% of Maine’s industry. To save the other fish of the region, they can use the similar methods and techniques used to increase the lobster population. This includes the protection of their habitat and reproducing females, control over the amount of fishing taking place, and an apprentice program.

October 19, 2007

Paris from Pop!Tech:The Pursuit of Happiness

Filed under: Pop!Tech — soundsiranian @ 7:58 pm

This morning at Pop!Tech, presentations were given by a number of inspiring speakers including Dan Gilbert, Carl Honore, and Jonathan Harris.

Dan Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, spoke about risk, specifically our ability to deal with the risk of global warming given the nature of our brains. Our brains have evolved for millennia to respond to immediate things. However, often times global warming does not appear to us as a threat for these reasons:

1. Global warming does not have a face. Our brains are accustomed to responding to people and recognizing that they are threatening. If global warming had a gun and was walking toward us, we would recognize and respond immediately.

2. Global warming does not arise emotions of revolt, disgust, and dishonor, as a threat to one of our moral beliefs might create. Since global warming does not arise visceral emotions, as food and sex—we are less likely to be enraged.

3. We see global warming threat to our future, but not to our present.

4. Our brains are sensitive to relative, rather than absolute changes. If a change is slow enough, we cannot recognize it. For example, if someone turns on a candle in a bright room, we will most likely not notice a shift in the brightness.

Carl Honore, author of the book “In Praise of Slow”, translated in numerous languages, spoke about the International Slow Movement, and its contrast to a culture that is obsessed with speed. He states that Slow has a great role to play in the 21st century–and as we learn to take our time, shift gears, and work “smarter”, we find that we produce work of higher quality, are more creative, and intelligent. His message is clear: less is often more—and slower is often better.

In Italy, the slow food movement began to raise awareness so that people can take pleasure in food, and recognize how the quality of cultivation and preparation has an impact on our body (digestion, taste, pleasure, etc.) Honore describes how working less can actually mean working better. Some of the most successful schools, countries, and companies promote vacation, free time, and relaxation. By working more slowly, we can take time to process what we learn, and in result be more creative. Additionally, he explains how the constant barrage of electronic equipment actually decreases IQ.

Finally, Jonathan Harris spoke about some of his projects, including We Feel Fine, which in my opinion is one of the most extraordinary and emotional data visualization projects I have ever seen on the web. The content of this site has brought me to tears on numerous occasions. The site aggregates content from all around the web, searching in blogs for variations of the words I feel, I was feeling, etc….Check it out at wefeelfine.org

October 18, 2007

Paris Marashi is in Pop!Tech Conference

Filed under: Pop!Tech — soundsiranian @ 10:27 pm

Paris Marashi,great vlogger and a Sounds Iranian member, reports everyday about Pop!Tech Conference. She is among a few luck bloggers who are invited to Pop!Tech.

First report:Mobile Empowerment, Data Visualization and Emotional Mapping

Andrew Zollie introduced the first session of the Pop!Tech conference. This is an event that takes place in Camden, Maine each October. Zollie is the host and curator of the Pop!Tech conference in the beautiful Camden, Maine—a place that inspires and moves the spirit with the changing colors of leaves, crisp, fresh air, and beautiful bays surrounded by trees that stretch for miles.

The guiding set of principles and theme of this years conference is The Human Impact, shaping the way we impact the mental and cultural environment. Attention this year is specifically on the psyche (what does it mean to be human, psychologically, biologically, emotionally), systems (the working systems of oceans, consumerism, agriculture, etc), and solutions what can we do to solve the problems that we face?).

On Wednesday, a series of sessions were hosted with topics ranging from Slow Food, Mobile Empowerment, The oceans, and Islam. Mobile Empowerment: Dialing Social Change was a Wednesday session with EPROM, Mobile Active, and Nokia. Here, KatrinVerclas from MobileActive.org, discussed major shifts and developments in how mobile technologies impact social change. Nathan Eagle is a researcher who talked about the Entrepreneurial Programming and Research on Mobile Devices (EPROM). He sets up learning and collaboration sessions called SMS bootcamps. Nathan leads SMS bootcamps to help establish new applications for mobile phone users worldwide, and to create a widely applicable mobile phone programming curriculum. Some excellent resources for Python development are available in the new book, Mobile Python and Nokia’s open source projects, here.

The first session today included two artists who deal with the communication and visualization of the vast amounts of data that surround us each day. Chris Jordan spoke about how we can raise a collective consciousness of our mass consumption, specifically through his “Intolerable Beauty” series which depicts images of industrial yards, car and cell phone dumps that show the enormity of consumer culture and the intensity and scale of mass consumption. He hopes to raise an awareness of consumption in the US and to create a visceral experience so that people can truly feel its impact enough to change the way things are taking place.

Christian Nold had a compelling presentation and has created an entirely new type of mapping—he uses emotion to map how the city impacts us, and how we are effected by our experience in the city. He uses Participatory Sensory Mapping, where he temporarily blindfolds and deafens people so that they can re-explore their local area without hearing or seeing—using senses such as smell, touch, and vibration. Nold additionally spoke about his BioMapping project, where he uses a gadget similar to a lie detector to read how people feel in specific locations within the city, and visually presents these feelings on maps. (Farsi link available soon).

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