Networking for Undeveloping Regions

I wrote the short position paper below, with a bit of help from a colleague, for an academic audience, but never published it. Today I was thinking about it and realized that it synthesizes some of my thinking on computing and economic trends. For the last decade there has been an active area of computing … Continue Reading

Internet vs. Travel

A few months back, I was asked the following question via email: I am trying to find out how much power will be used, both in my home and on the systems computer hubs, if I were to use Skype for and hour and a half to people who live 20 miles away. Is it … Continue Reading

happy cycling

About two years ago I got rid of my car (a gas-hungry ’92 Mazda Navajo) in the hopes of buying a used motorcycle.  I figured that as long as I lived in Southern California, I’d at least sometimes need a motor vehicle, but if I had to own one it might as well be fuel-efficient.  … Continue Reading

A Singul(arity) Track Mind

I like reading things that I think I’ll disagree with. I just borrowed one such book from the library—Peter Diamandis’s Abundance. His book has gotten a fair bit of traction in the mainstream and technology press, and more than that Diamandis seemed to be one of the few techno-centric authors willing to at least attempt … Continue Reading

Horse Equivalents

What if we visualized cars with horses in front of them? We’ve gotten used to thinking about engines in terms of horsepower, but rarely step back to consider what that unit of power means: a rough equivalent in horses. Consider the Geo Metro. It was one of the smallest cars available on the U.S. market … Continue Reading

…And We Thought Nation States Were A Bad Idea

There’s a notion that I’ve been seeing crop up in more places: that our options for the future have narrowed. I’ve been wondering about this for a while—it’s a pretty basic set of questions when I think about it: what were our options in the past, what are our options now, what has changed, and … Continue Reading

Seeing the world through embodied energy

As Howard Odum noted in his classic work on environmental accounting, “The natural conversion of sunlight to electric charge that occurs in all green-plant photosynthesis after 1 billion years of natural selection may already be the highest net emergy possible.” Emergy—embodied energy—is nearly invisible to us.  In a previous post I looked at how emergy … Continue Reading

fossil-fuel vegetarianism

The book I credit most in my decision to go vegetarian is Bloodties by Ted Kerasote.  In a way that’s funny, since Kerasote himself hunts (and eats) elk, and doesn’t even advocate vegetarianism; but he offers a deeper way of thinking about food than most philosophers’ treatments, which tend to focus only on the harms … Continue Reading