Organic vs. Local

Newsvine poses an interesting question:

If given a choice between purchasing either organic produce that has been grown in another country or non-organic produce which has been grown locally, which choice would you make and why?

You can submit your answers before 12am Pacific US time (not sure when that is exactly).

My initial reaction is buy local over organic – but it depends on a few things… Unfortunately I don’t have time to think about a full response.

Climate action at Bondi – Tomorrow (Australia Day)

Google is taking aerial shots of Sydney tomorrow, Australia Day 2007. Some enterprising campaigner has put out the word that there is a global warming action at Bondi tomorrow:

Are you in Bondi tomorrow?

8:30am Bondi Beach TOMORROW (Fri 26 Jan)

Make a human sign: “VOTE CLIMATE” for the Google Earth Aeroplane

Meet South end, at the big “Climate Action Now” banner, wear a dark colour, bring an umbrella and a beach towel. RSVP to “The Walk Against Warming Team”, ehowden@nccnsw.org.au so we know what size to make the letters.

We need at least 100 people – that means we need you!

I can’t make it. Can you?

Latte Lexuses?

David over at Oikos posts an excellent overview of car efficiency standards in the US, and how they might apply in Australia. Café standards for cars: Espresso Excels and latte Lexuses.

Al Gore mentions efficiency standards in An Inconvenient Truth, and they are also referenced, from memory, in Who Killed the Electric Car. David’s piece gives a good overview (including the costs to manufacturers) and also suggests that such standards wouldn’t be as effective in Oz.

Update 26-Jan-2006: Martin Eberhard responds to the energy portion of Bush’s State of the Union speech with specific discussion of CAFE standards.

Hugh on Blogging

It’s already been linked to death – yes I’m late to the party. But this really is a must read for anyone working in social/participant/citizen media. gapingvoid: random notes on blogging. My faves:

16. The day you can write as compellingly and consistently as say, Kathy Sierra, Jeff Jarvis, Guy Kawasaki or Michael Arrington, will be the day I start taking your complaints of low traffic seriously.

I know what he means about Kathy and Jeff – I’ve not read enough of Guy and Michael to know.

20. Blogging will never be a mainstream activity so long as being able to write [A] well, [B] often and [C] about stuff THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT remain the main barriers to entry.

23. Another way to know you’ve arrived: When you realize that every business relationship you’ve established in the last twelve months was a direct result of blogging.

Related to that latter point – I’m simply amazed at how much communication between musicians in the Sydney music scene is done via Myspace. If you don’t have a Myspace profile and you want to play, you still can, but it’s a lot easier if you’re on Myspace…

39. If a blog doesn’t allow comments, then yes, it’s still a blog. People who say otherwise are just getting in touch with their ‘Inner Idealistic Wanker’.

I so want to use that line in real life: “Inner Idealistic Wanker”. Love it!

Making a difference

Jason Kottke points to a very moving story “4 Generations” Water Buffalo:

‘4 Generations’ is a film short documenting my journey in southwestern China (near Tibet) to first find, then deliver a water buffalo to a poor family. The water buffalo led us to a family with an phenomenal story. Inspired by author, educator, and founder of photo.net, Philip Greenspun’s post, and donated by Philip and his friend Craig.

I read the story – but watching the video really has a big impact, so I’d recommend checking it out.

This is one of the reasons I love Kiva so much – it makes these type of stories possible. I would be happy to donate the funds I loan – but by providing 0% interest loans, that money is able to give again and again, while still making possible great things for the loan recipiants.

How many bloggers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Seth Godin on the issues of marketing compact fluros.

CF lightbulbs have a story problem, plain and simple. They need to stop looking so weird, being so expensive and being so hard to open. Either that, or we could just grow up, suck it up and deal with it.

I assume the “being hard to open” is because the ones you can buy in the supermarket are often blister-packed – which are a PITA to open.

P.S. you can get CFLs online at Neco, or in bulk here and here.

(As a side note – can anyone tell me why neco.com.au doesn’t default to the shop rather than the silly splash screen?)

SBS advertising

SBS has been one of my favourite TV stations for some time – good intelligent programming that would never be seen on any other free-to-air station. In the last place I lived, however, the reception was pretty poor, and I wasn’t able to watch SBS for about the past 6-12 months.

In our new place we’ve got great reception and I have discovered that they’ve introduced the practice of interupting their programs with adverts. Previously they ran ads at the end of each show.

Their old method of advertising was actually one of the really nice things about SBS – I didn’t mind the ads. Often left them running before or after a show I wanted to watch. I don’t know why, but the ads they ran also seemed to be less mainstream and a bit more interesting than the purely commercial stations.

Now that they have switched to inserting ads into their programming, it feels odd and intrusive. Something about it just doesn’t feel right. And the ads they’re running seem less refined. And some of the special-ness of the station has been lost.

I was going to write to them to express my concern when I spotted an ad on SBS last night that points viewers to this FAQ page. They’ve obviously had a lot of responses to warrant giving up a revenue generating spot to tell their viewers why they changed.

Under the section “Why has SBS introduced in-program advertising?” they say:

SBS must increase its funding base if it is to continue to produce high quality news and current affairs services and unique drama, documentary and entertainment content. As much as possible, SBS believes that this content must be original and reflective of the diverse nature of Australian society. This is how SBS will retain its relevance.

The current funding model (commercial and government funds) cannot guarantee this. SBS has not received an increase in government funding in recent years and, for the reasons explained below, the current commercial model will not deliver the needed extra resources.

They then continue:

Research has shown SBS consistently loses almost 60% of its viewers because of these extended breaks. Viewers simply change channels or switch off due to the long gap between programs. It is no wonder that the commercial networks have all but eliminated between program breaks in an effort to retain viewers.

So the lack of government funding, and the unwillingness of their viewers to put up with ads means that they’ve reverted to the tried and true, yet highly annoying, method of the commercial networks.

The funny thing is I’m now more inclined to switch channels during their programs – something I never used to do. And often I’ll end up on another station for a while watching their. I wonder what their research says about standard viewing patterns in terms of audience drop-off during ad breaks? (I suspect that one of the reasons the Ten network puts in little 10 second spots telling you it’s a short ad break – so you’re less likely to switch channels.)

I’d love for the government to step up funding to avoid this. Or for someone to come up with a great idea for generating additional revenue for SBS outside of this method of advertising. But unfortunately I don’t think either will happen…

It’s a shame – and I can’t help but think that SBS is now on a downward slope towards programming for advertisers in order to secure additional revenue. I certainly hope they maintain their commitment to “produce high quality news and current affairs services and unique drama, documentary and entertainment”. Otherwise I fear they might find their audience dwindling faster than the rate they find new revenue opportunities (just like all the other networks).

Update 2007-01-30: mebbe this thread of Doc’s will present some interesting food for thought.