Political Compass (2011 edition)

In November 2003 I posted about a little online test I did called the Political Compass, which I thought was interesting. Last night in conversation with a friend the topic came up again, and I thought it might be interesting to have another crack at the test, to see how my views had shifted (or not) in the 7+ years since I last did it. Seems I’m growing in my lefty tendencies — in 2003 my figures were:
Economic Left/Right: -5.50
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.51

Today, I sit in roughly the same position in terms of economic views, but I’ve shifted significantly closer to the libertarian end of the spectrum:
Economic Left/Right: -5.90
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.38

My political compass values as at 20 Mar 2011

I have to admit, I was surprised to see such a significant shift, even if only in one dimension. Will be interesting to try again in a few years time…

Project on local markets and social technologies

As part of the core subject of my uni course each semester each student undertakes a self-directed project.  The projects can be of varying shapes and sizes, ranging from more theoretical (such as my report on design thinking and sustainability) to the more practical.

This semester I’m undertaking something in between — part research, part practical — centred around this semester’s “theme” of sustainable food production.

Sharon Lee’s “FlavourCrusader” concept (then called “What’s for dinner”) was selected as one of the projects to be explored at the Australian Social Innovation eXchange (ASIX) Social Innovation Camp held in March 2010.

The long-term vision for the project is to:

  • connect urban food-lovers (“foodies”) with the origins of their food
  • increase consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables (with improved health outcomes)
  • strengthen local economies threatened by supermarket chains

It hopes to achieve this by using social technologies, such as mobile phone applications and Twitter to either promote in-season, fresh, locally-grown, and sometimes organic produce.

In the short-term — and as a first step — the project is seeking to develop a local in-season food guide with a mobile application form-factor.

Such a system has the potential to make purchasing in-season, local produce more convenient, with multiple flow-on benefits:

  • Provide additional marketing/selling opportunities for local producers
  • Reduce food miles
  • Create direct connections between the urban community and local growers, with social, economic and sustainability education benefits

The emphasis of the service, from the end-user perspective, is convenience and good, quality food, rather than the sustainability outcomes.  In this sense it differs from some existing products/services that are out there.

In keeping with my philosophy of human-centred design, I believe the service’s success is dependent on an understanding of motivations, barriers, needs and context of use for producers, local markets and customers.

My project this semester is designed to provide some additional insight into each of these participant groups, including exploration of:

  • What are the key drivers for existing customers (e.g. those that attend farmers markets) taking advantage of farmers markets
  • What are the barriers to existing customers buying local produce (e.g. of those motivated participants, what stops them from buying more regularly)
  • What level of interest exists in such a service among the existing customer base
  • What is the current level of use of social and mobile technologies with customers, producers and markets (e.g. @PrahranMarket on Twitter)
  • Similarly, what drivers/barriers/interest exist for such a service for potential customers — e.g. those that are interested, but for whatever reasons aren’t as active as they would like
  • What are the needs of producers (including local markets)
  • What level of interest/capacity is there to utilise such a service
  • How, if at all, would such a service link with other digital platforms such as FoodConnect

I’m posting all this as I could use some assistance.  Firstly, if you have any resources/pointers/contacts etc. that you think would be useful for the project, I’d love to hear about them.

Secondly, I’m looking for participants for some interviews related to purchasing locally produced food — either people that shop at farmers markets etc. and buy locally, or those that would like to, but for whatever reason aren’t able to do it as regularly as they’d like.  I’m also interested in folks that are using social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc.) that fit this profile.

The interviews would be about an hour long (at most) and could be done via phone or in person, at a time that suits the participant.  I’m happy to pay for a meal if the interview happens around lunch or dinner 😉

If you are someone, or know someone, that might be interested, please leave a comment or email me on gyoung AT pobox DOT com.


SMEs and environmental management

I’ve just completed my first “official” assessment item for my uni course, and I wanted to share it here for my own future reference, and because it may have potential interest to readers as well. It’s called Opportunities and challenges related to SME implementation of EMSs (PDF 176 KB) – and fair warning, it’s not exactly bed-side reading 😉

The format of the assessment restricted the length to 3000 words, though I could have gone into a lot more detail on a number of the points raised in the paper.

In particular I’m disappointed I couldn’t go into more detail about some of the thoughts I had relating to the implications of the findings and their application to encouraging SME uptake of sustainability practices. That said, I’m sure there’ll be plenty more opportunities throughout the course to do so.

As this was my first assessment, I think I overdid it on the reading front which was reflected in the ridiculous length of the first draft! All the same I really enjoyed all that extra reading – it’s more that I need to balance that with actually getting the writing done. Lesson learnt for next time I suppose.

Anyways, I hope it’s of interest and use. Now onto the next one…

What’s going on?

So what has been going on? In short:

  • I’m about 6 months into a personal training program with Vision Personal Training at Stanmore. So far I’ve dropped from 98kg to 84kg and am feeling better than I’ve felt in a long time. I’ve found the hardest thing is managing my food – especially keeping my carbohydrate intake balanced. Surprisingly the exercise side of things has been pretty easy. I finish up in a month, so then will be on my own – hopefully I’ll be able to keep the good habits going…
  • I’ve moved into an office in Elizabeth street – sharing a space with the crews from Saasu and Datarati. We’re on Level 1, 111 Elizabeth Street in the city (CBD – between Market and King street). I’ve been enjoying riding into work and it’s great to be working in a more lively environment than the study alcove at home.
  • I’ve started uni, studying the Master of Sustainable Practice at RMIT. No, I’m not moving to Melbourne (although I’m really enjoying the place) – the course is structured with one intensive mode study day per month (usually a Saturday) so I’m flying down for that and doing the remainder remotely. Ironic in a sense to be flying for a sustainability course – but I offset both through Virgin Blue (to let them know I care about carbon reduction, but they use credits from forestry-based sequestration projects which I don’t believe are sufficient) and also Climate Friendly for good measure and to ensure that there is a real reduction in CO2 to offset the flights. So far the course has been going ok, though I am a little behind due to work commitments – I have my first official assignment due tomorrow – so reminding myself what that’s like.
  • I’ve joined the Executive Committee of our apartment complex strata plan as Secretary – and the experience has been, shall we say, challenging… Trying to implement measures to increase transparency and accountability into decision making processes, in part by using online tools like Basecamp, is part of my goal. But frankly, I’d just like for us to have consistent hot water! So small steps first…

That’s the “big ticket items” I can think of right now. The remainder of my time has been spent rebooting Zumio and with family & friends. Been a bit hectic on the work front – so looking forward to things settling down a tad over the coming weeks (and perhaps being a bit more vocal here…)

Long time, no write…

It’s been ages since I’ve written here. Combination of factors – partly because I’ve been busy with work and other things (more on that in a second), but also because I’ve not really had a clear idea what I wanted Synapse Chronicles to be.

A lot of my writing energy (and any spare time) has been going into the Zumio blog, particularly given the convergence of my personal and professional interests. Any small notes and pointers have ended up on my Delicious feed (and there have been issues with the Delicious re-publishing process I setup to get those on the blog) or Twitter. And with Fuzu now finished up, I’ve not really had much to talk about even on the music front.

Over the weekend, however, I realised that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and exploring – especially about my career direction – but I’ve really missed the opportunity to talk about it. I’ve felt compelled to write about only fully formed thoughts on the Zumio blog, and that mentality has carried over to here.

So, I’ve updated the tagline now to read “Thoughts loading… Processing…” to reboot my own conception of what this blog is about in the hope that small conceptual shift will loosen the writing process and allow me the mental space I need to write a bit more freely about what’s going on.

I’m certainly not promising anything, but let’s see how that goes…

Happy snaps from Hong Kong

Hong Kong street scape

I’ve just finished uploading and captioning on Flickr the few photos I took while in Hong Kong.

For some reason I felt really self-conscious about taking photos on the trip, so most of them are taken on the one “tourist” day I did, when I went to Lantau Island to see the cable car, Big Buddha, Po Lin temple and the Tai O fishing village.

Thankfully some other folks have taken some great shots of the other interesting things I saw, like Man Mo temple, the Peak, Tsim Sha Tsui at night and the experience of catching the MTR rail service.

I’m still waiting for Google Street View to launch in Hong Kong to see if they snapped me as the Google car rolled past. Might be the most fortuitous holiday snap of them all…

Career moves

Over at the Zumio blog I’ve posted about a recent career shift to start at Inspire Digital. Over the jump is a bit more on how I came to the decision, what it means for Arketype and where I see things heading…


Launching The Point

So in my recent busy-ness, I’ve neglected to post on what’s been happening in Fuzu land…

First single

We recently ran a competition asking folks to choose our first single from our new EP The Point – which they thankfully did 🙂

We’re kicking off with Fire Exit, which you can check out on
MySpace or download from the Fuzu website (does anyone know where the download link went from MySpace’s player? We’ve enabled downloading, but can’t seem to see the download option in the player anymore…)

Launch gig

Launch gig poster (details reproduced below)

We’re booked in to launch the EP at the Supper Club on 9 July.
The Rapids and Sean Carey, who also engineered the EP, will be joining us for the night.

We’re looking forward to officially launching the EP and showing off the limited edition packaging; each is hand screenprinted and numbered, and featuring fab artwork from We Buy Your Kids.

We’ll also be playing the tracks off the EP and debuting some new material. Should be a fun night 🙂


The Point is now available on iTunes – which is always a buzz. We’d be stoked if you could leave a review as well. (And just a note that you can also get our previous EP Between The Lines there too…)

Barry Schwartz on our loss of wisdom

Excellent TED talk I got to watch over the weekend on the “loss of wisdom” in society that, in part, led to the collapse of the economic system.

He begins by focusing on Barack Obama’s appeal to our sense of virtue, rather than material things nor our call to rely on and trust the state. A great talk – well worth the time to watch…

Victorian Bushfires

Over the past two weeks we’ve all been reeling from the news coming out of Victoria, of the devastation wrought by the bushfires.

Although I’ve been silent here (and on my personal blog) this has been primarily because I simply don’t know what to say. That said, there are times for words and times for prayers – an event like this is a time for prayer in my opinion…

Needless to say my thoughts and heart join all those at the memorial gatherings today in sending my best wishes to all those touched by this tragedy.