Monthly Archives: August 2002

How green is your laptop? A thread on the awesome Barbelith Underground about sustainable computing musing about more viridian design alternatives has emerged:

“Machines are constructed to obsolescence – especially computers. That’s about as environmentally friendly as disposable batteries and plastic bags. It’s a lunacy.

So where are the computers built to last? The boxes made of something other than plastic, where modular components can be inserted, discarded, or added on as new levels of power become available?”

I have a very beautiful sliver of titanium, silicon, polycarbonate etc. on my desk that is the result of some fairly intensive and wasteful wittling down from enormous lumps of ore and rock.

At Doors6, John Thackara questioned precisely this myth that computing technology was ‘lightweight’ by asking the audience to imagine the ‘ecological rucksack’ that his powerbook actually represented – the raw materials discarded in order to manufacture the objects that power what we perceive to be lightweight, modern and immaterial. He paced the stage describing the 50ft by 50ft by 50ft cube of material that had to be winnowed down into the A4-sized plastic clam of his powerbook. Very powerful mental image.

» Barbelith Underground >> Laboratory >> Sustainable computers?

N.B. Doors7 earlybird registration closes tommorrow. I just registered. Andrew Otwell has posted an eloquent description of why it’s such a great event. I;d only add that, at the time of going to my first Doors I was left baffled and unmoved by a lot of it, and thought I may have wasted my money… only to find themes and ideas from the event percolating up through my thoughts and into my work for the rest of the year…

From the excellent growing debate and commentary section “The People Vs Copyright” at

“Quite simply, then, copyright turns symbolic forms into property, and market conditions ensure it is held and exploited by corporations. But this is not a reality which sits very easily with public opinion. For while the concept of private property in tangible goods, or chattels, is deeply ingrained in Western societies, the same cannot be said about symbolic works. A strong consensus, emerging first in the Enlightenment, has it that culture should circulate freely. The Romantic movement then contributes the idea that art and commerce are opposed, that the artist is in heroic opposition to the drive for profit.

It is something of a contradiction, then, that in the modern era the figure of the Romantic artist is invoked to justify copyright – the very basis of commerce in culture.”

» “Beyond romance and repression: social authorship in a capitalist age” by Jason Toynbee

architect wins air guitar world championships

Zac Monro, a British 30-something architect has won the World Air-Guitar crown for the second time, with a spirited rendition of ‘Fell in love with a girl’ by the White Stripes.

Three points I’d like to make:

Okay. Sorry. I promise I will write something about design soon. Although I find leaping around doing air-guitar integral to the process of creating great user-experiences.