What Technology will Define the 21st Century?

Technology can have unintended consequences. The automobile was designed to get people from here to there. What perhaps wasn’t foreseen at first was the changes it would have on society. The car enabled people to flee the cities and move to the suburbs. The structure of how we all live and work was completely transformed.

The car certainly defined the 20th Century. What will define the 21st Century? Hand held devices like the iPod or iPad are off to the early lead. If you are sitting at home your iPad probably isn’t far from your reach. Outside, people no longer really look where they are going because they are checking their email on the iPhone. We have even had to pass laws to get people to stop talking on the phone while driving.

There have been a lot of direct consequences of the iPad and devices like it. It has already transformed our leisure life. It has taken all of the media and games we consume and brought them to us in a new way. One of the things that made it so effective was how adaptable it was and how much you could personalize it. [Read more…]

David Brooks Tells a Sad Story that Just Isn’t True

David Brooks tries to make some pretty interesting revisionist history in his column in The New York Times today. Too bad it’s completely untrue. Brooks writes

Al Gore released his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006. The global warming issue became associated with the highly partisan former vice president. Gore mobilized liberals, but, once he became the global warming spokesman, no Republican could stand shoulder to shoulder with him and survive. Any slim chance of building a bipartisan national consensus was gone.

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The Next Green Marketing Revolution

The green marketing revolution on the past several years was haphazard at best, characterized by rapid growth and tentative consumer endorsement. It is not surprising that it ran out of steam in 2008 and 2009 during the onset of the global financial crisis. Every company under the sun was attempting to come out with a new green product to show their concern for the environment. Major brands such as Clorox and Arm & Hammer created significant new green products that with their reach, distribution and marketing dollars brought in new green consumers who might not have ever purchased a sustainable product before. [Read more…]

How to Change the World

The beauty of The Story of Stuff has always been Annie Leonard’s concise and simple way of getting to the bottom of things. Her videos, done in partnership with Free Range Studios, have had a minimalist visual style to match. All of which have helped to breakdown complex topics, making them accessible  to a wide variety of people. Leonard is now taking things a step further with the Story of Change. Not satisfied with people just making incremental changes in their own life, she wants to help catalyze a restructuring of our political economy. Here’s a look at what she has in mind: [Read more…]

What to do about Big Organic?

I’ve heard the complaint that big business will inevitably dilute organic standards as early as 2005. I’m sure people in the sector have been saying it for much longer. Now in Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized? The New York Times gives fresh ammunition to the debate:

Over the last decade, since federal organic standards have come to the fore, giant agri-food corporations like these and others — Coca-Cola, Cargill, ConAgra, General Mills, Kraft and M&M Mars among them — have gobbled up most of the nation’s organic food industry. Pure, locally produced ingredients from small family farms? Not so much anymore.

Sales of organic food have been growing by over 20% for quite a while now, so all of this was inevitable to a degree. While dilution of organic standards is nothing to celebrate, the growth of the sector is. The article points out that

The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store. The industry’s image — contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms — is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing. Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic.

[Read more…]