Folks. Folks. Folks. Folks…. I built an Android app!
Again, I’m designing for simplicity and for a focus on user experience, as well as trying to solve the problems that people in the industry are concerned about. This translates to 1) something that communicates at a glance 2) time-of-use prices for electricity consumption in Ontario (how expensive your electricity is now). So, I created an Android widget that sits on your homescreen and shows time-of-use through stop light colours. Red, Yellow, Green. Doesn’t take up much room. It’s that simple. It will end up looking like this:
Yup, just that tiny little lighting bolt.
I’d love it if you would consider testing it. Let me know how it goes:
I’ve thought a lot about where the environmental movement is stalling the most, and where I can help. Toronto has a good number of hard-working and earnest environmental charities and NGOs. But I’ve noticed that their messages are often communicated in similar ways that don’t necessarily draw people in the way they need to. So, I’m going to start writing a little on existing communications and marketing campaigns and websites of Toronto environmental NGOs and charities.
Why do I want to do this? Because these organizations work so hard, and when they decide to tell everyone about that hard work so that they can get more support (in the form of donations, petition signatures, etc) they do it in a way that doesn’t necessarily increase their reach and pull with people because they aren’t using best practices.
This is not their fault. There is a reason why these organizations usually have communications positions, because the way something is said is as important as what is said. Communications has a lot of best practices pulling from behavioural psych, environmental psych, marketing, and modern specialties like user experience, among others. It’s a lot to juggle, but absolutely worth it. Expect posts soon.
Here is a pretty good read-through of all the projects.I didn’t win, but I was involved in the making of Social Impact of Supply Chains and SourceQuest. I met some really clever, amazing people that are going to do wonders with their sustainability hacks. Everyone’s idea were truly great, and James Smith (from AMEE) has gotten some well-deserved attention for his clever Minecraft hack to include emissions and climate change.
This article points out that tools for behavioural change like smart meters don't really work if people don't understand the metrics involved. While it has been discussed before, this is a good reminder.
Recyclebank gives incentives for green pledges. Since I'm interested in how good green incentives work, i'll be keeping an eye on these guys.
This article makes a good point that open data may still be bad data, and asks whether we can tell when data is "cooked". This is, in my opinion, a natural step. In many research fields, there is peer review and validation (and verification) to assess accuracy. That is why meta-data like sampling methods are very important; others can then decide for themselves if the process is a reliable one. I guess we must start having a good look at how to adapt these processes to other open data projects. But this issue of "cooked data" shouldn't be considered a set back. To my mind, the open data isn't just about using data, but also about making available data better.
Elsevier had an “apps for science” contest (at http://appsforscience.com/) with a fancy API (hope they keep that open). I figured I’d go through the apps and see if there’s anything super-exciting. There’s apps that will read your paper for you, find author info on the semantic web, and rank the relevance of papers in the media. These are the couple apps that I thought could be especially interesting to me:
This app lets you search papers for a particular phrase. I think this would be particularly handy when you’re looking for a specific point; If you can guess the likely phrasing you can find some journal articles (like “importance of visualization in environmental decision-making” or “lack of quality in existing environmental metrics”), you can find papers that back up your point and add new arguments. I could have used this in my masters.
This tool allows you to post your ideas that arise out of reading a particular journal article. I like this because it also provides a bit of at message board so that academics can communicate to each other about a journal article.
This is a semantic tool for health articles. It’s utility lies in the semantic database behind it that “knows” what you are searching for and can relate a disease to symptoms, pharmaceutical treatments, and alternative treatment practices.
This tool helps you pick better keywords for your own paper in order to reach the right audiences and get more citations.
This is a cute biology tool that gives you a little specie encyclopedia for the species mentioned in a paper. Neato.
LCA tools for building and construction.
Geonames didn't have country codes, so i stapled this ontology/instance onto my copy of the geonames dataset.
Creative Commons has created a namespace for their licenses.
Life Cycle information for SMEs.
The Korean LCI database is only available in Korean. Google translate does a patchy job of conversion to English, so here's hoping someone fluent in Korean will eventually get around to translating some of this data.
Public/Private research group looking at energy needs. They have provided a LCI database of energy scenarios.
Another project of the Open Knowledge foundation; plenty of juicy open data.
The Open Knowledge Foundation is gathering and presenting public government data at publicdata.eu. Handy!