Dec 14: Also posted at The Hacktory.
E-waste sucks. In the US we trash about 400 million electronic devices every year. A study published this summer says that soft circuits and e-textiles are on track to become an even more intractable waste problem, unless early adopters turn it into a green technology.
An article in the Journal of Industrial Ecology from August discusses how the very thing that makes e-textiles interesting–the unobtrusive integration of electronics and fabric–could make them an e-waste nightmare.
What makes traditional e-waste so difficult is that it contains valuable stuff like precious metals and rare earths, but in small quantities that are hard to recycle and laced with toxins.
Enter e-textiles. Who isn’t charmed by the idea of a biking sweatshirt with built-in turn signals or accessories that could let your doctor know if your heart rate goes wacky? Not only that, but soft circuits … Read the restRead More
Cross-posted at The Hacktory.
I’m at the venerable LISA (Large Installation System Administration) Conference in Boston this week. I just left a panel on Women in Tech. This rap session/problem-solving brainstorm was a great way to wrap up an exhilarating and encouraging year for women in IT. I was reminded of two of my favorite works on why the gender gap persists, not to mention lots of other diversity gaps: a 2006 study by the Free/Libre/Open Source Software Policy Support project and Skud’s amazing 13 minute breakdown of everything you need to know from OSCon 2009.
The discussion ranged from … Read the restRead More
Today I’ll be presenting about e-waste on the Penn campus for my former department.Â Penn folks are invited, but I don’t think it’s open to the public just because of space considerations. As usual, I’ll be talking about how e-waste came to be such a problem and why recycling is not simply the environmentally just thing to do, but also a smart hedge against volatile commodities markets.Â I’ll be making the argument that any country that wants to be a serious player in tech manufacturing ought to work on making new electronics out of old electronics.
I’ve done a little bit of reading to catch myself up on the changes in the rare earth market and e-waste landscape since I finished my capstone project.Â I found that the rare earth shortage I wrote about has lead manufacturers to find ways to use less of them in the past six months, … Read the restRead More
Add another C to CCC, this one for Classy.
Loyal readers will remember that I popped over to Berlin this summer to speak at Chaos Communication Camp.Â It was a blast, kind of like a really clever camping rave for geeks.Â Laser light shows every night, roaming art projects on trucks, invigorating conversation about internet freedom, and incredibly tightÂ organization and comfortable infrastructure to support about 3000 smart, curious, mischievous people in the woods for 5 days.Â I was incredibly impressed by how well the event ran, how creature comforts were taken into consideration, and how nice the organizers were.
I also noticed that every single time I looked around, I saw women.Â I didn’t feel gendered, and I never felt like my credentials were in question.Â As Bl00 has said, it felt like people assumed that if you were there, it was for a good … Read the restRead More
I support the Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Together movement.Â The wealth gap is a whole ‘nother macro thing, but this post is focused on my (admittedly limited) efforts to help the Occupy Philly tech crew boost their inclusiveness.Â Last night I did a little canvassing then talked to the tech crew on-site at City Hall.Â Before I left, I formed and discussed the recommendations below with the people I caught up with, and they liked the ideas.Â The folks I talked to at the tent were very busy but took time out of fighting fires and the General Assembly to talk about the issues.Â They were interested and receptive and I thank them for taking the time to reflect on their work process with me. Â The first suggestion came directly from the media working group, so I can’t take credit.Â Here’s an email I sent to the tech organizing list … Read the restRead More
Naomi Most, a contributor at Noisebridge, has post about the gap between the perceived and proven health benefits of red wine.Â She puts it in context by pointing out that the quickest way to get press for anything resembling science is to publish results that seem to vindicate a human vice.Â The resulting press-bob-bomb is seldom commensurate with the significance of the finding.Â My pet peeve is nature/nurture research that “explains” gender gaps, but that’s a different story, told beautifully by Terri Oda.
Anyway, here is my favorite line from Naomi’s post:
Red wine is being used to â€œsellâ€ scientific research about a phytochemical (resveratrol) which just happens to appear in a minute concentration in the beverage, much the way images of scantily clad young women are used to sell beer, especially in places where such women appear in minute concentrations.
Love, love, love.Read More
This Friday evening, BernieS, Far McKon and I will be at The Hacktory at 1524 Brandywine St. to share pictures, short videos, and stories from the absolutely awesome Chaos Communication Camp in Berlin last month.Â Come join us!Â It’s BYOB, The Hacktory will provide popcorn.
Thanks to my favorite Shiva for reminding me to include links to the slides and videos.Â :-)Read More
This weekend, Maker Faire touched down in New York.Â Sponsored by O’Reilly publishing’s Make and Craft magazines, Maker Faire is a craft and tech expo that happens in several cities throughout the year.Â Exhibitioners included robot makers, tee shirt makers, garden makers, radio makers…seeing the trend?
It happened at the New York Hall of Science in Queens.Â It was definitely a welcome recharge, and by the end of the bus ride back to Philly I discovered that I’d filled nine pages of a notebook with new sketches and notes.Â Here are some of my favorite participants that are making me re-think my stance on working alone.
I had a blast talking to Brie and Michael about their Philadelphia area slow-fashion clothing company, Reboot.Â They make simple, beautiful sweaters and jackets from the ends of industrial bolts of wool that would otherwise be discarded by large clothing … Read the restRead More
Co-working and shared workspaces are all the rage, but every time I hear a hackerspace advocate talk about that sense of community and how it’s better than working alone in your dark basement, I shudder a little.Â It’s wonderful that people are finding ways to team up and have more than any of them could on their own, and I love hearing about the serendipitous moments of genius that arise because the right people were in the same room at the right time.
But to me, “sense of community” often means “lots of people I’m not that attached to but spend unjustifiable amounts of time with, and a social contract that I don’t necessarily agree with”.Â I feel like hackerspaces and co-working joints come with an expectation that you’re looking for new buddies, but I already struggle to find time to spend with the most important people in my life, … Read the restRead More
Updated with concise list of links, 10/12/2011.
I recently got home from 9 days in and around Berlin for the Chaos Communication Camp, organized by the Chaos Computer Club.Â The Camp happens every 4 years and on a lark I submitted 2 talk proposals.Â To my happy bewilderment, both were accepted.Â I gave “There’s Gold In Them Circuit Boards:Â Why E-Waste Recycling is Smart and How to Make it Smarter” based on my thesis work on e-waste, and “Data Mining Your City:Â Early Lessons in Open City Data from Philadelphia, USA”.Â On the train from Berlin to the airfield where the camp took place, I met Florian Stoller who helped me give the city data talk.Â Besides being on the board of his local Pirate Party in Fribourg, Switzerland, he also helps run Be-Cause , a company that makes e-gov forms.Â He filled in the European perspective, … Read the restRead More