“I’d Rather Be A Cyborg Than A Goddess”: Getting a PhD in Geek

My dear friend Christina is as humble as she is brilliant, which makes it easy to overlook things like this. Dr. Christina Dunbar-Hester’s Ph.D level syllabus on technology and media at the School of Communication & Information at Rutgers was profiled in The Atlantic back in September and I only just found out about it by poking around her Rutgers bio.

Her comments start by saying that basically, everybody likes to talk about how technology drives political and social change, but it’s important to look at how culture shows up in technology itself. Her dissertation, “Propagating Technology, Propagating Community?” dealt in part with how geeks, particularly political geeks, form their identities. For example, how do you form a geek hobby group with gender equity when the people who show up and WANT that gender equity, are mostly men? Bonus: a friend of a friend called it the only funny dissertation … Read the rest

Up On The Roof: The Legalese of Green Roofs and Rooftop Farming

On Saturday Feb 12, I gave a talk with Zhenya Fomin of the Energy Coordinating Agency and a former green roofer, on the zoning, permitting, and engineering realities of green roofs and rooftop farms, at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park. The talk was part of the Second Saturday Gardening series, and you can check out the other great offerings here and by clicking around the Extension website here. To register for future events, call the Penn State Philadelphia Extension office at 215- 471-2200 Ext 100 or just show up. The event is $10 and the funds go back to the Philadelphia Master Gardener program.

  • Here’s a copy of the talk including a bunch of resources and links to tax incentives, how-to guides, and rooftop farms around North America.
  • Here’s a copy of Community Design Collaborative’s work for PRooF.
  • Finally, here’s a fantastic article about rooftop farming by Phil Forsyth
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E-waste Talk from The Next HOPE

In July, 2010 I presented a talk on my thesis topic, electronic waste, at the Hackers On Planet Earth, or HOPE conference in NYC.  My main interests around the topic are environmental justice, externalized costs, and transboundary movement of commodities. Sounds a little dry, but it’s plenty juicy. Here’s a link to the presentation.
Electronic Waste: What’s Here and What’s Next.Read the rest

Site Visit with AIDG in Guatemala

Para leer esta historia en Español, por favor escribame a steph.alarcon@gmail.com y trataré traducirla!

This past winter, I spent a month in Guatemala studying Spanish, checking out appropriate technology projects, and zipping around the geologically manic country around the Western Highlands. Here’s a reportback from a visit to the offices of the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG). I got to check out some prototype wind and solar designs and take a peek at their new kit-built CNC machine and custom circuit board designs.  Later, I got to poke around the office and come along on a site visit to a biodigestor installation they did outside of the city.  It lets the farmers nearby turn animal waste into organic fertilizer and cooking gas while reducing greenhouse emissions.  I got to hear about the combination of technical and user friendliness challenges they encountered and saw how the system is working now Read the rest