How Developers Save the Planet


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Ignite 2010 Sydney Talk

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  •\nWelcome to the modern office.\nIn an extraordinarily short time software has worked it’s way into every corner of modern life.\n
  • Maybe another what’s missing?\n\nPicture of a tree-barren landscape!\n\n
  • Now we have an existential challenge: Sustainability and the subproblem, Climate change. We have about the same length of time to solve it. This risks of inaction are enormous. My thesis is that developers can lead the way.\n
  •\nBill Gates was once an Indie. In what might be the biggest TED talk of the year, Bill Gates says this is the biggest issue affecting the poorest 2 billion. He calls for reaching zero impact through energy miracles.\n
  •\nI just want to huge him and give him a big kiss on the cheek but there is a problem with this line of reasoning. But Bill should recall the ld adage of software engineering. There is no silver bullet. In sustainability as in software, there is no quick fix or technology that will make the project successful. So let’s get on by apply what we have here and now.\n
  • I recognise this from my 20 years in the software applications business competing against Microsoft. This is the classical “Adoption problem”, when you’re introducing new systems and trying to get people to change habits. Green energy, farmers’ market, cycling or walking. This is something we as software developers can solve!!\n\n\n\n\n\n(Need to think about how to make this understandable outside of software)\n
  • We learn that the only way to break through this is show the vision of a better future with that technology. I know a lot of indie developers and each starts with a view of \n\n\n\n
  • Bill McDonough talks about the sustainable world is build ecologically balanced systems of abundance, like the natural world. This new system has more liveable cities, better tasting. You feel more healthy. Some of the most beautiful and clever designs are cradle-to-cradle. This is what I believe, and I’m directing my apps towards this purpose.\n\n\n\n
  • Bollocks you say. We’ve been the ass of the Wall St. bull. We’ve seen Infotainment spin IPCC errors into a full conspiracy theory. We’ve seen our leaders fail us on Copenhagen. I can’t blame you for being cynical. These are big systemic problems standing in the way.\n\n\nTODO: courtesy flag and comment on flickr photo.\n<div xmlns:cc="" about=""><a rel="cc:attributionURL" href=""></a> / <a rel="license" href="">CC BY-SA 2.0</a></div>\n\n
  • Fortunately there is a huge pressure to be transparent:\n* Shareholders\n* customers\n* Regulation\n\n\n\n\n\nTODO: research this quote a bit more. Read around it.\n\n
  • First we need to make use of the government’s proof of concept with Open Data. It’s raw and rough at the moment but it will only get better if it gets used.\n\n\n\n\n\nGov 2.0: \n
  • This is going to be a $4.3 billion market in 7 years. Let’s make sure that data is available.\n\n\n\nCarbon Accounting will reach $4.3B in 2017\n\n\n
  •\n\nLook at CC diagram. We need people in each of these areas pulling data together and developing open source conventions to share it, update it and give people access through REST APIs on, say, the Google App Engine.\n
  • \n
  • Hans Rosling\n
  • This of course creates a lot of user generated content, which can be used as well.\n
  • These are both projects that are trying to take data and bring it down to the personal level.\n
  • Of course, it is an understand to say that these tools aren’t ready for mass adoption.Need to build commercial tools to bridge the last mile. These tools need to get into all aspects of life.\n
  • Every corner of life, pulling open data, polished and usable.\n
  •\n\nIf you’re a Open Source developer, Indie developer building products and wanting to make a buck. Or developer inside a company wanting to be more transparent. Or if you’re looking for an open source project. Join a project, start a project or build a project and let’s create a viable and sustainable future.\n\n
  • How Developers Save the Planet

    1. 1. What is missing? Some rights reserved, Soren Harner Photo courtesy of pepemichelle/3645212088 @ flickr CC
    2. 2. Every corner of modern life 20 18 16 You are here 40 Years Australian CO2e per person 14 12 Google @ Stanford 25 iPhone Microsoft founded 8 Wikipedia Mac TBL @ CERN Facebook 6 Linux GNU 4 UNIX in C 2 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050 Courtesy World Bank X Axis Data from Wikipedia
    3. 3. Sustainability 20 18 16 40 Years Australian CO2e per person 14 12 Google @ Stanford 25 iPhone Need to be here Microsoft founded 8 Wikipedia Mac 6 TBL @ CERN Facebook Coding skills needed Linux GNU 4 UNIX in C 2 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050 Courtesy World Bank X Axis Emissions data courtesy World Bank
    4. 4. Zero Impact“Energy Miracles” Photo courtesy of mcandrea/1990431019 @ flickr CC and
    5. 5. Bill, there isno silver bullet Photo courtesy of eschipul / 4160817135 @ flickr CC
    6. 6. Classic “Adoption Problem”People resist change Photo courtesy of adrizinhansm / 4271821725 @ flickr CC
    7. 7. Step 1: Envision and promote aBetter Future
    8. 8. Abundance Photo courtesy of xerones / 141357725 @ flickr CC
    9. 9. Bollocks! Entrenched systems Lack of trust in Wall St, IPCC, politics (e.g. Copenhagen) Photo courtesy of TheTruthAbout / 3019980637 @ flickr CC
    10. 10. Step 2: Access to dataTransparency “If you’re going to be naked you better be buff.” — Don Tapscott Wikinomics
    11. 11. “Raw Data Now”Government 2.0 OpenGov Data Sets AU NZ UK US 0 1250 2500 3750 5000 Data courtesy of and photo
    12. 12. It’s out there, good luckCorporate Sustainability Data 420 kg CO2e Courtesy of
    13. 13. Open source sustainability linchpin ofData and Code Corporate Gov 2.0 CC You Research
    14. 14. Step 3: Put data onHuman Scale
    15. 15. Courtesy of
    16. 16. My personal power consumption. Embedded energy in my phone. Courtesy of
    17. 17. Mapping where your stuff comes from Courtesy of
    18. 18. Step 4: Build commercial toolsMake some money
    19. 19. On my phone... Locavore GoodGuide
    20. 20. Step 5: Recruit othersWhat I’m doing now Some rights reserved, Soren Harner Photo courtesy of wikipedia commons File:Furthur_02.jpg