shopping

Digital Eco Logic

Recently I have been thinking a lot about ecology and its relationship with digital. I’ve been engaged in some interesting projects that surfaced some of the thinking I am describing here.

The stories most people get are pushed by main stream broadcast media which is solely concerned with volume, thus the prevalence of disaster stories. Well disaster stories are just a page in a usually more encompassing story. Where are the other pages, who is writing them and how can we link them back to us and our consumption habits?

First there is the realization that the vast majority of ecological disasters can be linked to retail, supermarkets… spaces where products meet the consumer/user.

Over Fishing in the east coast of africa is mostly done by chinese fleets. Local coastal populations struggle to survive with the few fish which are left. Disaster. Unwinding the narrative thread:  Who signed the treaties that gave away all the fish? [Page 1] Which boats/corporations are doing the fishing [Page 2]Where is the fish processed and by whom? [Page 3] Where is the fish distributed? [Page 4]. An organization such as Greenpeace can get create a page in this story where they ask for donations in order to hunt down these fleets. Users can create pages where they organize a demonstration…

Disaster: Deforestation is Central Africa. Who in local government is allowing for this? Stories of the people who are affected, directly and indirectly? Where is the timber being shipped to? Who is buying it? Where is it being processed? Where is it being distributed to? What products is it ending up in? All of these are pages in a story. Some may be missing, but the idea is to empower everyone to participate.

We vote every time we choose a product from a supermarket shelve, from a furniture shop… A few years back we started ‘voting’ for organic and now we see more organic produce on our shelves (out here in high income countries anyway). The same needs to be applied to every product. We must be given visibility over what we are using/consuming. Most of the time the story is missing pages. Most of the time it’s invisible, to the benefit of corporations who continue to blindly take part is the plundering of our resources.

We must reward all products who get their story right and by default penalize those who have missing pages or no story at all. It’s just like voting. New tools for awareness. As a  witness I can participate and add to a particular page, gain eco capital. As an organization I can create a page and ask for consumers/users to donate for a particular demonstration, for a particular project to help improve the lives of those on the far end of the story line.

The map is important, yes. But to be able to access product stories on the act of consumption is more. It’s at that point that we make a choice: to reward or to condemn. It’s also at the point of purchase that I want my social network to surface if any of its members has liked or dislike this particular product. It’s also at this point that I am more likely to donate for a particular project which is making this type of product possible.

The space of opportunity is immense. It mixes user awareness, story telling, and established architectures of participation.

> Wiki logic.
> Stories/pages easily accessible with mobile when in the presence of product.
> Look at different ways to graphically represent stories, depending on where they are accessed. Books, Clusters, Maps…
> Always give preference to an architectural logic where we cross-reference Social Networking, Pages and Products.
> Possible Augmented reality.

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