Mobile tech + democracy = awesomeness

So I’m in this class called mobile journalism, and we’re doing a lot of cool stuff.

Liveblogging Arianna Huffington was only the beginning—we’ve Skype’d with people in Africa and Japan on the same day about how they use their phones, Skype’d with Kevin Thau, a VP of Twitter about (what else?) the future of Twitter, and now we’re designing the mobile presence of Chicago News Cooperative, the new nonprofit heavy-duty reporting outfit that covers the city for the New York Times.

Also my fridge project is for this class. Orion Magazine, whose photo project was inspiration for mine, has tweeted about me TWICE THREE TIMES. They’re my favorite mag and have been called the most important environmental magazine, so you should know I’m psyched. Feel free to follow my prof, Dan Sinker, on Twitter.

But interestingly enough, today I felt compelled to post because of the textbook for this class—Mobile Design and Development by Brian Fling. An excerpt:

The Estonian government will be putting the concept of media context to the test in their 2011 parliamentary elections, allowing citizens to vote for their leaders using SMS. In this case, the government can tabulate results instantly. But imagine a day when citizens can vote on local or national issues in real time, eschewing having to wait for traditional media to report on the effect of their vote, instead seeing the results in real time, as it happens.

There are already many opting to use the mobile media context in order to be heard. On the immensely popular television show American Idol, more votes were cast using a mobile phone in 2009 (178 million total text message votes) than votes cast in the 2008 presidential election (131 million ballots cast).

If that doesn’t deserve an “OMG,” I don’t know what does.

My idea: direct democracy. I think it’s possible with saturation of mobile.

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Fridge project, follow me elsewhere

The inside of my fridge, shot with my cell phone.

For Mobile Journalism class I’m embarking on a project to photograph my fridge at least 3 times a week. It was inspired by a similar project in Orion Magazine. Find my work at

Also, a warning: I don’t often update, as you know. But I do update my Facebook and Twitter feeds several times a day. If you want to keep closer tabs on me, I suggest you check there. (My Twitter’s overarching theme is the environment, but I also inject thoughts about journalism, food, and communications tech. Naturally, Facebook’s a bit more about my personal life.)

Bobby Kennedy, Jr. liveblog transcript

Flickr CC photo by Erik R. Bishoff

Flickr CC photo by Erik R. Bishoff

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke at my school this morning, at an environmental conference. Had to post a stock photo because I don’t yet have a camera…

I ate breakfast with him before his speech, basically a preview of the kinds of things he was gonna say, then live-blogged the speech itself on The transcript of the liveblog is below for your consumption. I left out the analysis. If I end up doing that for a class, I’ll listen to a recording of the speech. (I’ll let you see that, too, if I do it.)

Gonna try to liveblog Bobby Kennedy Jr.’s speech at GreenTown Chicago. That is, until my laptop battery runs out.

RFK Jr.: Protect the commonwealth, the shared properties like air & water. The private sector takes them over when they pollute them.

RFK Jr.: “Environmental impact is defecit spending. it’s a way of loading costs onto our children’s future.”

RFK Jr.: Conversely, environmentally friendly stuff is not throwing money away, it’s an investment. It’s money in the bank.

#greentown RFK Jr.: We are borrowing a billion dollars a day from nations that largely don’t share our values…

#greentown RFK Jr.: …to buy a billion dollars of oil a day from nations that largely don’t share our values.

#greentown RFK Jr: Coal isn’t the cheapest source of energy: The U.S. subsidizes the industry $1 tril. annually; that’s not accounted for.

#greentown RFK Jr.: The reason we can’t have high speed rail in this country is because the coal gondolas have warped all the rail tracks.

#greentown RFK Jr.: “Whenever you see the destruction of the environment, you always see the subversion of democracy.” (“corruption.”)

#greentown RFK Jr.: As Sweden, Iceland and Brazil decarbonize, they give us evidence of the economic successes that can be had doing it.

#greentown RFK Jr.: There’s enough wind in Montana and S.D. to supply all the U.S.’ energy, even if every American owned an electric car.

#greentown RFK Jr.: We can do long-haul transmission of electricity. We need to do it. The problem? Stupid, “irrational” rules.

#greentown RFK Jr.: A CEO must choose between his loyalty to shareholders and his loyalty to humanity. That’s an unfair decision. Change it.

#greentown RFK Jr: Price of bits and bytes has dropped to about 0. That’s what’s gonna happen to electrons as soon as we build a nat’l grid.

#greentown RFK Jr: How do you pay back $1.4 tril? In 2 years, by saving the $700 billion a year we’re sending to places like Saudi Arabia.

#greentown RFK Jr: Solar-thermal: Roughly $3 billion a gigawatt, same as a coal plant. But free energy for the life of the plant.

#greentown RFK Jr’s green venture capital firm: we’re gonna take trillions away from carbon-energy in 10 yrs. “Destroy” em at their own game

#greentown RFK Jr.: We’re funding both sides of the war against terror… How to stop? Stop buying gas from the guys who drop bombs on us.

#greentown RFK Jr.: “Polluters make themselves rich by making everyone else poor. … You show me a polluter, i’ll show you a subsidy.”

Best of Twitter series 1: Personal

Flicker CC image from Muffet

Flicker CC image from Muffet

I tweet a lot more than I write on here, and I hate to leave you as-yet-Twitter-shunners hanging. So much that I share in Twitter might be useful to you, and I can’t stand that you’ll never see it. The Twitter broadcast on the left sidebar is only so useful, because inevitably you miss 80-90 percent of my tweets.

Thus my idea: I’ll split the best of my (currently 202) Twitter updates into a couple/few groups, and I’ll post them here en masse.

It’ll be jumpy reading, but journalism is doing weird things these days. See, that recently won a Pulitzer. Or this Motherjones article about the future of journalism — itself written in a semi-futuristic journalism form, no doubt influenced by Twitter itself. My last story about funding charity healthcare had a longish sidebar done entirely in bullets. I didn’t do it that well, but it was good practice for later.

I’ll publish one section a day. The sections will include:

  • 1. Personal
  • 2. Links to others’ (non-green) stuff
  • 3. My (non-green) thoughts
  • 4. My own green thoughts
  • 5. Links to others’ green stuff

Section five will have to be broken up into two days, since it’s so long. I guess that has primarily been my niche over the past 6 months. Here’s the first section today.


Curry’s wonderful. Just ate Kashi Moroccan Curry 7 whole grain pilaf: “Moroccan coconut curry with currants, lentils and a hint of ginger.” 12:24 PM Feb 19th is genius. It seems like the healthiest, tastiest recipes end up on here… And the author goes fresh and local as a rule. 12:15 PM Feb 26th

My wife got hit on today – “You’re married, huh?” he said. “Yeah,” was her reply. “That sucks,” he said. 1:00 AM Mar 21st

So the student newspaper at my college just got shut down by its publisher, the college. I will be a part of the underground replacement. 8:25 PM Apr 14th

RT @thechristin sick days. way more fun 10 years ago. 8:27 PM Apr 14th

One percent milk is genius. Skim and two percent are grossly inadequate. 11:36 PM Apr 28th