Digital Contributing to Climate Crisis

Gerry McGovern writes in his latest newsletter: Digital Contributing to Climate Crisis:

According to “The Cost of Music,” a joint study penned by the University of Glasgow and the University of Oslo, greenhouse gases were recorded at 140-million kilograms in 1977 for music production activities (vinyl; plastic packaging). Moreover, they were at 136 million kilograms in 1988 and 157 million in 2000. In 2016, the age of streaming, greenhouse gases were estimated between 200- and 350-million kilograms in the U.S. alone.

“Storing and processing music online uses a tremendous amount of resources and energy,” Dr. Kyle Devine, an associate professor in music from the University of Oslo explained, “which has a high impact on the environment.”

Furthermore, I read an article a while ago, which said that the amount of energy consumed by a voice assistant while turning the lights off or on is significantly greater than the amount of energy required for a human to get up and turn the lights off or on.

Bet you thought doing everything online was guilt-free or carbon net zero. But vinyl is made from petroleum, so that is bad too, right? Do we go back to 8-tracks? Cassettes?

I know that I have been giving more thought to the volume of data I keep ‘online’/in the Cloud. Photos, documents. All this stuff takes server space which also means electricity and energy. Whereas before I had been keeping things redundantly on different servers/platforms, I’m trying to trim down my ‘digital footprint’ as well.

It also raises an interesting question with regards to my kids and the next generation of data users/hoarders. My kids will be of the first generation to grow up completely ‘online’. As such, when they move out, presumably, I’ll have to facilitate some sort of ‘massive data transfer’ of all their photos, documents and other ephemera that are currently stored on the ‘family’ computer. There’s a discussion there to be had and a protocol to be established for sure. In the case of my oldest, she has already set up her own Flickr Pro account to house all her photos.

I can see it coming as a bit of a shock down the road though, so should probably get started planning now.

“Congratulations on your new place, son! Here’s your 17 terabytes of ‘crap’ – find somewhere to store it! Mom and I will be in our cabin in the woods if you need anything.”

Also, get your lazy ass up and turn the lights on and off.

The Rise of ‘Sharenting’

Interesting article from The Atlantic, “When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online”, about parents who share their kids’ lives and images online – now referred to as ‘sharenting’. Back when I still had social media accounts, I didn’t share much about my kids – or photos of them – more out of fear of the pervs/stalkers out there or their peers potentially trying to mess with them. I’m embarrassed to say it never occurred to me to think how my kids themselves might feel about it. I do have a ton of photos of them on my Flickr account, but they are for the most part limited so only family members can see them and they are not available via search.

“For several months, Cara has been working up the courage to approach her mom about what she saw on Instagram. Not long ago, the 11-year-old—who, like all the other kids in this story, is referred to by a pseudonym—discovered that her mom had been posting photos of her, without prior approval, for much of her life. “I’ve wanted to bring it up. It’s weird seeing myself up there, and sometimes there’s pics I don’t like of myself,” she said.”

“Once kids have that first moment of realization that their lives are public, there’s no going back. Several teens and tweens told me this was the impetus for wanting to get their own social-media profiles, in an effort to take control of their image. But plenty of other kids become overwhelmed and retreat. Ellen said that anytime someone has a phone out around her now, she’s nervous that her photo could be taken and posted somewhere. “Everyone’s always watching, and nothing is ever forgotten. It’s never gone,” she said.”

“…92 percent of toddlers under the age of 2 already have their own unique digital identity. “Parents now shape their children’s digital identity long before these young people open their first email. The disclosures parents make online are sure to follow their children into adulthood,” declares a report by the University of Florida Levin College of Law. “These parents act as both gatekeepers of their children’s personal information and as narrators of their children’s personal stories.”

I feel fortunate now that, rather inadvertently, I’ve managed to leave it up to my kids what eventually makes it online about them, especially considering my own back and forth with social media and the Internet. It took me several years and the wisdom and experience of an adult to finally sort out what sort of ‘presence’ I wanted online – I can only imagine that process being intimidating or incomprehensible to my kids – a feeling that would only be exacerbated if I’d already shared copious information about them.

Enough Pictures of Bikes Leaning Against Things

I’ve taken probably literally hundreds of them. We all have. After awhile you struggle to come up with new ways to be creative. Bikes laying down. Bikes propped up with sticks. Propped up with helmets under the pedals. Done ‘em all.

At some point I started trying to get myself in shots more. 90% of the time either because I’m a loner or because I’m riding in weather conditions that others find ridiculous to ride a bike in, I find myself riding alone. It seemed to me that getting a person in the shot was the key to creating something infinitely more interesting. Experimenting with point-and-shoot cameras and timers was mildly entertaining.

  1. Set up camera on a tripod/Gorilla pod/top of a rock/fencepost.
  2. Center bike in the shot within sprinting distance.
  3. Hit the shutter.
  4. Run.

Most cameras max out at a 10 to 15 second timer. That’s not a lot of time. You get some decent shots, but you also end up with a lot of pictures of you running to your bike. Or in the process of climbing onto it. Rarely do you actually look like you’re riding.

iPhones are great, and there are apps that give you the benefit of extending the timer, in some cases up to a minute or more. But you still have to get on the bike and ride it, and then, are you still in the frame? Are you at the point you wanted to be at for the photo? Additionally I’ve struggled with getting iPhones to accurately capture scenes, particularly weirdly lit ones. Below are some examples of the same setup I shot with a bunch of different presets/and or ‘slider jockeying’ on the iPhone. Though some are nice, none of ‘em are completely capture the details and lighting that were there like I saw it. Some post-processing might help, but I find more often than not that once you start down that road, things just start looking weird, or forced.

Recently I stumbled on the Instagram and Flickr of Marc McShane who has been taking some great ‘selfies’ – for lack of a better word – of himself and the bike. I hate the word ‘selfie’ as it seems to imply an arms-length shot of someone ducklipping at the camera. These are self-portraits in the traditional, artistic sense. Marc’s shots impressed me because they’re art. They are stunning.

I knew he was triggering the camera remotely somehow probably vs. using a timer but I didn’t know how. There’s some gadgets that let you trigger an iPhone remotely, but they are usually bluetooth or infrared and therefore pretty limited in distance. You’re only going to get maybe 10 feet from the camera. After asking him, Marc told me his secret – hope he’s not pissed I’m revealing it here – he uses a radio transmitter flash remote. Says he’s triggered from up to 100 yards away. He commented that you can get iPhone apps that will trigger a DSLR from aways, but as he says, “then you just end up with pictures of you holding your phone.” The radio transmitter is small and easily hidden or mounted to a handlebar even.

When I was in middle school, my parents gifted me a SLR camera for my birthday. I took tons of pictures with it, through high school and even took a high school photography class and developed my own film. In a classic case of youthful indiscretion, at some point I sold it – probably for something that at the time seemed very worthwhile (beer money), but in hindsight was just stupid. Wouldn’t be the last time.

So now I’ve begun the search for a new tool to update my selfie game. I’ve started looking at used DSLRS – a mind bogglingly deep pool of various brands, years/models/makes and features. Asking photographers what they shoot with is akin to speaking to someone about religion or politics. Brands of camera are a highly polarizing topic amongst shutter geeks. It’s been suggested I check out the smaller 4/3 cameras – which somewhat appeal to me, as the bulk of carrying a full blown DSLR on a bike is not appealing, yet the 4/3 cameras still have the option of interchangeable lenses. Marc also mentioned cameras like the Canon G16 which, though really technically still a point-and-shoot, have better zoom options, more features, and the all important flash shoe, which is required for a radio transmitter.

So the quest begins. Hoping to generate more photos of a person on bikes in the future vs. just some of them leaning against things.


So it’s that time of year again. The time of year when I get tired of Social Media.

I don’t know why I get tired of it, or what I get tired of. At some point I just start to find it exhausting. People like my wife always just tells me to lay off some, but for some reason, I seem to be an all in or all out kind of guy, but you probably knew that.

There’s the pending launch of the iPhone 5, which I have no desire to hear people talk about indefinitely. Some of my Facebook friends are complaining that people are posting rather graphic images of child or animal abuse in an attempt to shock people into action or advocacy – a ploy I find all most as heinous as the crimes themselves. I’ve no friends doing this – yet. But I’d rather not deal with it right now. Most of my Facebook friends that aren’t doing that are complaining about Facebook changing, and that, well, that’s just stupid and makes me want to hit myself on the head with a hammer.

Google+ is the elite treehouse of my tech geek friends, and even though open to the public now so you no longer need to know the secret handshake, not a single one of my complaining Facebook friends seems to have considered jumping ship, probably just because of the ever-present human nature fear of change. The status quo sucks, but it’s much safer to sit and complain about it than venture into the unknown. Hence my Google+ feed seems to be predominately tech stories and comics that are over my head. It’s like being the only non-engineer at an all-engineer cocktail party.

I vacillate between wanting all Social Media all the time, to wanting none of it and while I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing me gripe about it, the very nature of Social Media is that I get to sit and gripe about it and if you’re ‘hooked in’ to me, you get to hear it.

Maybe I’m just tired of hearing other people’s material. Good or bad, happy or sad. My headspace, both virtual and real is full. So I’m checkin’ out for a bit to clear the baffles.

Takin’ a month off everything but email and this blog. I’ll probably throw the occasional photo up on flickr too. I’m hoping that may induce me to actually write more here, but I won’t be the least bit surprised if it doesn’t. A month may seem kinda arbitrary to some of you, especially since some of you probably only check in once a month, but to a hard-core junkie like me, a month is a long time. Plus when the idea popped into my head this morning, it just sounded good.

So yeah. Offtober.

See ya in Onvember.