LiftAsia08: an Dubno knows a cool gadget when he sees one; Sarah Marquis has walked across the Australian desert solo; Philippa Martin-King talks about energy
(Running notes from LiftAsia08, in Jeju, Korea. I’m moderating this session, so only partial blogging.)
Dan Dubno — technologist, broadcaster, producer, conference host (the invitation-only Gadgetoff), blogger (Gizmorama), pioneer in the use of graphic and visualization tools on television, and more — is Mr Gadget. He is the opening speaker of the sustainable development session which, sponsored by WattWatt, is becoming a permanent feature of the Lift conferences. So Dan talks also about (and shows) “green” gadgets — although, he says, clearly no gadget is really sustainable.
Among the things he shows: Brunton solar displays, Solio solar charger (“Much of these things are not totally efficient, but they are symbols for what’s possible”), the Kill-a-watt to monitor energy consumption, the Lightcap solar-power bottle, the Steripen to purify water, a GPS cell phone for kids, the Clocky alarm clock for kids, a cell phone signal jammer, the TV-be-Gone that turns off all the remote-controlled TVs within range (imagine doing that in a sports bar in the middle of the action), a USB microscope, the bluetooth sunglasses by Oakley, the Pleo animated dinosaur (image right), a handheld infrared camera, and the Celestron SkyScout telescope, a handheld device that uses GPS to point you to stars — or to tell you what star you’re looking at. “The only one you really need to get”, Dan told me.
Philippa Martin-King is one of the people behind WattWatt, a community devoted to discussing and promoting energy efficiency, backed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and which features the competition for schoolchildren Care4it. Energy efficienty is the topic of her talk. Running notes: Korea is the seventh biggest consumer of energy in the world (after US, China, Japan, Germany, Russia and India). How do we waste electricity? Stand-by devices, lighting, air conditioning, refrigerators, lights on at home and at work, air-conditioning, refrigerators, etc. Almost 4% of energy in Switzeralnd is produced through burning waste. (BG: this surprises me, it’s a rather high number).
Swiss adventurer Sarah Marquis has traveled the world by foot. Europe. Latin America. Australia. She’s been walking, solo, for 17 years now, alternating one or two years of travelling and one or two of preparing for the next one, telling her story, and finding sponsors. She crossed Australia (the subject of her first book), traversed Latin America, went fom Mexico to Canada. Her talk is about reconnecting with nature and how to be autonomous when, say, walking across the Australian desert or the Cordillera Andina alone for weeks — including, because of the many techies in the audience, how to travel in energetic independence. The picture behind her shows a flower in the Australian desert:
Running notes: My trip from Alice Springs to Alice Springs via a tour of Australia took me 17 months for 14’000 km. You cannot carry water and food for that much food, so you have to find it there, catch your own food (lizards, etc). You must be open, but you also need to be a bit hungry, and when you’re really hungry you realize that you can do things, because you’re ready for something else, for making a further step, even if you don’t know what happens there. A journey in the bush starts with nature. After 4 months I get to a stage where I need to change my gear, I need to shower, to eat. So my brother came to meet me at a checkpoint. Why am I going alone? Because that journey is about understanding. When you are in those desert areas, where there is nothing, you learn step by step about yourself, about life, after one month I don’t think the same thing than after two months. You can learn tricks before leaving (wrap a tree branch with a plastic bag, and harvest the condensed water; etc) or by observing the way animals do it. I started when I was 17, I did 30’000 km since, but it’s not really about distance and performance: it’s about what happens there — hunting with the Aboriginals, for example. There is no real reason for walking — but no reason for not walking, either. I carry camera, videocamera, GPS, flexible solar panels, I need technology. When you get to the end of a multiple-months 7000-km trip, after all the energy that you’ve put into it, you don’t really want to get there. Next plan: from South Siberia walking across Mongolia, China, the Himalaya range, Nepal, India, Birmania, Malesia, Indonesia, and then back to Australia. I have one year to get ready. (BG: and she’s looking for sponsors).