This may be a tiny bit off-topic but I thought this was pretty interesting.
Tapping Social Media’s Potential
To Muster a Vast Green Army
A rapidly expanding universe of citizens’ groups, researchers, and environmental organizations are making use of social media and smart phone applications to document changes in the natural world and to mobilize support for taking action.
by Caroline Fraser
Here’s the link.
My only tiny concern is that
Perhaps the most intriguing capability of social media involves something that goes deeper than data. The University of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Game is an interactive computer simulation with the power to change minds. Beginning in 2000, it plays out over a 20-year horizon, allowing teams to take on the roles and responsibilities of oystermen, crabbers, crop and dairy farmers, real-estate developers, and policy-makers, everyone with an impact on one of the world’s most endangered watersheds. As teams make decisions based on economic and regulatory restrictions, determining how much land to cultivate or how many crabs to trap, they watch the real-time, long-term consequences of their choices playing out. Crucially, “the game is politically neutral,” says David E. Smith, professor in U. Va.’s Department of Environmental Sciences.
On Earth Day this year, teams from seven Chesapeake Bay-area universities played, each representing a major basin — York River, James River, the Eastern Shore, etc. It was a sobering experience. At the end, a College of William and Mary biology professor acknowledged that despite players’ best efforts, “the quality of the bay went down.”
The game is impressively accurate: Its recent iteration encompasses tens of thousands of data points, and IBM has selected it for the World Community Grid program, harnessing over a million volunteers’ computers to crunch numbers. Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the oceanographer, is partnering with the university to adapt it for other ecosystems, from Australia to Arizona. He foresees a day when younger students can input real data to model their backyards and lobby their parents — “Hey, mom and dad, let’s not use fertilizer on the lawn.”
Perhaps people start to believe the reality of models and don’t have the proper respect for the universe to be “queerer than we think, queerer than we can think” as Haldane said.
Meanwhile, the environment waits for a software wunderkind to find the social formula that may lure a fickle public to fall in love with the real world, not a fake one.
To me a modeled world is still a fake world..and plenty of people are in love with the real world- but we disagree on what to do about it. And that’s OK.
Full disclosure: I am a graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the publisher of “Yale 360″.