Blog archive June 2021
Because the internet has one of the biggest carbon footprints on the planet.
“I think whether it’s a heavy or energy-hungry website full of videos hosted in a traditional way, or a website built sustainably, which is super lightweight and hosted on servers that are powered by renewables, it takes up the same real estate on your screen, so you don’t really think about what that implies. It’s kind of mystical and magical for the end user; when you look at digital or the cloud, you don’t really think that there is a physicality to it because you can’t see your consumption.”
Sandrine Herbert Razafinjato method.com
which you can sign up to, and a set of detailed strategies for your projects under headings:
- Client & Project Ethos
- Content & Marketing
- Business Operations
One of the key things in cutting the digital carbon footprint is to choose a green web hosting company, but you should also work on the energy efficiency of your website, because every interaction from server calls to font loading consumes electricity somehow, somewhere. Custom fonts, images and video seem to be the prime villains here. You may not be Amazon or ebay, but it all adds up.
And you can check the results at ecograder.com for a breakdown of how green your site is overall under seven headings, or check the carbon footprint of your site at websitecarbon.com (this seems to generate some odd results because it's not immediately clear what the criteria are or what the issue is).
I wonder what the carbon footprint of this blog post is, given the number of web pages visited.
On a dull day in autumn 1991 I took some photos of the City from Tower Bridge, and then went to the Isle of Dogs to look at the start of Canary Wharf. Last week I took photos from the same places 30 years on. Not quite the anniversary but the weather was irresistible.
London in 1991 was in recession after the short-lived 80s boom. It was still a rather sad and tatty place (though that might have been the weather). London 2021 is glutted with (very unevenly distributed) wealth and even the pandemic could not stop the towers rising.
Following through on Daniel’s rabbit trail, it seems that there is a microtrend of social media and megaplatform sceptics returning to (or more consciously continuing) their personal sites and blogs. I thought I was just futzing about aimlessly ;-) with my site design and iterated ideas, but it's actually called digital gardening.
The Six Patterns of Gardening from Maggie Appleton:
1. Topography over Timelines
Gardens are organised around contextual relationships and associative links; the concepts and themes within each note determine how it's connected to others. [check]
2. Continuous Growth
Gardens are never finished, they're constantly growing, evolving, and changing. [check]
3. Imperfection & Learning in Public
Gardens are imperfect by design. They don't hide their rough edges or claim to be a permanent source of truth. [check]
4. Playful, Personal, and Experimental
The point of a garden is that it's a personal playspace. You organise the garden around the ideas and mediums that match your way of thinking, rather than off someone else's standardised template. [check]
5. Intercropping & Content Diversity
Gardens are not just a collection of interlinked words. While linear writing is an incredible medium that has served us well for a little over 5000 years, it is daft to pretend working in a single medium is a sufficient way to explore complex ideas. [check]
6. Independent Ownership
Gardening is about claiming a small patch of the web for yourself, one you fully own and control. This patch should not live on the servers of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram (aka. also Facebook), or Medium... If any of those services go under, your writing and creations sink with it. [check]
See also Mike Caulfield's essay 'The Garden and the Stream', which appears to have originated the current use of the term. He pins my dissatisfaction with the 'stream' convention which I first felt in 2006 when starting on Flickr, and finding that I couldn't add old photos 'upstream' without disrupting my current feed. I didn't think a photo collection should be organised that way.
We each have our obstacles and circumstances, but try not to think in terms of “there’s not enough time,” because your site, whether an archive for personal thought or more of a visual/code sandbox, is a gentle, ongoing investment. You tend your domain like you steadily improve your home, and it can take years of false starts and incremental commits. Don’t think of it as urgent work, or — heaven forbid — a “side-hustle”.
So now I feel fully validated for sticking with my own self-made, self-owned spaces over twenty years.
I’m not sure how widespread or impactful this trend is [I hope it's a revolution], but at least I feel less alone and ridiculous :-)
Oh, and I'm blogging again, I suppose.
Last Friday 28th May was my final day at my job of 14.5 years. Somehow it’s taken a week to get around to noting that here, due to all the admin that goes with such a thing - contacts to be transferred, software to be removed and installed, persons to be notified, etc. Plus all the other things in life.
I resigned in order to break a downward spiral of overwork and declining health that had developed since 2016. I had been taking a month or more off each year to recover but it needed something more. The pandemic added its own issues that many of us have noted - long working hours, loss of boundaries, lack of exercise, Zoom fatigue, loss of the support and efficiencies that come from being in the same space as co-workers.
At this point the intention is to take six months off before I look for work - if my finances and my nerve hold. If work comes looking for me, it will be asked to wait a while. I’ve used the metaphor of a clearing - the soil of a forest is full of dormant seeds, but nothing grows until a clearing is made. Then the sun and the rain fall on the soil, and what is dormant emerges. This is a time to see what emerges. I don’t particularly intend to leave my profession or specialisms, but there are aspects of both that could not flourish in the narrow-focus grind of difficult projects.
I have mixed feelings about leaving. I'm moved by the nice things that have been said to me. I will miss the everyday reality of the office, my co-workers and friends. To soften the blow I'm reconnecting with many of them, to still plug into the social life and chit-chat. It's easier to stay connected now than it was last time I left a job in 2006. This is not unknown at TP Bennett, there are quite a few ex-employees who maintain connections and sometimes return to work there (my replacement is one such). TP Bennett actually started an 'alumni' group that had its first get-together in late 2019 - and was then paused. Maybe I'll be part of that.
The general reaction has been that I am doing the right thing - it's a little scary, but it feels like a hopeful act. So I let go of my fears and take my rest.