söndag 14 augusti 2016

Books I've read (mid-nov - mid-Dec)

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Both books below are about social media and I read them not because I chose to but because I had to. They constituted the course literature in a course about social media that I unwillingly had to teach due to an acute "crisis" (something unexpected happened and we are understaffed... permanently, it seems). Here's the previous blog post about books I have read. The asterisks represent the number of quotes from the each book (see further below).



**** "Networked: The new social operating system" (2012) is written by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman but despite being only three years old (when I read it last year) it already feels aged and past its peak (the students in question agreed). Also, I have for the longest of time had huge problems with sociologist Wellman's ideas about community (or "community") in the age of suburbs and community in the age of the Internet (in fact ever since I wrote my ph.d. thesis two decades ago). His ideas about community seem to be that community is whatever way we meet with relatives, friends and neighbours. If we meet seldom and most often by phone or the Internet, well then that is what community is like in the 21st century and it doesn't matter that that is a total reversal of what community has always been before modernity, urbanisation and other developments during the 20th century reshaped how we live, work, pray, socialise (etc.).

The book has some not-too-exciting statistics (from 2011 and earlier) and two "big ideas" (≠ praise); "networked individualism" and "the triple revolution". It also has an underlying rah-rah (unproblematic and unproblematizing) attitude about the benefits of the Internet. I could write (much) more about the book and almost all of it would be critical (did I mention that it was boring?) and therefore I won't. To sum it up, I didn't feel the book had a lot of depth or that it contained any particularly exciting (new) ideas. If it was up to me, this book would definitely not be used as course literature in our course any longer. From the back cover:

"Our perpetual connectedness gives us endless opportunities to be part of the give-and-take of networking. Some worry that this new environment makes us isolated and lonely. But in "Networked", Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman show how the large, loosely knit social circles of networked individuals expand opportunities for learning, problem solving, decision making, and personal interaction. The new social operating system of "networked individualism" liberates us from the restrictions of tightly knit groups; it also requires us to develop networking skills and strategies, work on maintaining ties, and balance multiple overlapping networks. Rainie and Wellman outline the "triple revolution" that has brought on this transformation: the rise of social networking, the capacity of the Internet to empower individuals, and the always-on connectivity of mobile devices."



********* I habitually think of "Spreadable media: Creating value and meaning in a networked culture" (2013, http://spreadablemedia.org) as being written by (only) Henry Jenkins (Wikipediapersonal blog) while he in fact also has two co-authors, Sam Ford and Joshua Green. This book about social media is definitely more interesting than Rainie and Wellman's (above) and I kind of think of it as the next instalment after Jenkins previous book "Convergence Culture: Where old and new media collide" (2006). The previous book is naturally somehow aged by now (but we used in our education for several years). I still think "Convergence culture" was a better book (when it came) than "Spreadable media" is, since it felt more focused and "tight" than the latter. Still, it's not bad. I especially like the ear-to-the-ground analysis of concrete events that many of us are familiar with but haven't thought as deeply about as Jenkins et. al. have. One example is the thoughtful analysis of the ugly duckling story of Susan Boyle and her unexpected breakthrough on "Britain's Got Talent". You have all probably seen the audition (currently 196+ million views) where her incredible voice trumps her decidedly humdrum frumpy-housewife look.

Where Rainie & Wellman talk about "networked individualism", Jenkins et. al. instead talk about "networked culture". Even though Rainie and Wellman's individualism is "networked", the perspective is still decidedly individualistic and focuses on how the Internet ("the triple revolution", "the new social operating system" etc.) empowers the individual. The perspective of Jenkins et. al. instead focuses on groups, on cultures, on information and on emerging phenomena which just happens to be the more fruitful and interesting perspective. From the back cover of the book:

"Spreadable media maps fundamental changes taking place in our contemporary media environment, a space where corporations no longer tightly control media distribution and many of us are directly involved in the circulation of content. It contrasts "stickiness" - aggregating attention in centralized places - with "spreadability" - dispersing content widely through both formal and informal networks, some approved, many unauthorized. ... Spreadable media argues that if it doesn't spread, it's dead. Challenging the prevailing frameworks used to describe contemporary media, from biological metaphors like "memes" and "viral" to the concept of "Web 2.0" ... the book examines the nature of audience engagement, the way appraisal creates value, and the transnational flows at the heart of these phenomena."



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 ----- On the Internet (and social media) as a liberating force in society ----- 
"we wonder about the folks who keep moaning that the internet is killing society. They sound just like those who worried generations ago that TV or automobiles would kill sociability, or sixteenth-century fears that the printing press would lead to information overload. While oy vey-ism - crying "the sky is falling," makes for good headlines - it isn't true. The evidence in our work is that none of these technologies are isolated - or isolating - systems. ... People are not hooked on gadgets - they are hooked on each other. ... In the world of networked individuals, it is the person who is the focus: not the family, not the work unit, not the neighbourhood, and not the social group."
Rainie, H., & Wellman, B. (2012). Networked, p.6


 ----- We have absolutely nothing to fear from "the Internet" ----- 
"some analysts fear that people's lesser involvement in local community organizations - such as church groups and bowling leagues - means that we live in a socially diminished world where trust is lower, societal cohesion is reduced, loneliness is widespread, and people's collective capacity to help one another is at risk. While such fears go back at least one hundred fifty years, the coming of the internet has increased them and added new issues: Are people huddling alone in front of their screens? If they are connecting with someone online, is it a vague simulacrum of real community with people they could have seen, smelled, heard, and touched in the "good old days"? The evidence suggests that those with such fears have been looking at the new world through ta cloudy lens."
Rainie, H., & Wellman, B. (2012). Networked, p.8


 ----- On the Social Network, Internet, and Mobile Revolutions ----- 
"the Social Network, Internet, and Mobile Revolutions are coming together to shift people's social lives away from densely knit family, neighborhood, and group relationships toward more far-flung, less tight, more diverse personal networks. ... First, the Social Network Revolution has provided the opportunities - and stresses - for people to reach beyond the world of tight groups. ... Second, the Internet Revolution has given people communications power and information-gathering capacities that dwarf those of the past. ... Third, the Mobile Revolution has allowed ICTs to become body appendages allowing people to access friends and information at will, wherever they go."
Rainie, H., & Wellman, B. (2012). Networked, p.11-12


 ----- On physically being there but mentally being elsewhere ----- 
"One caution is that intensive ICT use means that people can be physically in one place while their social attention and communication focus is elsewhere - a state that social psychologist Kenneth Gergen calls "absent presence." This can create awkward, annoying social discontinuities as people "leave" the group they are physically a part of to take a call or respond to a text message from someone afar. "Distracted driving" has become a policy concern, with states and provinces are outlawing holding a mobile phone while driving."
Rainie, H., & Wellman, B. (2012). Networked, p.102




 ----- On media piracy ----- 
"we are reserving the term "pirate" in this book for people who profit economically from the authorized sale of content produced by others. ... piracy is as much a consequence of the market failure of media companies to make content available in a timely and desirable manner as it is a consequence of the moral failure of audience members seeking meaningful content by hook or by crook if it is not legally available. ... the appropriation and recirculation of even entire works may sometimes work in the best interest of not only the culture at large but also of the rights holders."
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media, p.16


 ----- On the tension between YouTube (or Facebook) as a sharing platform and as a business model ----- 
"many corporate practice effectively erode the line between "collective (non-market, public) and commercial (market, private) modes of production." Such efforts "cleverly combine capital-intensive, profit-oriented industrial production with labor-intensive, non-profit-oriented peer production" ... various struggles to negotiate between YouTube as a platform for sharing and YouTube as a business model - which have taken place since the plattform's genesis - encapsulate the tension that run throughout the Web 2.0 model."
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media, p.51-52


 ----- On commodity vs gift cultures ----- 
"A "barn raising" might be considered a classic example of the social exchange of labor. In this nineteenth-century social ritual, established members of a community gathered to welcome newcomers and help them establish a homestead. ... Insert commercial logic into any aspect of a barn raising, and we alter the meaning ... creating discomfort for participants. Suppose the newcomers refused to join in on the work, seeing their neighbors' labor as an entitlement for purchasing land in the area. ... Suppose they sold outside economic interest the rights to sell snacks and drinks to those who were laboring or sold information about their neighbors which would give these outside interests advantages in future economic exchanges. Or suppose they were to seek to use their neighbors' labor to complete other tasks around their property... As absurd as such exploitative arrangements seem in the context of a barn raising, they are taken for granted in the Web 2.0 model, as companies generate revenue through monetizing the attention created by user-generated content."
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media, p.63-64


 ----- On fractured organisations behind the unified corporate brand ----- 
"Often, the marketing functions of a company have little, if any, connections to IT, legal, or customer service. Each of these divisisions reports to a different part of corporate leadership and resides on a different campus; their leaders may only be vague acquaintances. To the customer, all these touchpoints constitute "one brand." Yet, internally, this fractured communications represents contradictory logics and competing measures of success with little internal alignment or collaboration. For instance, while marketing departments are charged and measured by how many ways the can "engage" the customer ... customer service departments are often measured by how quickly they can disengage with the customer, by metrics of efficiency (how many calls can be answered in an hour, for example).
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media, p.179


 ----- On appropriate technologies ----- 
"Hybrid systems of communications, especially those between higher- and lower-tech media, bridge literacy gaps i immigrant communities. To cite a historical example, Jewish immigrants working in sweatshops in New York at the turn of the twentieth century would hire someone to read books, newspapers, and magazines aloud to them while they worked. ... There is a strong tradition in policy literature about the developing world of talking about "appropriate technologies" - that is, technologies which accommodate the skills and needs of local populations, are sustainable, respect their environments, and take full advantage of the affordances of often limited technical infrastructures and resources."
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media, p.191


 ----- On particaptory culture as consumption vs cultural production/circulation ----- 
"Facebook and other social network sites often operate as the digital equivalent of gated communities, protecting participants from online contact with people outside their social circle as much as enabling easier and quicker communications with their friends and families. ... If, like som skeptics, we see participatory culture as "consumptive behavior by a different name," then we should ... see the digital divide as no more consequential than the gap in who owns fancy cars. If we see participatory culture, though, as a vital step toward the realization of a century-long struggle for grassroots communities to gain greater control over the means of cultural production and circulation - if we see participation as the work of publics and not simply of markets and audiences - then opportunities to expand participation are struggle we must actively embrace through our work, whether through efforts to lover economic and technical obstacles or to expand access to media literacies."
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media, p.192-193


 ----- On particaptory culture as consumption vs cultural production/circulation ----- 
"Traditional branding theory has valued controlling meaning rather than inspiring circulation. Some longtime Madison Avenue types are likely to sputter in rage at the idea that audiences might appropriate and rework their messages ... They worry about losing control when, in fact, they never had it. As this book has detailed, today's spreading behaviors reflect much older patterns in how people have received and discussed media texts. Only now, people's exchanges are much more visible, occurring at a greater scale and frequency as a greater portion of society taps into the online world. ... Perhaps the only way to retain complete control over the meaning of a text is never to share it with anyone. 
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media, p.201-202


 ----- On the pros and cons of media/online piracy ----- 
"Pirates' ruthless mercantilism, include a willingness to sell anything to anyone whether or not they have the legal right to do so, makes them as much advocates of capitalism as resisters of its regulatory regimes. As the Nollywood [Nigerian film industry] example suggests, pirate culture may ultimately be the founation on which legal industries and institutions are formed, allowing poorer countries a chance to gain ground without having to bear the full costs of investment in production."
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media, p.268-269


 ----- On the Internet creating connections *and* disconnections ----- 
"In some ways, it may [be] easier for the digital elites in, say, India, Japan, Nigeria, Brazil, Iran, and the United States to communicate with each other than it is for them to communicate with lower-income, rural, or less-educated residents of their own countries - in part because access to networked computers carries with it so many other implications about economic level, educational background, cultural cosmopolitanism, travel, and trade which separate "the digerati" from their fellow countryfolk."
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media, p.287
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onsdag 10 augusti 2016

On writing (academic papers)

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My last two blog posts have been about the texts I have worked on during the first half of this year and I have definitely upped the game compared to, well, forever. This blog post constitutes another take on writing but this time in the form of a reflection on writing in general and on my writing in particular. This text also ties back to a question I got on Facebook in relation to the previous two blog posts: "What's your magic trick for being so productive?".

Well, a first take on answering that question is that I haven't always been. I was reminded of that when I was the opponent at Per Fors' licentiate seminar before the summer. His way of writing reminded me of mine way back when I was a ph.d. student (as well as later). The "culprit" in my case (and perhaps in Per's) was excessive freedom from any constraints. This had in Per's case resulted in four articles about wildly different topics and with very little overlap (World Systems Theory, gamification, eco-ethics, entrepreneurship). I was perhaps not that wild but I recognise the pattern and the result is the same - "opening new doors" = having to read up on a new corpus for each new article you want to write. The alternative is leveraging what you already have and aiming for "pursuing the next step" (i.e. breadth vs depth). I would have wanted someone to have told me this when I was a ph.d. student because that would have saved me a lot of time (and some anguish). Not all doors are worth opening compared to returning to an already-opened door.

One example of a new door I opened happened only six or seven years ago and it is unfortunately and in retrospect a perfect example of wasted time. I happened to stumble upon this really interesting Chinese student who had been in Sweden for half a year while writing up his master's thesis about Internet censorship in China (my colleague and next door neighbour Leif Dahlberg had been his Swedish advisor/support person). I guess most people aren't aware of the fact that the Chinese state forces Internet Service Providers to hire personnel to police and censor their own Internet fora (discussion groups etc.).

This Chinese student had studied the actual censors and had interviewed them about their jobs, about their lives and about their opinions in regards to Internet content and the censorship they themselves performed on a daily basis. Most censors were recent university graduates and many had originally had high hopes for being able to "reform the Internt from within" and "raise the bar" (e.g. create more rather than less space for discussions). That didn't happen though and some had become disillusioned or even depressed. They worked and lived in dorm-like set-ups and did nothing but scan Internet discussions all day long and give each discussion a "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down" (censor, pull off the Internet). The master's student was particularly interested in the censors' self image and things like that and I do believe his thesis topic was unique. Even the hackneyed google-translated version I read had parts that were fascinating, even riveting, as were the implications.

We decided to team up and find an angle from which to write an English-language academic article together. I was super-ambitious and printed a couple of hundred of pages of texts/articles about the Internet in China and about Internet censorship in China and elsewhere, but, it became too much and nothing came out of it in the end (but I could perhaps be convinced to write a full blog post about it at some point). The whole project just demanded too much time - too much time to sink into a single article (no matter how interesting the subject matter was). That's the risk you take when you stray too far away from subject matters you have already worked on and are on top of; the cost-benefit ratio can turn sour (cost = immense amounts of time, benefit = one single article).

I nowadays try to stay away from blunders like that and the blunder in question was to do something radically different, something with little or no overlap with what I had already done before and that demanded me to become an expert on something I hardly knew anything at all about beforehand. Or rather, I would approach the whole thing differently today and my first priority would be to try to identify a third person to cooperate with and who could help make the article happen. Who do I know, or, who could I get to know that knows about and have written about these (or related) topics? I don't have to be the first (or the second) author, the important thing is rather to make sure it happen (instead of wasting time on running down blind alleys). For each writing project, each person involved should bring something to the table and we should in hindsight have invited a third person to the Internet censorship table. Since it's my great fortune to be good at the craft of structuring and crafting texts, I can more or less always bring something to the table. Writing a blog is also a great way to practice your ability to write... everybody should have one... :-)

When I was a ph.d. student I wrote almost everything by myself. That has changed totally since and I find that cooperating with others is generally a good idea. I of course realise that the chances of being able to team up with others are much better if you are a professor compared to being a ph.d. student. 1) You just have better networks and 2) a better feeling for what ideas or empirical material is exciting or "good enough" to turn into a paper. You also 3) have a much better feeling for how long it takes to write a paper and are of course also 4) better at the actual craft of writing academic papers. Since you 5) know more and have read more, you are also more versatile and better at covering (or covering up) various rather just a few academic areas and 6) on taking on various roles in a writing project. Finally you are 7) of course also much more familiar with your own strengths and weaknesses and that is in itself a strength.


Here I will shift to discuss my collaboration with Elina Eriksson since I have written numerous texts together with her by now. As I wrote in the previous blog post, we have together worked on no less than 10 texts during the spring term and we most often together take on the roles of first-and-second-author when we write texts together with others. A particularly dicy period for us happened in mid-May when we managed to submit no less than four articles to two different conferences in less than a week. We submitted two articles to the 8th conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD 2016) on May 15 and then submitted two more full articles to the 9th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI’16) on May 19. The fact that the two latter articles were later rejected does not distract from the feat of managing to submit them both only four days after the previous deadline.

These four papers had three, five, five and fifteen co-authors respectively and me and Elina were the first-and-second authors of three of the papers and the first-and-third authors of the last paper. There was furthermore no overlap at all between the 20 co-authors we cooperated with (e.g. each person we collaborated with was a co-author on only one of these four papers). For these four papers, me and Elina were thus "the spiders in the web", pulling people together and in general just making things happen. So what's the secret sauce? There just has to be processes and habits in place to make it all happen, right? Right.

I'm not sure exactly how many "writing projects" me and Elina have cooperated on by now. Taking into account conference papers, workshop proposals, position papers and research grant applications, I estimate that we have worked on at least 20 or 25 during the last few years (as well as many other projects for example concerning teaching) and we have a process in place that is both flexible and structured and that helps us get things out of the door.

It usually starts with a shared Google document. The next step is a meta-text in the form of a list with different nested levels: "We should first do this. This consists of three things of which the first is..." Kind of like the outline of a computer program now that I come to think of it. Here's an example from a text we are working on right now:



Other things we discuss early and recurrently in the writing process is: Who is going to be the first author (will take ultimate responsibility for the writing project)? What's the core/the basic point we want to get across? Which different parts does the project (text) consist of? Do they fit together? Do they work towards the point we are trying to make with this paper? How long should each part be? Who will take responsibility for the different parts (or for having the first pass at the different parts)? Do the transitions between the different parts in the text work? What should we start working on right now and what can wait until later? When will we meet next? What should have been done by then?

While there are many parts to writing a text as well as different roles (from generating ideas to correcting spelling mistakes and working with the formatting of the paper), me and Elina can each cover several of these roles but we also have specific complementary abilities and skills. I'm more crippled by a blank sheet of paper (harbouring endless possibilities - but which should I choose and where should I start (.o0 feeling anxiety)) while Elina quickly can squeeze out something that sometimes is good and sometimes half-assed.  It has happened more than once that she jots down something I don't quite agree with, thereby forcing me to immediately engage in, clarify and correct her "outrageous" draft. She doesn't necessarily write a great text at the first pass, but it's a start and it gets us going. I am on the other hand better at producing precise and beautifully elaborated formulations that clarify, develop and embellish a sentence or a paragraph. But sometimes I overwork the text and the sentences become too long, awkward or cumbersome by making use of (too many) parentheses or obliquely sprouting obscure references to decades-old popular culture or stories from the bible or whatever. Then Elina swoops in and cleans up or just points out problematic passages or aspects of my overworked messiness. Other functions/roles can be performed by both of us, for example moving a text along from a commented meta-text (see the example above) to a perfectly functional running text.

Since me and Elina have a well-oiled process in place for cranking out texts, it is nowadays easy for us to accept the responsibility (first-and-second authorship) for a new paper or a workshop proposal. We are becoming (or have already become) a high-powered writing duo. While many parts of the process as described above is in place also when I work with others people (for example with my colleague Björn Hedin), it has not matured to the level of my writing partnership with Elina due to the simple fact that mine and Björn's research interests overlap to a lesser extent than mine and Elina's. Also (and therefore), me and Björn just haven't written anywhere near as much together as me and Elina have.


One final reflection is that I have for the longest of times noted that my way of approaching a writing project has changed radically compared to when I was a ph.d. student. Back then I just sat down and started to write. Then I went back and rewrote. Sometimes I wrote similar things in more than one place and I then had to at a late-ish point in time compare, move, edit and reconcile different parts of the text. It happened more than once that I submitted an abstract (paper proposal) that later turned out to be unworkable (too ambitious, too complicated, required me read up on new areas etc.). A lot of work went into writing each text.

Nowadays I instead spend a lot of time planning and thinking and only then progressively start to extend the text according to the plan (going from a sketch to meta-text about what I want to say in this and in that section of the text and then extending it to running text). I nowadays always plan (or at least sketch out) the whole paper before I write an abstract (see for example this and this abstract (paper). I even plan more or less how long the different parts of a text should be before I start to write them. It might sound burdensome but it in fact exactly the opposite - it is liberating! It is much easier to write the "background" or the "methods" part of the paper if you have already decided how many pages you are aiming for compared to having a blank sheet in front of you, pondering at what granularity you should describe your research methods. I have thus switched from writing (for example my ph.d thesis) in a bottom-up manner to nowadays always writing my texts by way of a top-down process. This can at times make it frustrating and difficult for me to work with people who have a more bottom-up-ish way of working. Either we work my way (structured) or their way (in which case I let go and don't contribute as much). Or we don't work together at all and that too works for me.
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torsdag 4 augusti 2016

Follow-up of follow-up (spring 2016)

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My last blog post summarised my academic output in terms of texts that I have been working on during the spring term (Jan-June). This blog post is a (mostly quantitative) analysis of those texts/pieces of output in the form of eight observations. There is one outlier (15 co-authors) that gets special treatment here.

Here's a breakdown of the type of texts I have been working on during the spring:
- 8 conference papers (6 accepted, 2 rejected)
- 6 journal articles (1 published, 2 in press, 1 being in review and 2 special issue article proposals (abstracts) being in review)
- 2 book chapter proposals (both accepted)
- 2 workshop proposals (both accepted)


Observation 1: I haven't written a single text by myself - all the texts have co-authors. Five of the 18 texts have been written by two authors (me and someone else) and another five has three authors. Two texts each have four, five and six authors respectively, one has seven authors and one has 15 authors. The workshop proposals generally have numerous authors (six and seven respectively). I would however say that one of the texts written is based on an earlier (rejected) paper that has been substantially reworked and my two co-authors have not done any work at all this time around so I'm kind of the single authors of that one text.

Observation 2: I'm the first (main) author of nine out of those 18 texts and the second author of another seven texts. I'm author three out of four and four out of four of the last two remaining texts. That means I drive the process - or support the person who drives the process - in almost all of the texts I have had a hand in.

Observation 3: I have worked together with my colleague Elina Eriksson on no less than ten out of those 18 texts. Other regular co-authors are Teresa Cerratto Pargman and Ulrika Gunnarsson Östling (three texts each) as well as Karin Bradley, Adrian Friday, Mattias Höjer, Luciane Aguiar Borges and Josefin Wangel (two texts each). Excluding The Outlier (which has 15 co-authors), I have worked with 21 persons on (only) one paper each and I do believe that no less than 16 of these are persons I have never worked with before.

Observation 4: Of the recurrent co-authors listed above (Elina, Teresa, Ulrika, Karin, Adrian, Mattias, Luciane and Josefin), all but two work at KTH (and one of the non-KTH persons is my wife!). More notable is the fact that all but two of these eight persons are women. Is sustainability a feminized research topic? Is sustainability a women's issue?

Observation 5: Of the no less than 10 texts that I have been working on together with Elina Eriksson, we are together the first and the second authors of eight of these texts (first authorship being evenly split between us). We really do work a lot together and we also work more closely together than ever before. I do think that the fact that we sit in the same corridor as of April is a factor that should not be underestimated. Me and Elina have even started to have weekly 30-minute meetings to coordinate and prioritise among the tasks we work on together (of which only a subset have to do with writing academic papers). I will write a separate blog post about our cooperation with a special emphasis on the writing process soon.

Observation 6Each of the 18 texts I have worked on is about sustainability in one form or another! While topics range from the sharing economy and design fiction to policy modeling and pedagogy, each text also has a clear sustainability angle. That is actually quite amazing - I'm 100% sustainable nowadays!

Observation 7: For the first time ever, two of the texts I have written are not about computing. I can't recall ever ever having written an academic text that is not about computing (virtual communities, computer games, ICT & sustainability etc.) before. This is actually very significant and I wouldn't have imagined that this could happen only a year or two ago.

Observation 8: Both apparent and a blind spot for me (it took some time to realise) is that fact that none of the 18 texts is written in Swedish - my native tongue. That's actually quite amazing when you think about it. I'm a Swede, I live in Sweden, but nothing of what I write professionally is written in anything but English.

That's about it. I can't think of anything more that I can squeeze out of the previous blog post.
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söndag 31 juli 2016

Follow-up (spring 2016)

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Ongoing or long-term projects usually generate follow-up blog posts. A submission to a conference will (if accepted) later generate a blog post about that conference. An ongoing research project will generate a new blog post some three, six or twelve months later. But I mostly write about things as they happen ("snapshots") and some blog posts don't generate follow-up blog posts even when they "should". I have tried to make amends by sometimes summing things up by going back half a year or even a whole year to look for "loose ends" to follow up and tie together. I've done it half a dozen times, but not lately (the last follow-up blog post was written in January 2015).

This spring (January - June) has seen the blog fill up with posts about various academic papers; the name of the game has been a constant and hectic production of academic texts reaching almost-hysterical levels of text production in May and June.

This follow-up blog post will exclusively follow up the various writing projects that I have worked on during the spring term (including two workshop proposals). They together add up to no less than 18 different texts (journal articles, conference papers, book chapters and workshop proposals). I have below organised them in chronological order of when they were (or will be) presented/published), linked back to the original blog posts and have also added helpful color-coding to the titles of the papers as follows:

- Published/presented (100% finished, no work remains to be done)
- Accepted for publication/presentation, 100% finished but has not yet been published (journal articles), presented (conference papers) or held (conference workshops)
Finished, submitted, reviewed but was rejected
- Finished, submitted and currently under review (might be rejected, might be accepted as-is or might need further work)
Submitted and conditionally accepted for publication but currently only exists as an (extended) abstract. The major part of the work remains to be done
Submitted but currently only exists as an (extended) abstract. Acceptance (or rejection) is pending. The major part of the work remains to be done (if accepted)

This is the comprehensive resource to keep up with what I've been writing during the last six months. It's also a great resource for me (when I need to update my CV, for finding links to conferences/special issues of journals or for to have at hand the next time I negotiate my salary with my boss)! Here are the texts:


- The journal article "The Internet at the eco-village: Performing sustainability in the twenty-first century" (Teresa Cerratto Pargman, Daniel Pargman, Bonnie Nardi) was published in the online journal First Monday at the end of May and is available on the Internet. Work on the text started a very long time ago (more than two years ago). I wrote about it on the blog in May. "Is the digital infrastructure and its footprint an ideological blind spot for recently emerging ecological communities, including eco-villages?."

- The conference paper "Limits to the Sharing Economy" (Daniel Pargman, Elina Eriksson, Adrian Friday) was presented at the Second Workshop on Computing within Limits (ACM LIMITS) in June and is published in the conference proceedings. I wrote about it on the blog in May. "In this paper ... we take a critical stance and will elaborate on the intersection between the Sharing Economy and Limits (including pinpointing potential conflicts)."

- The conference paper "Refactoring Society: Systems Complexity in an Age of Limits" (Barath Raghavan, Daniel Pargman) was also presented at the Second Workshop on Computing within Limits (ACM LIMITS) in June and is published in the conference proceedingsI wrote about it on the blog in May. "In this paper we attempt to answer a fundamental question: what is the appropriate response to excessive sociotechnical complexity?."

- The conference paper "Whose future is it anyway?: Limits within Policy Modeling" (Somya Joshi, Teresa Cerratto Pargman, Adreas Gazis, Daniel Pargman) was again presented at the Second Workshop on Computing within Limits (ACM LIMITS) in June and is published in the conference proceedingsI wrote about it on the blog in May. "Between the euphoric techno-utopian rhetoric of the boundless potential of BOLD [Big Open Linked Data] innovations and the dystopian view of the dangers of such innovations (e.g. ubiquitous surveillance etc.), this paper offers a critical understanding of the boundaries that are traversed by the implementation of BOLD within policy modeling.

- The workshop "Computing within Limits: Visions of computing beyond Moore's law" (Elina Eriksson, Daniel Pargman, Lorenz Hilty, Adrian Friday, Chris Preist, Teresa Cerratto Pargman) will be held on Monday August 29 as part of the 4th International Conference on ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S). I wrote about it on the blog in April and then published an invitation in June. The workshop also has a webpage of its own. "What if we will come up against various ecological, material, energetic, and/or societal limits (c.f. “Limits to Growth”, Meadows et. al., 1973) that will also profoundly affect the field of computing in the coming decades?.

- The conference paper "Designing for Sustainability: Breakthrough or suboptimisation?" (Daniel Pargman, Edward Ahlsén, Cecilia Engelbart) will be presented on Tuesday August 30 at the 4th International Conference on ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S). It will be presented again on Wednesday August 31 since it is one of the six nominees for the best paper award. The previous title of the paper was "Next generation screens: Breakthrough or suboptimisation?" and I notice that my last-minute change of title has not (yet) percolated into the conference program. I wrote about it on the blog in April. "This example thus raises important questions about system boundaries and about how to evaluate sustainable (or “sustainable”) technologies.

- The conference paper "Patterns of Engagement: Using a board game as a tool to address sustainability in engineering educations" (Daniel Pargman, Björn Hedin, Elina Eriksson) will be presented at the 8th Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD2016) in September. I wrote about it on the blog in May. "We here describe how we have worked to overcome students’ (potential) aversion to one particular GDEE [Global Dimension in Engineering Education] topic, sustainability, by incorporating a board game, Gasuco, into the introductory module of a course about “Media Technology and Sustainability”."

- The conference paper "Sustainable development for ICT engineering students - “What's in it for me?”" (Elina Eriksson, Daniel Pargman, Anna Björklund, Anna Kramers, Karin Edvardsson Björnberg) will be presented at the 8th Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD2016) in September. I wrote about it on the blog in May. "In this paper we describe and compare our efforts to plan and teach three introductory courses on SD [Sustainable Development] in three different ICT-related educational programmes at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

- The workshop "HCI and UN's Sustainable Development Goals: Responsibilities, Barriers and Opportunities" (Elina Eriksson, Daniel Pargman, Oliver Bates, Maria Normark, Jan Gulliksen, Mikael Anneroth, Johan Berntsson) will be held on Monday October 24 as part of the 9th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI’16). I published an invitation to the workshop on the blog in June. The workshop also has a webpage of its own. "In this workshop we want engage everyone who is interested in working towards a sustainable future in terms of and with the UN SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] as a starting point. How can Sustainable HCI be inspired by, and contribute to these goals?.

- The conference paper "The (Un)sustainability of Imagined Future Information Societies" (Daniel Pargman, Elina Eriksson, Ulrika Gunnarsson Östling, Mattias Höjer, Luciane Aguiar Borges) was submitted to the Future Scenarios track at the 9th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI’16) but was rejected despite getting an "Overall Rating" of 4, e.g. "Borderline, but somewhat closer to 'accept' than 'reject'". I wrote about it on the blog in May. "This paper emanates from the academic field of futures studies and it describes the results of a research project in the intersection of “the future information society” and sustainability, answering questions such as: what could the future information society look like and what would be the impact of that society be in terms of sustainability?.

- The conference paper "On the Design of Design Fiction: Exploring Sustainable Computing through Fictional Abstracts" (Daniel Pargman, Elina Eriksson and 13 additional co-authors of which Eric Baumer was most active) was submitted to the Future Scenarios track at the 9th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI’16) but was rejected. It got an "Overall Rating" of 3, e.g. "Borderline, but somewhat closer to 'reject' than 'accept'". I wrote about it on the blog in May. "As prediction of and speculation about the future can help to explore critical alternatives, this paper discusses the practice and value of design fiction through the creation of high-quality fictional abstracts."

- The journal article "At Odds with a Worldview - Teaching Limits at a technical university" (Daniel Pargman, Elina Eriksson) has been accepted for publication in the Interactions magazine special issue on "teaching sustainability". My UCI ex-colleagues Bonnie Nardi, Bill Tomlinson and Don Patterson are putting the special issue together and me and Elina got an invitation to write a piece for it. The final version of the text will be submitted with a day or two and it will be published the October-November issue. I wrote about it on the blog in July. "In this paper, we will first elaborate on two approaches to addressing and teaching engineering (computing) students about the environmental and other challenges. We have here chosen to call these two approaches “vanilla” and “strong” sustainability."

- The journal article "The sharing economy as the commons of the 21st century" (Karin BradleyDaniel Pargman) has been accepted for publication in the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society's (CJRES) special issue on "Sharing Economies? Theories, practices and impacts". The final version of the journal article was submitted in July and the special issue will be published sometime in 2017. Work on the text started a long time ago and I wrote about it on the blog in June last year and then again in November last year. "This paper aims to make a contribution to the debate on how contemporary collaborative commons, as part of the wider sharing economy, can be understood and supported.

- The proposed journal article "The green democratic energy narrative" (Daniel Pargman, Ulrika Gunnarsson Östling, Karin Bradley) has been submitted for publication in the Energy Research & Social Science (ERSS) special issue on "Narratives and storytelling in energy and climate change research". If accepted for inclusion in the special issue, the deadline for the final version of the article is February 2017. I wrote about it on the blog in July. "In this paper, we aim to question and to “defamiliarize” the reader with the familiar story of renewable energy as a unique source of redressing everything that is wrong in society today.

- The proposed journal article "On the effects of the early 1970’s global peak in oil production" (Daniel Pargman, Joshua Tanenbaum, Elina Eriksson, Mikael Höök, Marcel Pufal, Josefin Wangel) has been submitted for publication in the Energy Research & Social Science (ERSS) special issue on "Narratives and storytelling in energy and climate change research". If accepted for inclusion in the special issue, the deadline for the final version of the article is February 2017. I wrote about it on the blog in July. "Our [paper] takes as its starting point the contrafactual statement “what if there ever only was half the oil in the ground when we started to use it 150 years ago?”". 

- The proposed book chapter "On the inherent contradictions of teaching sustainability at a technical university" (Elina Eriksson, Daniel Pargman) has been accepted for inclusion in the upcoming (2017) book "Digital Technology and Sustainability: Acknowledging Paradox, Facing Conflict, and Embracing Disruption" (edited by Mike Hazas and Lisa Nathan). We have as of yet only submitted an extended abstract and the deadline for the first full draft is August 31 and the deadline for the final draft is in April 2017. I wrote both about the book and about the proposed chapter on the blog in July. Paraphrasing the text we handed in only slightly, we said that "As university teachers, we must look at how we teach sustainability. If we teach our students vanilla sustainability, “we’ll achieve only a little” (McKay 2008, p.3) and that’s not good enough."

- The proposed book chapter "Limits to moneycomputing" (Daniel PargmanDaniel Berg) has been accepted for inclusion in the upcoming (2017) book "Digital Technology and Sustainability: Acknowledging Paradox, Facing Conflict, and Embracing Disruption" (edited by Mike Hazas and Lisa Nathan). We have as of yet only submitted an extended abstract and the deadline for the first full draft is August 31 and the deadline for the final draft is in April 2017. I wrote both about the book and about the proposed chapter on the blog in July. "An increasing number of researchers are contemplating and researching how ICT could be used to increase sustainability in our societies ... Few researchers however study or indeed even consider what is bad about computers in terms of sustainability, i.e. how computers are oftentimes used in ways that contribute to unsustainability."

- The journal article "Pluralizing the future information society" (Ulrika Gunnarsson-Östling, Mattias Höjer, Daniel Pargman, Luciane Aguiar Borges) was submitted to the journal Technological Forecasting and Social Change (TFSC) in February but we have not yet hear back from them. I wrote about it on the blog in April. "this study shows that there are alternatives to contemporary forecasted futures and exemplifies that ICT can be used to facilitate different societal developments. It is argued that creating parallel possible futures (plural) aids in the process of identifying potential benefits and drawbacks of technological development and situate current decisions in a longer time frame.

That's about it and that's quite a lot! Some of the texts above (the yellow and orange) might make a comeback and make guest appearances on the blog during the autumn term (August - December).
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torsdag 28 juli 2016

Books I've read (Oct - mid-Nov)

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These are the books I read last autumn (ten months ago). All four books, in one way or another, are about teaching sustainability to university students. I read them because I'm on a quest, trying to find suitable course literature. I would only consider the first book for that purpose though. Here's the previous blog post about books I have read. The asterisks represent the number of quotes from the each book (see further below).



**** The tiny 2013 book "Tio skäl att strunta i miljön: Om varför det är så svårt att förändra vardagligt beteende" [Ten reasons to not care about the environment: On why it is so difficult to change everyday behaviour] (sub-pocket-book sized and only a little more than 100 pages long) could in fact be a good resource for teaching. It is written by two researchers/teachers at Linköping University, Per Gyberg and Carl-Johan Rundgren and it treats the gap between what we believe is right (and necessary) and our own actual behaviours. How come we do things we in fact believe are "bad" or "wrong"? It turns out we are masterfully inventive when it comes to excusing our own behaviours and the authors systematically pick apart and reason about our most common arguments for not doing the right thing (e.g. "I don't have the time", "Why should I act green when no one else does?", "Better technologies are on the horizon" etc.). I think the book is a small gem but it can be a little hard to get hold of. It can't be ordered from anywhere else than directly from the university and I don't even know if they can sell fifty or a hundred copies all at once. From the back cover of the book:

"Most people know that we are facing huge environmental problems. Most also know how to reduce the impact and reduce the effects of the problems. In fact, most people know of many actions and changes in their daily lives which could actually make a difference. But the difference that I can do is on the other hand so small that it might not be so important on the whole. Besides, I already do a lot and I do think I have the right to do some things I do. 

There are many arguments for not doing what you yourself believe you really should do. This book highlights and discusses ten such reasons and discusses why it is so difficult to change everyday behaviors that affects the environment."



***** "Sustainability Handbook: Planning Strategically towards Sustainability" (2012) seems to have been written by a committee as it has no less than 14 authors (without being an edited book)! The number of authors did not however improve the quality of the contents. The authors are Karl-Henrik Robèrt, Göran Broman, David Waldron, Henrik Ny, Sophie Byggeth, David Cook, Lena Johansson, Jonas Oldmark, George Basile, Hördur Haraldsson, Jamie MacDonald,  Brendan Moore, Tamara Connell and Merlina Missimer, but, the book is unfortunately boring. The more interesting parts are about the background stuff (sustainability) while the more boring parts are about how to implement and "strategically manage" the proposed "Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development" in organisations and elsewhere. From the back cover:

"Sustainability handbook combines the academic and practical experience from a collection of authors. The content has been used, tested and refined over many iterations, and now serves as a primary resource for academic courses and programmes around the world. Any student or practitioner looking for more clarity on how to strategically plan and act towards sustainability in a structured, scientific, and collaborative manner will find value inside. Because of the generic nature of the Framework for strategic Sustainable Development, it can be useful for any discipline, from engineering, to product-service innovation, to business management, to urban and regional planning, and beyond."



**** Håkan Gulliksson and Ulf Holmgren are both engineers and teachers at Umeå University and they have together written the book "Hållbar utveckling: livskvalitet, beteende och teknik" (2011) [Sustainable development: quality of life, behavior and technology]. It's an easy read, it covers both this and that but it feels like the perspective is a little bit too personal and a bit too non-theoretical for what I would like to put in the hands of my students. I'm sympathetic to the persons who have written the book and the perspectives they represent, but the actual contents feel a little bit too lightweight for me. Perhaps the book works for Swedish first or second-year students, but I would still want a book that has more theoretical depth. This critique of mine might say more about me than about the book. From the back cover:

"The book's contents have been used in courses on sustainable development at Umeå University. ... You will also find many strategies on how you as an individual should behave in order to become more sustainable. These strategies are complemented with practical tips. We who wrote the book want to make the world better and help where we can with our skills. If you are a teacher, you probably have your scene at school and if you are an artist or a priest, you have other venues to operate from. If you are you an engineer, as we are, you contribute with your technology skills. Whatever you can or whatever your interests are, your talents will surely be useful towards working for a more sustainable society. The book is intended primarily for those who realize that it is time to do something about the problems we face and who wonder what you personally can do about them."



******** Jon-Erik Dahlin has a ph.d. from KTH and has worked some as a teacher. He did in fact hold a couple of guest lectures in my course about sustainability the second year it was given (back in 2013). His book "Hållbar utveckling - En introduktion för ingenjörer" (2014) [Sustainable Development - An introduction for engineers] is written specifically for engineering students. I think it does an ok job - not stellar but not too bad either. My primary critique is that he, as an engineer, has too much faith in technology and economic incentives to "fix" our environmental problems. To him there are no deep dilemmas or conflicts of interests between industrialisation, capitalism and sustainability, so it is within our reach to find win-win solutions within the current political and economical framework (e.g. "ecological modernisation"). A typical book by an engineer for engineering students. From the back cover:

"Everyday life for different types of engineers can look very different, but the classic image of the engineer is the same: the problem solver and opportunity creator. The engineer sees how to change what we do today so that the world may become a little better. And that is exactly what sustainable development is all about - to find and implement continuous improvements, everywhere in society, contributing to a better life for all. This book is intended for students who will become engineers and for engineers who want to learn more about the challenges we face today."



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 ----- On the difficulties of doing the right thing ----- 
"Regardless of if it's a matter of nations or individuals, it is relatively easy to find excuses for not caring about the environment and to defend a more or less dubious way of life. This book deals with what we perceive to be the ten most common arguments for *not* changing your behaviour, and, with how people explain why they do not do what they really believe everyone should do."
Gyberg, P. & Rundgren, C. J. (2013). Ten reasons to not care about the environment, p.12

 ----- Ten reasons to not care about the environment ----- 
Reason 1: "I don't have the time or money"
Reason 2: "I already do so much"
Reason 3: "Why should I act green when no one else does?"
Reason 4: Captured by the system
Reason 5: "Scientists disagree"
Reason 6: "Better technologies will surely be invented"
Reason 7: Enjoyment, pleasure and convenience
Reason 8: The right to do whatever you want
Reason 9: Nationalism
Reason 10: Growth - at any price?
Gyberg, P. & Rundgren, C. J. (2013). Ten reasons to not care about the environment, p.39-95


 ----- On environmental actions as negotiable ----- 
"Reason 2:" I already do so much"
...
In this category of subterfuge, environment acts are treated as a kind of quotas. There seems to exist an idea that each of us should do their fair share. But what that share is is not obvious, so you can choose from a smorgasbord of options. Owning a biogas car gives me the right to drive as much as I want. I sort and recycle all kinds of garbage, and therefore don't have to think about how many plastic bags I use. I go by bike to work, so I can travel to Thailand without a bad conscience. I buy ecological cucumbers (even though they are insanely expensive) so therefore I can buy "normal" coffee."
Gyberg, P. & Rundgren, C. J. (2013). Ten reasons to not care about the environment, p.45, 48


 ----- On conflicting messages as a pretext to do nothing ----- 
"Reason 5: "Scientists disagree"
...
In any event, many of our interviewees experienced *knowledge as fluid*. " One day it's like this and the next day it's like that". This is taken as a pretext for not having to change their behavior. One day it's fine with low-energy light bulbs, and the next day it's not; one day you should buy eco-labeled Dutch tomatoes rather than Swedish and the next day you shouldn't; one day is the ozone hole is huge and the next day it's not; one day you should use sunscreen to avoid skin cancer and the next day it's the sunscreen that causes cancer. It is difficult to determine what that is right and what is wrong in this stream of information. ... In such a world of conflicting messages from experts, it is often best to do what you have always done and to change as little as possible"
Gyberg, P. & Rundgren, C. J. (2013). Ten reasons to not care about the environment, p.12




 ----- On backcasting (vs planning, forecasting) ----- 
"Planning concerns what the world *should* look like, while forecasting is about what it *will* look like. ... backcasting is especially useful for solving problems that have any of the following characteristics:
- When the problem to be studied is complex, affecting many sectors and levels of society;
- When there is a need for *major change*, i.e., when marginal changes within the prevailing order will not be sufficient;
- When *dominant trends are part of the problem* - these trends are often the cornerstone of forecasts;
- When the problem to a great extent is a matter of *externalities*, which the market cannot treat satisfactorily; and
- When the time horizon is long enough to allow considerable scope *for deliberative choice*.
Robèrt, K. H. et. al. (2012). Sustainability Handbook, p.33-34


 ----- On the connection between social and ecological sustainability ----- 
"Sustainability relies not only on healthy ecosystems, but also on a healthy social fabric. In order to achieve sustainability, individual needs, most of which are met by being part of the social fabric, must be able to be met. The key element of the social system, the very glue holding it together, is *trust* among its members. If trust erodes and falls below a certain level, the strength and effectiveness of the social system can be severely weakened."
Robèrt, K. H. et. al. (2012). Sustainability Handbook, p.49


 ----- On delays and non-linear dynamic effects of biosphere changes ----- 
"There are numerous thresholds in the biosphere, but it is very difficult to predict the location of those thresholds at a detailed level. The richness of possibilities of both negative and positive feedback in ecosystems, as well as ecosystems' complexity and inherent non-linearity, makes it very difficult to predict the effects of human society's changes. There is also often a considerable *delay* of the effect in cause - effect chains, making it difficult to react before it is too late. Thus, by the time governments realize that there is an undesired change in the biosphere, the dynamics of that change may already be so strong that it cannot be controlled - no matter what actions are taken. It is actually possible that society has already pushed the biosphere over critical thresholds, because the full effects have not shown up yet."
Robèrt, K. H. et. al. (2012). Sustainability Handbook, p.100


 ----- On the precautionary principle ----- 
"Given the complexity of the socio-ecological system and the characteristics of such a system, the *precautionary principle* should be embraced. However, it is important to point out that this principle does not say: *do nothing*. Doing nothing is a decision too, so the precautionary principle should be applied to inactivity as well. In some circumstances, inactivity may be just as dangerous as actively doing the wrong thing.
Robèrt, K. H. et. al. (2012). Sustainability Handbook, p.101


 ----- On pollution of the biosphere as evolution in reverse ----- 
"During the industrial age human society has produced, and is still producing, a large net input of substances from the lithosphere into the biosphere (for example, fossil fuels and metals). These flows are often large compared to the natural flows from the lithosphere. After steadily decreasing during the past few billion years of evolution, toxic substances are again accumulating in the biosphere. Industrial societies have "liberated" pollutants that were previously locked up as mineral and fossil fuel deposits. Many of these are intrinsically toxic - for example mercury and cadmium - basic elements that can never be broken down into less toxic components."
Robèrt, K. H. et. al. (2012). Sustainability Handbook, p.109




 ----- On happiness research ----- 
"Another important and interesting conclusion from the research is that happiness is statistically higher in democracies, when people move to cities, when a country becomes industrialized and when a country can be characterized as more individualistic."
Gulliksson, H., & Holmgren, U. (2011). Sustainable development, p.40


 ----- On the impossibility of being both poor and happy ----- 
"Consider a very deprived person who is poor, exploited, overworked and ill, but who has been made satisfied with his lot by social conditioning (thorough, say, religion, political propaganda, or cultural pressure). Can we possibly believe that he is doing well just because he is happy and satisfied? Can the living standard of a person be high if the life that he or she leads is full of deprivation? The standard of life cannot be so detached from the nature of the life the person leads."
Gulliksson, H., & Holmgren, U. (2011). Sustainable development, p.174


 ----- Specialization is for insects ----- 
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dyig, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equation, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
Robert Heinlein in Gulliksson, H., & Holmgren, U. (2011). Sustainable development, p.278


 ----- On taxing the shit out of air travel ----- 
"The number of direct trips [from Sweden] to Thailand doubled between 2005 and 2007. ... What then is the attitude (or the attitudes) to these trips? Let us presume that trips to Thailand would be banned. Would it be politically possible (apart from the fact that many would instead travel from Norway)? Probably not. Would it be acceptable to ration the number of air miles per Swede per years? For example to 10 000 kilometers? Probably not. Would a penalty tax on leisure flights be accepted if the money is used for helping developing countries? Probably, at least if the tax does not raised the price so much that the trip is made impossible. The worst-case result would be that only the rich could afford to go. Where then is the painful threshold for a trip to Thailand? ... Suppose that the cost would be SEK 20 000 [instead of just under 5000 SEK] ... How many would then go? How many would lose their livelihoods in Thailand? How do we assess the perceived loss in quality of life for those who then can not afford to go?"
Gulliksson, H., & Holmgren, U. (2011). Sustainable development, p.311




 ----- On energy use in Sweden ----- 
"Swedish total energy use is equivalent to a per capita power use of about 4.5 kW per person ... divided between 1.6 kW in industry, 1.8 kW in housing and services and 1.1 kW for transportation. Energy consumption in Sweden corresponds to that of many other industrialized countries, and is roughly at the EU average, despite the fact that we in the northern countries have the highest need for heating. ... The total of 4.5 kW used in Sweden corresponds to secondary energy use distributed at about 36% electricity, 41% thermal energy and 23% fuel. ... In transforming primary energy into secondary energy there are losses. The total primary energy supply in Sweden before losses are 7.2 kW per person. By comparison, the global average is around 2.5 kW per person, and is often at the level of 0.5 kW per person or even lower in developing countries. ... The United States ... has a total primary energy supply of 9.5 kW per person. "
Dahlin, J-E. (2014). Sustainable development, p.67-68


 ----- On nuclear power pros and cons ----- 
"There are in total over 400 nuclear reactors in the world and they account for around 6 percent of the global energy supply and 13 percent of the electricity production. In Sweden, nuclear power accounts for slightly more than 40 percent of all electricity production, and the expansion of the Swedish nuclear power is one of the main reasons for the Swedish carbon emissions being so low today. ... Nevertheless, nuclear power is controversial from a number of sustainability perspectives. The main reasons are:
- The potential risk of accidents during operation
- Environmental problems in the mining of uranium
- Environmental problems at the final storage of spent nuclear waste
- Uranium is a finite natural resource. "
Dahlin, J-E. (2014). Sustainable development, p.71-73


 ----- On hydroelectric power in Sweden ----- 
"Modern hydropower is probably to be the most energy-efficient way to utilize natural resources for electricity generation, with efficiencies in energy conversion that in large installations can get above 90 percent. ... In Sweden there are about 2000 hydroelectric plants, with big differences in size. 200 of them counts as larger, i.e. with a power of 10 MW or more. The smallest power plants has an output of just a few kW, while Sweden's largest hydropower plant, Harsprånget in the Lule River, has an output of almost 1 GW (which is more than what some of the nuclear reactors provide). The world's largest hydropower plant is the Three Gorges in China with a capacity of over 22 GW, which is more than the total electricity production of Sweden."
Dahlin, J-E. (2014). Sustainable development, p.73-74


 ----- On water use in Sweden ----- 
"In an average household in Sweden, each individual uses 168 liters of water per day, of which less than 10 liters is used for drinking and cooking. Adding the amount of water used in industry, in agriculture etc.,  the average Swede uses about 800 liters of fresh water per person per day. In many parts of the world, that figure is close to 10 liters per person per day. That does naturally not mean that it is wrong to use large amounts of water in Sweden where that resource is available in abundance (Sweden has a comparative advantage in water-intensive activities). However, it could be interesting to reflect on the fact that we use 2-4 liters of clean drinking water every time we flush the toilet. "
Dahlin, J-E. (2014). Sustainable development, p.100


 ----- Expect more storms in the future ----- 
"Cyclones and other low pressures contain large amounts of energy and can get still more energy to move by getting the air in motion, thereby driving winds which in turn drive the ocean currents. They thus play an important role in Earth's climate by smoothing out the temperature between the hot tropics and the cold poles. The warmer the planet gets, the more important this task becomes, and the more intensive the weather systems has to work to distribute the temperature."
Dahlin, J-E. (2014). Sustainable development, p.118


 ----- On us, living in an ice age ----- 
"One of the most successful methods for analysing climate trends have proven to be to drill for ice cores from ice sheets. In Greenland and Antarctica the ice has been stable for hundreds of thousands of years in many places. ... The normal state on Earth for the last 2 million years is that the planet is in an ice age, with ice sheets that cover large parts of the continents and a global average temperature of about 6-8 °C lower than today. Shorter periods of warmer weather, so calling interglacials, interrupt the ice ages for  about 10 000 years and the ice withdraws temporarily back to the polar regions. We are currently in such an interglacial. During the cold periods, the sea level is more than 100 meters lower than today because so much water is tied up in ice sheets. "
Dahlin, J-E. (2014). Sustainable development, p.130-131


 ----- On reuse as good but also hard ----- 
"The major part of a product's environmental impact is determined already in the design phase, which both gives the engineer a special responsibility and great opportunities to through their professions influence the world for the better. ... Reusing products are often the most energy and resource-efficient way to return materials to the materials cycle, but it requires that manufacture and assembly is not so complex so as to make it hard to reuse components and that components and products will not be so worn down during the use phase that they can not be reused. Reuse often means that the product is used again, but in a way or in a market where the quality is lower"
Dahlin, J-E. (2014). Sustainable development, p.148, 151


 ----- Can air travel ever become "sustainable"? ----- 
"Tourist trips to Thailand and India as well as business and conference travel to all the corners of the world definitely have positive values in terms of sustainability: they contribute to cultural and intellectual exchange between nations and peoples. But they also have negative aspects in terms of sustainability through [their] emissions. ... The airlines and aircraft manufacturers realise that their products have both positive and negative sustainability impacts, and they have begun to develop new products that can make aviation more sustainable in the future."
Dahlin, J-E. (2014). Sustainable development, p.208
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