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Liveblogging “An Evening of Green Web 2.0” March 25, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Downtown, environment, Gastown, social networking, sustainability, upcoming events, urbanization, Vancouver.

After a short chat with Rebecca (aka Miss604), I decided that I was going to liveblog the event. She is also liveblogging, so mosey over to her blog for another perspective.

I was quite excited about the prospect, since I hadn’t met Darren Barefoot in person, nor the other two speakers. There is a bonus guest speaker. UPDATE – Food sponsored by WriteImage, additional sponsorship by Communicopia and location sponsorship by WorkSpace.

5.58pm – Rebecca has suggested that I live-blog and I accept, and surprisingly (and happily) my laptop is not having issues. I manage to get Wi-Fi and here I go!

6:10pm Owen works for a recent start-up in West Vancouver. They are organizing an event for Earth Hour (turn off all unnecessary power and lights). He mentioned that the biggest event will be in Toronto, but there are others here in Vancouver. Owen’s company does energy information management. Currently, they are working on a project that will monitor the energy savings that will be gained from Vancouver people participating in Earth Hour. Owen’s firm is also helping UBC measure opportunities for greenhouse gas reduction (if I understood correctly).

Ron Williams @ HappyFrog.

6:15pm Ron is “the token non-geek” of the evening. He’s going to talk about “Why HappyFrog?”. Live for about 5 months. What brought Ron to do what he did? He described the larger perspective that brought him to do this. He first looked at his Ecological Footprint (a concept developed by UBC professor William Rees and his PhD student, now professor Mathis Wackernagel, that measures how much land would we need to use per capita – so you’d need a few planet Earths to sustain a world-wide North American life-style). By the way, if you want to calculate your own ecological footprint, you can do so here.

RAUL’S NOTE – I was quite impressed at the degree to which Ron understands the whole issue around the problems with non-sustainable consumption, with the fact that the planet has a limited carrying capacity, and that our consumption patterns are unsustainable.

6.23 pm – Ron’s speech continues. These non-sustainable mega-trends should make us look at the level of dislocation and disruption – when will we realize how much impact we have? So, this is how Ron understood the world, and he wanted to create an independent media project – that’s how HappyFrog came to exist.

HappyFrog is harnessing social media, creating a resource that is locally-based, it is a hyper local directory of about 2000 businesses and non-for-profit that are British-Columbia-based. It’s based on Drupal. Basically a parallel to the 100-mile diet (“the 100-mile economic diet”) – socially responsible businesses with emerging commitments to sustainability. Everything is in your own backyard, the scale is different. He also commented about Epic – the Sustainable Living Show. They’ll going to put up a team of social media.

RAUL’S COMMENTS – Ron did a great presentation that was (surprisingly) non-geeky and without a laptop. Great behind-the-scenes description of how he came to be inspired to create HappyFrog. I am glad I now know more about HappyFrog.

Rex Turgano @ The Green Pages.

6.35 pm Rex is the Creator of The Green Pages website. In a nutshell, it is an environmental, Canadian website dedicated to sharing stories and information. They’ve been operating for about 10 years now. (RAUL’S NOTE – Love the layout!). In 1996, Rex started off at Univ of Waterloo, and apparently this idea came to fruition at the U Waterloo dorm. From their website:

thegreenpages.ca is a grassroots web phenomenon that started in the dorm room of an environmental studies student at the University of Waterloo. It began with a large collection of links and then grew into an interactive portal highlighting the latest social-economic, environment-related news, events, and stories from across Canada. The site acted as what is known today as a “blog” and created opportunities for students, organisations, and community groups to voice their opinions and share information. Today, the web site is a virtual “library” of ideas, success stories, snap-shots from the past, and inspiration.

RAUL’S COMMENT – At The Green Pages, you can browse by category and by region (e.g. if you want to check out British Columbia stuff you can check it out using a pull-down menu. I insist, I love the design. It was also nice to see him describe the actual evolutionary process (e.g. how he went from composing HTML on Netscape Communicator to adding discussion groups on Yahoo! and experimenting with logos, and animated GIFs – Rex is really funny, I have to say. Very good presenter.

Rex was frustrated and tired of forwarding stuff to people who were asking him the inevitable question “hey where do I find this environmentally-related stuff?“. He commented about a website that he used to go back through time, Archive.org. Holy smokes, you can go back SO many years! In 2004, his website evolved into a portal (similar to Google).

Over the years, The Green Pages has supported a LOT of organizations (and catalogued them, with the help of a few volunteers). The site kept growing and growing, and people started sending books (Rex, can I get a few of those? hehehehe). Apparently people thought that he was this huge organization (hopefully one day, Random Thoughts of a Student of the Environment gets me some free books!).

RAUL’S NOTE – It’s kind of nice to see that there are other people who have studied graduate programs in Environmental Studies (although at a different university – I confess that would *love* to be a professor at Rex’s alma mater – the Faculty of Environmental Studies at University of Waterloo). If I get a tenure-track position with FES, that’d be a dream job! Anyhow… I digress… back to Rex’s talk.

In 2003-2005 he became frustrated with information overload and partner frustration. So by then he realized that he could blog and that the social interaction was already built in. Thus began the “Greater Conversion” as Rex called it. He wanted a fluid site (RAUL’S NOTE – It is fluid, Rex, don’t change it!)

Numbers: 15 blogs, 10331 entries, 3000 links, 11,000 visits per month, circa 500 per day, 45+ volunteers across Canada. This is a part-time gig, with no funding. GreenPages as a media outlet, enviro-buddy, etc. They’re focusing on the latest technology (WordPress, Drupal, etc.), breaking down content, some social media technology (Upcoming.org, and Facebook – RAUL’S NOTE – I *hate* Facebook but *love* Upcoming.org – it links to my Google Calendar!)

Darren Barefoot – Associated with DeSmogBlog

6.51pm – It’s Darren Barefoot’s turn! Man, does he *ever* have a great voice! He should be a radio anchor, because his voice just filled this room. Very excited about the prospect of seeing him speak and meet with him in person for the first time!

Capulet (the company that Darren is a partner of) started to work with DeSmogBlog – he is NOT using PowerPoint (I’m very impressed) – using a very unusual but cool . Widgets – a widget is a “little bit of functionality on a website”. They made a desktop widget. Folks at DeSmogBlog – display the carbon footprint of the planet. Capulet helped DeSmogBlog create apparently the first carbon footprint widget out there.

Darren talked about Digg (ok, so I’m a non-geek blogger and yes I was excited to hear about Digg). It’s kind of a bookmarking service. DeSmogBlog is strongly and aggressively tackling bad climate-change skeptic PR.

They (DeSmogBlog and Capulet) have also engaged blogger outreach (I admit that I didn’t want to get involved with DeSmogBlog for a long time due to my work commitments, but now as they are shifting, I might want to get involved with them – even if climate change isn’t like full-on my research area, but I’ve studied the literature long enough). They also created a newsletter (old-school).

So it seems that DeSmogBlog also tried to do YouTube videos (but apparently didn’t really take off very much – the ones that worked, very few). According to DB, Facebook and MySpace bad for advertising (RAUL’S COMMENT – YAY Me! I don’t have to sign on to FB nor MS either – no source of revenue!!).

Question from the audience – Did you consider podcasting? – DB – Not really… they wanted to do some videos, but it is a lot more work that a blog post. 5 blog posts take less time than one podcast (RAUL’S NOTE – I agree. I love podcasts, though – but I am not sure they’d work that well at propagating climate-change stuff).

Question from the audience – what were the metrics of success of the site? – DB – Simple: more links, more visits, etc. Google Analytics, Technorati (which doesn’t seem to be all that great right now).

7.10 pm – The event is basically over. I think I’m going to stay for a bit and/or join DB at Steamworks (head over there if you feel like it!)

UPDATE – In a previous post I had already suggested that I would attend this event, but I can’t stop giving myself pats in the back for doing it because it was REALLY fun, and I got to chat to a number of people (which I’ll mention in my next post).


1. Vancouver NetTuesdays - An Evening of Green Web 2.0 » Miss604’s Vancouver Blog by Vancouver Blogger Rebecca Bollwitt - March 25, 2008

[…] PS – Nancy is live-twittering and Raul is liveblogging. […]

2. Rebecca - March 25, 2008

Nice job tonight Raul! Glad you decided to live blog, you got to share your own thoughts, opinions and take on the whole evening 🙂

3. Darren - March 25, 2008

Thanks for the live bloggage!

4. nancy (aka money coach) - March 25, 2008

ack! sorry I missed you! (how did I??) And I’m totally bummed out I had to leave half-way through. I would have loved hearing the last 2 speakers.
Looking forward to a blog post from you 😉

5. Erika Rathje - March 25, 2008

I didn’t know you were there, Raul! Shame on me, I should have seen it in my RSS, not that I know what you look like 🙂 Thanks for the recap. See you at the next one, May 6? 🙂

6. Raul - March 26, 2008

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words and for dropping by. Yes, I’ll be at the next one 🙂 I will have a name tag, for sure. And business cards 🙂

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