Monday, October 15, 2007

Oct. 15: Blog Action Day

I find it interesting to see all of the blog-related holidays or events that have cropped up over the last few years. This is a testament to the power of this form of communication. This year, Blog Action Day is focusing on the environment. Very fitting given the focus that the world has had on the environment this year. And accidentally timed perfectly to occur after Al Gore and UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change jointly won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize last week.

What does digitization have to do with the environment? The one thing I can think of is that by placing digital surrogates on the Internet, not only can more people view the materials, but they do not have to travel to see the materials. That saves gas and helps the environment. Can anyone think of another way our work helps the environment?

I do wonder, though, about the energy efficiency of the equipment we're using in our programs. Are the manufacturers of the equipment thinking of ways to save energy? That's a questions I'll have to start asking them at trade shows.

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Jeanne said...

This seems like the perfect time to point out the work of IEDRO (about which I wrote about in my post International Environmental Data Rescue Organization: Rescuing At Risk Weather Records Around the World).

The short version is that they are a non-profit dedicated to digitizing weather records. That information can then be used to learn about the environment and help support better decisions related to agriculture, construction, the treatment of diseases and more.

french panic said...

My apologies if I have already submitted this response - my computer hiccuped and I had too many windows open....

Though digitization does save on gas used by potential visitors, computers themselves are nasty little things. Considering the incredibly short lifespan of computers (and digital cameras, iPods, etc.), they are taking up huge amounts of space in landfills, etc. Though some computers are refurbished, I would argue that the majority just become hunks of junk - and what of the corrosive elements that leach into the environment once hardrives, motherboards, etc. start to break down (if ever?)

What about all those floppy discs that are completely useless?

How about the fact that many computer parts are made in countries far, far away, and the amount of fuel required to ship parts here and there is obscene?

You do make a good point about the amount of energy required to power computers and digitizing equipment.

I don't think that creating digital surrogates "helps" the environment at all. And what of the amount of labour and human resources required to digitize items and make them available - what about all those items that won't be digitized (due to prohibitive costs)?

Don't even get me started on Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize. He has been successful in raising AWARENESS to the issue of climate change, but what exactly has he DONE? What about all those activists/educators (David Suzuki comes to mind) who have dedicated their lives to raising awareness and creating change? Gore made a movie/fancy powerpoint presentation that reiterated previously published (and KNOWN) facts on climate change. He did reach a wider audience, which is fantastic, but his credentials for being awarded a peace prize are suspect.

All that being said, I would still love to have a digitization program in place at the archives I work for!