A random collection of things that inspire, interest and trouble me
from the world of design, politics, art and culture.

Selling the sizzle

Posted: December 9th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: behaviour, environment, future | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »


Have just read Futerra’s report Selling the Sizzle. It is a basic outline of how, through positive framing, climate change activists can radically change people’s behaviour toward climate change. It’s all about making the actions desirable so that people actually take them. For, “without public support the Cynics win by default. All they need is inaction”

The basic problem, Futerra says, is that “most climate friendly behaviours, especially the big hard ones (travel, diet, etc) are not aspirational or desirable. One factor that tars them is their association with a problem. You’re asked to make a sacrifice for the greater good, which has rarely in human history been a high status pastime.”

But Futerra believes that if we frame these actions positively then they could become desirable. They list the process that communicators should use as:


This step-by-step process feels a bit like a quit smoking programme. First, envision the glorious future without cigarettes. Then once the patient can see the positive future, give them a choice between this, and the hell of a lifetime of smoking. Then you and the patient start planning on how you will tackle quitting smoking. And finally the patient takes action and quits smoking, and you keep reinforcing the positive future they have chosen.

The question is, will it work? Can we make desirable the behaviour and lifestyle changes that are necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change? If you are in the business of communicating climate change, I suggest you read the report.

Reading and watching

Posted: December 8th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Today I have been watching Copenhagen TV via Oneclimate.net. There have been some very thought provoking interviews and some inspiring films on there so far. You can also keep track of course via Twitter (#COP15), or the Tck Tck Tck live blog, or even the on demand videos from the UNFCC. It is interesting how much more I feel a part of this conference than I did that of Bali, basically down to the ability to access live streaming video and read the Twitter stream.

I also watched a very interesting talk on the next big thing in digital media (or below if the player works for you), put on by the Paley Centre for Media. The talk was convened by Quincy Smith from CBS Interactive and introduces and explains the ideas and funding models behind start ups like Boxee, Chartbeat, Hot Potato, Jelli, gdgt.com and Tapulous. Of some interestwas Chartbeat which is a real time analytic service that allows companies to track what people are doing on their sites in real time and adjust the content or direction accordingly.

Tomorrow is a reading day and I am going to sit myself down with a nice cup of tea to read Futerra’s Sell the Sizzle report which calls on campaigners and the government to stop selling doom and gloom about the climate and instead talk about how living a low-carbon life will be heavenly. The name of the report comes from the idea that with sausages you don’t sell dead pork, you sell the sizzle and smell of them cooking. It’s all about positive framing. You can download it on Futerra’s site.

I am also going to read a working paper entitled Culture|Futures Cultural Transformations for a Cultural Age, edited by Olaf Gerlach-Hansen. This investigates how “culture interconnects with the reality of climate change and with ecology. It aims to establish a set of common understandings and definitions, and to identifiy important perspectives for cultural strategies for sustainable development”. You can download the report on the RSA’s Arts & Ecology site.

I also plan on wading through the many useful articles on user experience on the Usability Professional’s website. This is to swot up on what I hope will be my new career. Enough with print, bring in the digital.

Shipping News

Posted: October 14th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: environment, infographics, mapping | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Where does our stuff come from and what impact does that have on the planet? This is the basic premise to a new open source project called Sourcemap which allows users to trace the supply chain for all the products (and their components) they use in their daily lives. It’s worth watching this video to see how it works:


You can search for the components that go to make up certain products, locate their manufacturing point, and then add them to a map which visualises the entire supply chain of that product. The ‘receipt’ summarises the carbon emissions and energy used in manufacture and transport of the product from initial source to final destination. Each component description can also include photos, videos and text.


This is a dynamic project which is in complete contrast to the rather static project being conducted by the BBC on their news site. Called The Box, it involves the BBC tracking a container around the world for a year with updates on a live map as well as videos and photos posted by the BBC and by readers (photo below from Alastair Blackwood).


What makes Sourcemap a better project, in my opinion, is that it is based on open source data collection and collaboration. Some may see the source material as less trustworthy than that from the BBC, but I think despite this it is a much more successful use of online media. It’s collaborative aspect is just the thing that the big media giants are hopelessly behind in harnessing.

Sourcemap also allows users to create their own travel maps, which would be just the thing if you were like Ed Gillespie from Futerra. In 2007 he and his partner travelled the world without flying and instead savouring the benefits of slow travel. You can read about it on their blog.

Thanks to Visual Complexity for the initial tip off on Sourcemap.