We were green and lifecasting in 2008

December 15, 2008

by Mark Ollig

So here we are – nearing the end of another year in this the 21st century.

The year 2008 still seems so new . . . I mean it is hard to believe there are only days left before we begin 2009.

For this week’s column, I wanted to go over a couple of the themes we focused on during this past year.

During 2008 we heard much more talk about the environment and how we need to be going “green” in order to help conserve energy and reduce our use and dependence on fossil fuels – which harm the environment and sends America’s money to those Oil Producing and Exporting Countries better known as OPEC.

Sat., March 29, 2008, in a well-organized grass roots campaign, “Earth Hour” was observed in order to raise awareness of a worldwide energy conservation effort.

Earth Hour invited people from all over the world to turn off their lights for one hour – from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

I was made aware of this observance when visiting the Google web site. I found their home page had gone “dark.”

Google had splashed the following message, “. . .we turned the lights out on the Google.com homepage as a gesture to raise awareness of a worldwide energy conservation effort called Earth Hour.”

This is still a new event, as the first Earth Hour took place last year in Sydney, Australia.

On March 31, 2007, approximately 2.2 million Australians, along with 2,100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour.

They started Earth Hour by turning off a light switch and enjoying an hour of quiet darkness.

What started in Australia has now turned into a global event.

Earth Hour is a global climate change initiative, which calls on individuals and businesses around the world to turn off their lights for one hour.

The aim of the campaign is to communicate that individual action on a large scale can help change our planet for the better.

Earth Hour is trying to show the connection between energy usage and climate change.

The main driving force for this occasion is in response to the threat of global climate change, which according to Earth Hour’s web site “is one of the greatest threats the world has ever faced.”

The primary point of the campaign was to show people how easy it is for anyone to become involved and take action.

Earth Hour hopes this awareness will change our electrical usage habits in the future, as well.

Your Bits & Bytes columnist is now officially registered with Earth Hour and will take part in the 2009 observance.

For more information about Earth Hour, or to sign up and take an active part in the 2009 event, visit their web site at http://www.earthhour.org.

Another popular theme for 2008 has been real-time social interaction or video “lifecasting” over the Internet using a webcam.

Lifecasting is: “broadcasting each and every moment of your life on the Internet.”

However, as 2008 nears the end I am observing many of these 24-hour lifecasters have switched to broadcasting at only certain hours of the day.

Some lifecaster’s are broadcasting as “themed” channels. One such channel features online pottery demonstrations and is called “Mudfire.” This channel broadcasts in real-time over the Internet on the justin.tv web site.

The person (Robert) who broadcasts Mudfire has a webcam focused on a spinning pottery wheel in his studio and converses with his viewers while “throwing clay.”

Robert uses a text-to-speech program which allows him to hear what is being typed in the chat, such as questions pertaining to specific pottery practices, types of kilns he has, and methods used to fire pottery, like Raku.

The chats are interesting as folks wanting to learn this craft will ask questions about various types of clay, kneading methods, centering, glazing techniques, and more.

Robert is very polite (and patient) as he converses audibly with the folks in the chat answering questions and responding to comments about ceramics and pottery.

Watching and participating in the chat is very educational. Robert demonstrates the processes it takes to make great-looking pottery. I even found myself thinking about signing up for a pottery class.

Check out Robert’s Mudfire channel and observe him making some amazing pottery pieces at http://www.justin.tv/mudfire. Mudfire also has an archived video you can watch when the channel is not broadcasting live.