Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Happy birthday, Oliver

When I was a kid, we only had one phone, and it was my dads business- as well as our private number. It had one of these round analog dials, no redial of course. I could never talk longer than a few minutes because the phone was mission critical to my dad's business. We had a three digit number ("420" for those that are into these details). This has been the only means of communication besides face-to-face conversation or writing letters until I finally had access to email at the university - which was of little use initially, since everyone else I knew who had access to email was sitting next to me in the same computer lab anyways.

Today, my 3 year old daugher is using one of my three iPods, our 12-year old has his own mobile, we have wireless lan, 2 fixed lines phone (ISDN), a couple of mobile numbers, skype, and iChat AV. My brother lives on the other side of the earth, and I am working with an international community to create free software that is downloaded to the thousands every month from all over the planet.

I just talked for about 45 minutes on Skype with my brother in New Zealand - his birthday today, but our thoughts were with the world's most pressing problems no less. So while we are busy consuming 20 tons of material per capita and year (thats for the USA, not Switzerland, ok?) and talk about a simpler way of sustainable living, he is currently host to Alexander von Fegesack, director of the vitra design museum in Weil - thats just 5 minutes by car from where I live, but he is at my brothers place, which is roughly 18'000 kilometers away from here, in Auckland, NZ.

Later our mam joined in a skype conference call and we sang "happy birthday" - once around the globe.

It never stops to amaze me how much the world - and our lifes - have changed in the last 25 years. What will we be doing 25 years from now?


  1. Hey Boris, do you subscribe to "a simpler way"?

    From their website: "In other words there has to be significant cultural change, away from a mentality driven by competition, selfishness and greed. Households must derive satisfaction from frugal and self-sufficient ways, growing and making and repairing. Most of us would have far less need for money than at present, meaning we might need to work in a paid job only one day a week. We would therefore have much time for community affairs, arts, crafts, festivals and learning things."

    Sounds very illusionary to me, frankly. People, unfortunately, are competitive, selfish and greedy. And I personally don't want to go back to growing food myself.

    I'm convinced that their are solutions to the problems which do not require a change in the way we live.


  2. Hi Sala,

    in fact they do not assume that *everyone* is growing his own food, but to use local produce, which is often prefer anyways, and to convert the suburbs into land where edible food - like nuts or fruit - is growing.

    Its obvious that the way we live today is neither sustainable nor applicable on a global scale. In the time it takes us to discover one barrel of oil, 2 barrels are used. There is no point in being optimistic about oil - the time of cheap oil is over.

    In the US, Suburbia will we wasteland if oil or reasonably priced alternatives are not available - there is no point living in a place like Suburbia without a car that gets you to your job.

    I don't subscribe to anybody's point of view, but I'll argue that it will be easier to cure cancer than keep living like we do today minus oil.

    Its definitely worth to read about their utopia.

    - Boris