Like most conferences that have a hip image to uphold this year, South by Southwest is making a concerted effort to cast an eco-friendly light on their 2008 technology, music and film festival. The organizers are purchasing renewable energy credits from the city of Austin, and pimping biodiesel options for transportation. And while greener tech practices have been a side note over the past couple of days, on Tuesday we’re getting our chance to help the digerati here in Austin bring greener practices to the front and center.
Tuesday morning, we’ll be participating in a panel on how to “greenify your digital life,” which will feature our own (and Wired’s) Alexis Madrigal, Dwell’s Sarah Rich, and NetSquared/Techsoup.org Jennifer Schlegel. We’ll be looking at ways the Internet is being used in combination with clean technologies to fight climate change. Expect to hear us chat about all those fun web apps and networked clean technologies like “smart charging” that have graced these pages. Hopefully 10AM isn’t too early for the festival’s night owls.
Then later in the afternoon we’ll be speaking on the “Green Software, Really?” panel, which will focus on the growing movement to use software to make computers, data centers and the web run more efficiently. Radar Network’s Kim Laama organized the talk, which will feature Frog Design software designer Sara Todd, and the two great Gavins — Gavin Bell from Nature Publishing Group and Gavin Starks the Director of dgen network. This will be a good one, so you should stick around til we get it rolling at 3:30.
And beyond our panel barrage on Tuesday there are a couple green web initiatives at the show that have stood out. Environmentalist Bill McKibben is working on 350.org, a social web movement organized around the number of carbon dioxide measured in parts per million, which is now the agreed-upon safe upper limit for the atmosphere. McKibben is planning on launching a full version of the web site soon and has been discussing some of his social media aims at different venues this week.
Social network startup Make Me Sustainable has also been trying to help SXSW get greener through networked collaboration. The crew behind the site that launched last July, have created a branded page for attendee goers to connect and collaborate on carbon offsets. If you haven’t ever walked through the carbon footprint process, Make Me Sustainable has an easy to use extensive set of tools. But only a little over 250 people have joined the SXSW group, so we haven’t really “retired any power plants” yet.
While any large convention will inevitably generate waste and massive carbon emissions through travel and events, SXSW has so far actually done a pretty good job of trying to minimize its carbon footprint. Particularly when compared to many of the bigger conferences like CES, or even some of the larger cleantech industry events. And after our day of discussion on Tuesday, we’ll post a wrap up of some of the things we learned about going green in a digital, networked world.