The “coolness” leaving Computer Science for EcoStuff?

One conversation from SXSW has been causing more of my few remaining brain cells to fire randomly than any other.

It was where I was lying on the ground chatting with Ethan Zuckerman, cofounder of Global Voices Online. (Awesome blog that tries to bring bloggers all over the world together).

Now, you probably don’t know Ethan, but he’s one of the smartest mofos around. He regularly gets invited to speak at conferences like Pop!Tech and TED.

Last week he attended TED and told me it was the first time he didn’t feel like a rock star.

Why not?

He says that the attention of the world’s biggest venture capitalists has left the computer world and moved to the world of environmentalism. Says that the attention there was on material scientists and other scientists who are coming up with ways to save energy, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, etc.

You know, all the cool stuff we see over on TreeHugger.com (awesome blog too).

I write this because if the world’s richest people are going to start pouring their resources somewhere other than computer science, that’s important to know, especially if you’re someone trying to decide on a career.

Who’s leading this charge? John Doerr. The VC behind Google and many of the world’s hottest companies. Michael Parekh wrote up John’s tearful talk at TED. So did a WiredBlogger. Darryl Siry, who is chief marketing officer at Tesla motors (which makes awesome electric cars) wrote about his thoughts at the TED talk as well.

I saw the pressure on this change everytime 2008 US Presidential Candidate John Edwards spoke too when he toured the country announcing he was running back in December (I was invited to hang out with the campaign). Everytime he mentioned Global Warming the crowd erupted into the largest applause lines of his talks.

There’s going to be a lot of political pressure in the next year on candidates to have a really great plan for energy and environmental stewardship. John Edwards, on Twitter the other day, said his campaign would become carbon neutral. Watch other candidates to do that and more.

What are you seeing? Is this an issue that’s started hitting you yet?

40 thoughts on “The “coolness” leaving Computer Science for EcoStuff?

  1. The VC’s in Seattle have jumped into this big-time as well, but one in particular has lost his shirt in the ethanol game. Another local entrepreneurial play are these guys: http://www.thinkspace.com/ who have converted most of a building in Redmond to an ultra-green state significantly to attract these green types of startups. We have a suite here, but are here for the location, not the earth-friendliness. Only time will tell if the trendy expense of LEED certification is compensated for by the enhanced marketability.

  2. The VC’s in Seattle have jumped into this big-time as well, but one in particular has lost his shirt in the ethanol game. Another local entrepreneurial play are these guys: http://www.thinkspace.com/ who have converted most of a building in Redmond to an ultra-green state significantly to attract these green types of startups. We have a suite here, but are here for the location, not the earth-friendliness. Only time will tell if the trendy expense of LEED certification is compensated for by the enhanced marketability.

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  5. @15 Tell that to the people in NYC today. Snowing….in March. Or tell that to one Ann Bancroft, who had to call off a 530 mile treck across the Arctic to “bring attention to Global Warming” because is was TOO COLD and she got FROSTBITE in three toes. HA HA! She said “they were experiencing temperatures that weren’t expected with global warming”. The promptly attempted to blame it on “unpredictabilty” due to global warming. So, I get it: Even if it gets TOO COLD, we can attribute it to global warming!

  6. @15 Tell that to the people in NYC today. Snowing….in March. Or tell that to one Ann Bancroft, who had to call off a 530 mile treck across the Arctic to “bring attention to Global Warming” because is was TOO COLD and she got FROSTBITE in three toes. HA HA! She said “they were experiencing temperatures that weren’t expected with global warming”. The promptly attempted to blame it on “unpredictabilty” due to global warming. So, I get it: Even if it gets TOO COLD, we can attribute it to global warming!

  7. Interesting, we had noticed the same trend and blogged on it earlier this week – didn’t go down well, quite a bit of -ve karma on the post!

    Should’ve written it on renewable typeface ;)

    My main frustration is that a lot of the “Green” stuff is not really green, its an interesting alliance of Govt, commercial interests and forward-to-the-past types trying (as usual) to screw the poor consumer – but to be a naysayer brands you a heretic.

    Green is the New Fundamentalism?

  8. Interesting, we had noticed the same trend and blogged on it earlier this week – didn’t go down well, quite a bit of -ve karma on the post!

    Should’ve written it on renewable typeface ;)

    My main frustration is that a lot of the “Green” stuff is not really green, its an interesting alliance of Govt, commercial interests and forward-to-the-past types trying (as usual) to screw the poor consumer – but to be a naysayer brands you a heretic.

    Green is the New Fundamentalism?

  9. There is a running series on the BBC news at 10pm about Climate Change. One farmer has started planting olive trees in the south of England. It’s increasingly in our conciousness in the UK.

  10. There is a running series on the BBC news at 10pm about Climate Change. One farmer has started planting olive trees in the south of England. It’s increasingly in our conciousness in the UK.

  11. Green Business and alternative energy are the new internet. It’s a good thing for the planet but I’m afraid it will be a bad thing for the planet. I’m seeing many of the same faces in “Clean Tech” that I saw in the late ’90′s in internet.

  12. Green Business and alternative energy are the new internet. It’s a good thing for the planet but I’m afraid it will be a bad thing for the planet. I’m seeing many of the same faces in “Clean Tech” that I saw in the late ’90′s in internet.

  13. John Doerr is a fraud, any other time he woulda been frog-tied in handcuffs, and strung up on securities charges galore. And so is the whole global warming CO2 government-funded research dollars; Science turned into a political movement, with VC frauds, abandoning tech utopia, and picking up the faux green banner? Well, one thing sure in sheer abundance, stupidity.

  14. John Doerr is a fraud, any other time he woulda been frog-tied in handcuffs, and strung up on securities charges galore. And so is the whole global warming CO2 government-funded research dollars; Science turned into a political movement, with VC frauds, abandoning tech utopia, and picking up the faux green banner? Well, one thing sure in sheer abundance, stupidity.

  15. Is Edward’s definition of carbon neutral the same as Algore’s? Use as much energy as I want (221,000 Kilowatt hours if I remember correctly) provided he buys an equal amount of carbon off sets from a company he himself owns? So, basically buy them from himself? Better still, buy them with money you make from a relationship with a “big oil” firm, like, oh I dunno, Occidental Petroleum? Not that that’s exactly what Algore does.

    @8 And what, exactly, are those benchmarks and standards?

    Aren’t we all smart enough to understand that consensus is not science?

  16. Is Edward’s definition of carbon neutral the same as Algore’s? Use as much energy as I want (221,000 Kilowatt hours if I remember correctly) provided he buys an equal amount of carbon off sets from a company he himself owns? So, basically buy them from himself? Better still, buy them with money you make from a relationship with a “big oil” firm, like, oh I dunno, Occidental Petroleum? Not that that’s exactly what Algore does.

    @8 And what, exactly, are those benchmarks and standards?

    Aren’t we all smart enough to understand that consensus is not science?

  17. It’s definately hitting me – especially when it comes to items being marketed to women. I’m done promoting anything that can’t hold environmental, social and economic benchmarks. Luckily, sustainable consensus standards are in place, it’s just a matter of educating consumers on what is green and what is greenwash.

  18. It’s definately hitting me – especially when it comes to items being marketed to women. I’m done promoting anything that can’t hold environmental, social and economic benchmarks. Luckily, sustainable consensus standards are in place, it’s just a matter of educating consumers on what is green and what is greenwash.

  19. I know Ethan and I am doubtful that he means ‘either/or.’ More than one thing can be ‘cool’ at one time. Indeed, to be truly cool one should be interested in more than one thing.

  20. I know Ethan and I am doubtful that he means ‘either/or.’ More than one thing can be ‘cool’ at one time. Indeed, to be truly cool one should be interested in more than one thing.

  21. I was at TED and felt exactly the same thing. It is smart of you to suggest that this might be a career thought. The environment is an issue on which it is easy to do small things, like switching off the air-conditioning in your hotel room while you’re at the TED conference weeping at a weeping VC, but harder to do bigger things, like not taking that intercontinental flight, or even just switching to scheduled flights …

  22. I was at TED and felt exactly the same thing. It is smart of you to suggest that this might be a career thought. The environment is an issue on which it is easy to do small things, like switching off the air-conditioning in your hotel room while you’re at the TED conference weeping at a weeping VC, but harder to do bigger things, like not taking that intercontinental flight, or even just switching to scheduled flights …

  23. I never thought I’d live to see the day when people put vast amounts of money into finding ways to destroy what plants breathe and think that it’s a noble cause.

    I’d rather take my chances with the alternative, but it looks like they’re deciding for all of us.

  24. I never thought I’d live to see the day when people put vast amounts of money into finding ways to destroy what plants breathe and think that it’s a noble cause.

    I’d rather take my chances with the alternative, but it looks like they’re deciding for all of us.

  25. Yup lots of focus on “green” however many of these green technologies are driven by computers and smart software. This is a very exciting time for computer science we will see tons of innovation because many diverse fields are now pushing its boundaries.

  26. Yup lots of focus on “green” however many of these green technologies are driven by computers and smart software. This is a very exciting time for computer science we will see tons of innovation because many diverse fields are now pushing its boundaries.

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