Sunday, April 23, 2006

Unintentional irony and lost opportunities
The big blogs who get advertising through Blogads have a new ad up today. The ad copy reads:
World oil production is about to peak, so prices are headed even higher... On April 27-29 join over 50 experts in NYC to explore how to break America's oil addiction. Local Solutions to the Energy Dilemma.

Allow me to rewrite their copy.
World oil production is about to peak, changing every aspect of our lifestyle... On April 27-29 hop in your car or get on a plane and come halfway across the country to join over 50 experts in NYC talking about how to use less oil.

Don't get me wrong, this might be a very interesting and productive conference. However, mightn't this have have been a great opportunity to experiment with some alternate form of confrencing. It doen't have to be the dreaded audio and video confrencing that telecommunication and software companies keep trying to sell businesses. They might organize individual panels as mini-confrences around the country allowing people to attend the closest one. They could link the parts into a whole through innovative use of streaming video and blogging. It would be easy enough to set up some temporary, pay-per-view websites to allow some people to attend and participate from home or school. Keeping with their title of local solutions, the mini-confrences could break away to hold sessions on genuinely local concerns.

Peak oil doesn't mean civilization is doomed. What it does mean, is that we need to change our habits and use a little imagination. As during any change, certain businesses will decline, but others will find new opportunities and flourish. Even the collapse ofthe Roman Empire created employment for body guards and mercenaries. I spent all of five minutes thinking about this. I'm sure that, if someone actually spent some time on it, they could improve the idea greatly.* There's probably a business opportunity for someone to facilitate this kind of thing, so conferences don't have to reinvent the system every time. They could provide some tools and software, maybe the temporary websites and transaction processing, to make it pay. Someone might already be doing it.

Before we can get anywhere on a problem like peak oil, the people who are setting themselves up as our leaders on the issue need to--oh, I don't know--lead.

* And, if you make a million dollars on it, I get half.

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