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World Without Oil – alternative reality game

What’s Going On Here?

WORLD WITHOUT OIL is an alternate reality event, a serious game for the public good.

It invites everyone to help simulate a global oil shock. People participate by contributing original online stories, created as though the oil shock were really happening.

The game’s masters rank the participants (“players”) according to their contributions to our realistic portrayal of the oil shock. The game also places value on player-created communities, collaborative stories, and collective efforts.

Each contribution helps the game arrive at a larger truth. No team of experts knows better than a given individual what effect an oil shock would have upon that individual’s life, or what action he or she will take to cope. Personal reactions to our simulated oil shock, placed in context with many other points of view, will help us all realize what’s at stake in our oil-fired culture.


WORLD WITHOUT OIL aims to help fill a huge gap in our nation’s thinking about oil and the economy. As people everywhere grapple with the problem of growing global demand for petroleum, no one has a clear picture of oil availability in the future, nor is there a clear picture of what will happen when demand inevitably outstrips supply. That will depend in large part upon how well people prepare, cooperate, and collectively create solutions. By playing it out in a serious way, the game aims to apply collective intelligence and imagination to the problem in advance, and to create a record that has value for educators, policymakers, and the common people to help anticipate the future and prevent its worst outcomes. “Play it, before you live it.”

The team at Writerguy is producing WORLD WITHOUT OIL, ITVS Interactive (Independent Television Service) is presenting it, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is funding it. An Independent Lens Web-exclusive presentation (PBS), WORLD WITHOUT OIL is an ELECTRIC SHADOWS project (ITVS).
(May 2007)
Above text is from the What page on the website. Coverage in the press:
O’Reilly Radar
San Jose Mercury News
SF Weekly
Press release

Project Budburst: Springtime Citizen Science

Sarah Rich, WorldChanging
When I was growing up, we used to be able to time the moment our crabapple trees would burst into bloom in near-perfect synchrony with the arrival of my late April birthday. Fortunately, my parents don’t need to see flowers in order to remember the day, because the blossoms have started to come out early. This kind of observation may seem somewhat trivial — a small-scale, personal reminder that the climate’s changing — but it is just the kind of observation that Project Budburst wants people submitting to their citizen science field campaign.

Project Budburst is having its first test run this spring, with a 10-week pilot program gathering phenological data from around the U.S. They’re hoping in particular to collect information on the leafing and flowering of native species, but since the season is well underway, they’re also looking at time of “full flower, end flower, and seed and fruit dispersal.” The aggregated regional observations will form a nationwide measuring stick for the rate and impact of climate change on plant species.

You can participate in the citizen science project by submitting observations from your own neighborhood or region online.
(11 May 2007)

Craigslist Founder: People Who Run Printing Presses ‘Screwed’

Jennifer Saba, Editor & Publisher
You have to hand it to Craig Newmark, founder of the wildly successful classified site Craigslist, for telling it like it is to an audience of newspaper publishers.

Newmark, along with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and talk show host Charlie Rose, opened the Newspaper Association of America’s annual convention here in New York City this morning.

Newmark fielded questions from Rose pertaining to Craigslist’s rise to prominence, mainly at the expense of newspapers. The mostly free classified site, which covers such categories as real estate, help wanted, personals, and general merchandise, has been taking important classified dollars away from newspapers. The site claims over 7 billion hits a month worldwide.

But Newmark doesn’t feel guilty about the ongoing shift of classified dollars away from the medium. While he is a champion of more investigative reporting in newspapers — which he admits costs money to fund — he wasn’t going to let the crowd boo-hoo about revenue woes. He deftly mentioned newspapers’ high profit margins — somewhere in the ballpark of 10% to 20% — as proof there is plenty of money to feed investigative journalism and the newsroom. “I don’t understand what the problem is,” he said.

“People like Helen Thomas need backup,” he said.

Newmark told an all-too-knowing audience that this is a time of “creative destruction” and that he has a “great deal of sympathy for people who run the printing presses. They are screwed.” It’s not that journalism is becoming obsolete; rather the delivery methods are changing: “Even the kids realize news is important. The problem is paper is too expensive,” he said.

…He told the crowd to start taking cues from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert who hold politicians and lobbyists to the fire. “We should see the equivalent of that in newspapers,” Newmark instructed adding that he also listens to NPR, reads the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, watches CNN, has a “bizarre fascination with Keith Olbermann” and checks in with blogs like Gawker and the Huffington Post.

When asked by one audience member if he were to start a newspaper today what would it look like, Newmark said, “I haven’t really thought about it.” He did say it would involved lots of investigative reporting in “big areas,” would be Web friendly and easy to print out.
(7 May 2007)
Newmark rightly sees the tremendous changes that are now taking place in the media – changes which spell opportunity for those able to take advantage of them. Some possible directions:

  • Low overhead web publications which focus on specialized content.
  • Funding models which draw upon a loyal readership and “respectful” advertising.
  • Local publications (low-overhead successors to the smalltown newspaper)

If mainstream publications are unable to come to terms with peak oil and sustainability, then there is a niche for more nimble alternative media. -BA

Videojug May Just Help Save The World

Randy White, Lawns to Gardens
As people become more peak oil aware, the vast amount of knowledge needed to be acquired once seemed an impossible mission. With Videojug, even the most ignorant person with an Internet connection can learn how to do just about anything.

Once, I was wrought with despair regarding Peak Oil. With so many people on earth unable to engage in self sufficiency, I would worry that not enough people would be able to learn how to live differently as energy declines. I am feeling a LOT better today now that there is a kick ass, world saving, knowledge sharing resource to teach people how to deal with Peak Oil. I am, of course, speaking about Videojug.

I knew it would only be a matter of time before a “How To” video site would crop up (I tried to start my own), and it couldn’t have come at a better time. As people become more peak oil aware, the vast amount of knowledge needed to be acquired once seemed an impossible mission. With Videojug, even the most ignorant person with an Internet connection can learn how to do just about anything.

Need to know how to grow potatoes? DONE!
Save energy in your house? NO PROBLEMO!

I just can’t say enough about the potential of on demand learning – and it’s FREE! As long as the quality of the information remains consistent and non-helpful videos are filtered out, Videojug promises to be a surefire way to help people learn what they need to know.

Best of luck to you… I know I’ll be busy watching, learning, and contributing to this fantastic knowledge base.

I am not affiliated with Videojug in any way, but I will be telling every person I know about it.
(8 May 2007)
Another discovery from the energetic Randy White of the Portland Peak Oil Task Force. -BA