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Google Wave Is Better For The Environment June 16, 2009

Posted by Ivan Pols in design, interactive, technology.
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Google Wave is the future of networked communication. Well, maybe. If a lot of people embrace the technology and make it common place. There are lots of barriers though, fear of a new interface, businesses where most people use e-mail like software are slow to change and sheer laziness because e-mail is “good enough”. There’s lots of talk about the potential of Google Wave Apps and work flow but I had an interesting thought about a very practical side-effect of Google Wave and a great reason to adopt this software. It’s good for the environment.

I will be upfront and admit that my math is awful and I’m taking a few liberties with my knowledge of complex systems. Please forgive any mistakes.


E-mail is an old system. It involves sending packets of information from one server to another. From one hard drive to another hard drive. Each person keeps a copy of their mail and the response. If multiple people are copied on an e-mail, like all business correspondence, then each person has a copy of every response on their hard drive. So if 8 people have a 30 mail conversation about an internal project, there are 240 copies of pieces of the conversation on 8 machines or inboxes. In my office, we all “reply with history” so people can keep track of where we were in the conversation. Even one word answers. At 1MB average per mail (history adds up), that’s 240MB of replicated data sitting on hard drives. If your company is like mine, 20 exchanges about a project over several months is not unheard of. That’s 4.68GB of replicated data on one company’s servers. A medium size company might have 100 projects a year like this. That’s 468.75GB a year. That’s not including video files, images, PPT documents and the other goodies that need sharing. Which is why Google decided to re-look e-mail I suppose.


Google Wave is different to e-mail. At it’s simplest there is only one copy of the conversation on the company server. The 8 users would access the mail but it would be a common document. There is no replication of the history of the conversation. There is a history time line function, but that’s simply a memory of what came when. So if the same 30 part conversation as the e-mail example had to happen and 1MB of history was accumulated, there would only be 1MB stored on the server instead of 240MB. With 20 conversations about a project over several months there would be 20MB of data stored versus 4.68GB. At 100 projects a year, the company would have to find space for 2GB of Wave storage versus the 468.75GB of e-mail. That’s 0.426% of the data storage needs of e-mail.

E-mail vs Google Wave

Even with 20 times more Wave data, it would still only be 40GB (8.5%). Let’s assume Google Wave only manages to cut 90% of the replication data of e-mail, that’s still 90% fewer servers and 90% less energy consumption (simplistically). I think it’ll be much better than that. Fewer hard drives means less toxic landfill and fewer raw materials used. Fewer servers means less stress on the power grid. The software makes a smaller carbon footprint that anything before it.

I have no idea if Google planned this, but by reconsidering e-mail they have saved themselves some cash and become better world citizens. Google runs giant server farms around the world and as they expand their services I assume they need to increase their cloud storage ability, basically lots of servers. By changing to their own Wave software they could bring their own voracious resource needs under control. Its good business for Google, and the rest of us, to spend less on technical infrastructure.

I work for a large multinational advertising company. We share hundreds of thousands of video files, documents, images and text every day. We could cut our e-mail carbon footprint by up to 99% by simply changing to e-mail software that is Open Source. That’s incredible. I wish it were that simple at a global corporate level, the system hates change, but there’s a better way to work on its way and its time to plan for an upgrade.

I would encourage everybody who cares about the environment and good software to bring this to the attention of their companies (it’s Open Source, they can customise for their own needs) and use it at home. Perhaps my math is vastly incorrect, but I doubt it’s 99.5% wrong.

Download the PDF chart

UPDATE: It has subsequently occurred to me that I failed to factor in the Google Wave time line functionality (what that does is capture each state of the Wave so that you can go back in time to see how it unfolded, grew, edited etc.) I suppose each state would require a total save of the e-mail, so it wouldn’t be a 95% saving of space, it would be something like:

1 Wave (1MB) x 30 Updates x 8 Recipients (1 copy) = 30MB per Wave

1 E-mail (1MB) x 30 Updates x 8 Recipients = 240MB per exchange

Which shows Google Wave would use about 12.5% of the hard drive storage of E-mail (not 0.43%).


Moritz Waldemeyer Will Light You Up December 18, 2008

Posted by Ivan Pols in animation, art, design, games, technology.
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Moritz Waldemeyer is a technical designer from East Germany with a penchant for LEDs, Crystals and Lasers. He’s built custom gadgetry for Swarovski, Chalayan, Arad & Troika. Moritz has created tables with built in LED games like Ping Pong and Roulette that look and act beautifully.


I’ve done some research into projected image interactive pieces which always look clunky but these built in LEDs are awesome. Mr Waldemeyer is already famous but I think his influence on mass communications is about to become gigantic. This man has managed to hack solutions to designer dreams and execute them with style. He also has a sense of humour. It’s a pity so much of his work is almost impossible to photograph well, however, this little reading list should educate you quite quickly on the state of the art.

This is a sampler of his work.

Click here to see his excellent “Readings” dresses that he did for H Chalayan.
Ping Pong Table
Roulette Table
Go OK Stage Costumes
Operation Game

Official Waldemeyer Website

The Density of DJ Technology September 19, 2008

Posted by Ivan Pols in culture, music, technology, video.
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DJ, Richie Hawton, has offered up a video tutorial on his technique involving a piece of software named Traktor. He runs 4 decks simultaneously with multiple loop and sampling potential on top of that. He explains how the computer takes care of all the timing so he can experiment, and collaborate with at least 4 other DJs. It’s dense layering, but I think it’s interesting how technology has helped him explore his art more thoroughly. On the other hand, the tools can have the habit of playing the operator, which can kill the joy of the mistake and create the cult of same. That’s just something I’ve noticed with design and the proliferation of Adobe CS. Same tools, similar outcomes, unless you fight with everything you have. The best DJs will avoid that bullet is my guess.

Viva Originals. Watch the video here (Vimeo is still not supported by WordPress. Tut tut.)

via PSFK

Fun With Colors! April 2, 2008

Posted by Ivan Pols in art, drawing, ivan pols, technology.
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Rattlesnake Choir

I’m a bit of a drawing geek. I love to scratch away and make messes of people and places. And it’s all become a bit more portably digital. The Nintendo DS is a fantastic little machine, made all the more fantastic by the fact that it comes with a pressure sensitive drawing screen. Usually this is used for games like Zelda where you can use the stylus to move and fight. Instead, I can now hang out in a bar and draw with a palette of thousands of colours. I’m using the HomeBrew solution CycloDSevolution and Colors! freeware. The setup costs about as much as a DS ($120 for a MicroSD card and the Cyclo) but once you have the thing hacked, the DS suddenly becomes incredibly useful beyond gaming. You can play the drawing process as a movie file and e-mail the images via the built in wifi (which strangely generates a bigger image than I pull off the DS itself!)

Colors! And check out the galleries of other users as well.

The bad drawings are of the Rattlesnake Choir.


I have a question: Why is it that when I take the PNG image file directly from the memory card its 128kb and small. But when I e-mail it to myself through the Colors! site, it becomes a 786kb file that’s 200% bigger? 

Is Dripbook Aptly Named? December 5, 2007

Posted by Ivan Pols in articles, comment, design, dripbook, portfolio, presentation, technology, virb.
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I’m updating this blog post after a few e-mails with Dripbook. They are a group of people trying very hard to make an excellent service. Most of my reasons for writing this post could have been dealt with better communication on their website. I suppose that’s been done by now.

Photographers, illustrators, hair stylists etc are typically a little crap at keeping their websites maintained, if they exist at all. I appreciate any efforts to help these busy creative people show their work to the world. Dripbook is one of those efforts. I found out about them through a comment in one of the Virb art groups and Mashable have written about them too. I’ll check anything out and it seemed like a good project. Easy portfolio tools combined with a social network aspect to help you connect and promote. So I sent them an application. I had to apply because… they’re pulling the exclusivity card as a marketing stunt really. I said I’m handsome and make nice work and sent them my portfolio site (ironically). Thank goodness I was let in or my street cred would have collapsed like an underfed model. The feature I wanted to explore was their ability to publish to third party sites. Widgets that create a bit of code that refers to your dynamically updated portfolio instead of you having to create the books on your own site. I use viewbook.com for a site I built for a photographer which does that exactly. Unfortunately I never did get to trying that feature.

Most of Dripbook is fine even if it’s a bit dull in the design stakes (a web 2.0 phenomenon apparently). The upload of images was easy enough, the networking idea is a good one. After I uploaded I found that my images came out looking soft. Which is odd considering they were sized down for web use and were sharp, black and white images when they left my desktop. Even that I could figure out given enough patience. My irritation is that the site is not recognizing that I have “published” a book of drawings. It says it’s published. But it’s not visible to anyone else it seems. I’ve tried every “publish” button three times and now I’m bored. If you can’t publish, you can’t promote and then the social network is useless.

Turns out that because I put a “Mature” marker on my book because it contained drawn nudity, I encountered a legal fix:

You followed the instructions exactly and did exactly what you were supposed to do. When a user goes to look at your book, he / she is asked whether he / she wants to look at mature content. Then a cookie is places on that user’s computer, and the warning does not show up again.

 A fact that would have been good to know a few days ago.

Not wanting to spend any more time on the site I figured that I’d cancel my hard won account and focus my efforts on other tasks, like my real job. Except I can’t find anywhere to cancel, suspend, deactivate, kill my account. Really. I’ve looked pretty hard. The FAQ neatly ignores the fact that anyone would be brazen enough to leave their services. I wonder what happens when you buy a premium account ($9 per month)?

Dripbook have informed me that they hadn’t got to that detail yet.  It’ll be done now.

Dripbook is in Beta phase which may excuse any screw ups and my decision to leave their site is based on a few personal impressions, not only some basic technical glitches. The site is slow, I don’t like their presentation options and I don’t like their design.

I‘d leave, but I can’t.

ps. Turns out that no one had ever asked to leave. I have that dubious honour. My apologies, Dripbook, for being that guy.

 I have been deleted. After the short e-mail chat with Dripbook I appreciate that I was rather harsh on their Beta site. I only wish they had been a bit more forthcoming with how Beta they were. I mean, who doesn’t have a delete account button?  If you think I was a putz let the comments fly.

Where Are You On The Social Network Map? July 30, 2007

Posted by Ivan Pols in advertising, articles, culture, documentary, myspace, social network, technology, valleywag.
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World Map of Social Networks

Valleywag have done an amazing job assembling the data of who uses what to stay in contact with whom. If that made no sense, go to the article and see who’s winning the Facebook, Friendster, Myspace wars. Perhaps it’s Orkut? This is definitely a great tool for choosing your social network platform (a choice that either means you have friends or you live in a social desert). I find it heartening to know that one social network system does not dominate the earth. In fact, anyone talking net domination is speaking to their own blog echo.


ps. Yes, there are more networks in the world than those mentioned in the article, but I think they were going for market domination, not a total breakdown.

The Viral Palette July 9, 2007

Posted by Ivan Pols in advertising, articles, blog, comment, culture, design, film, free, funny, games, geek, ivan pols, media, news, portfolio, presentation, statistics, technology, trash, viral, writing, youtube.

One of the problems that Marketers are concerned with is how do they maintain Brand Values while trying to maximise reach with Viral Media. They’re uncomfortable with the stunty craziness associated with YouTube but realise they can’t miss out on the opportunity. What do they do?

I’m going to bust the misconception that you need to be off strategy and whacky in order to get millions of people interested in your content. In fact, the most viewed, most memorable corporate content is all about brand strategy and brand values. You have to have something to say, why not say what you believe in?

Instead of talking about the sociological theories of viral media or showing a powerpoint slide with the “marketing approach” shopping list (which only provides the illusion of brand control) I’ll show some examples and do a quick precis of what I believe they do. This is by no means an exhaustive list of options but I’ll try to cover the main bases.

How do you get people to pass along your message? Here’s what worked for a few brands.

Take a Stand

A couple of guys jump an airport fence under cover of darkness and tag “Still Free” onto the fuselage of Airforce One. It’s a political statement. Well, it’s a corporate political statement. Marc Ecko and Droga 5 decided to make a film that embodies the spirit of the Ecko clothing label: The Art of Street Graffiti, Freedom of Speech (Ecko had sued New York City over the right to a graffiti competition) and champion of the youth. The sheer audacity of the prank meant it spread like wildfire. Ecko quickly (nearly the next day) explained why they did it in a statement from the owner himself where he mentions all of his Ecko properties. He did it for the kids of America, because he believes it’s the right thing to do, because it creates an altruistic brand character for people who sell t-shirts to kids from the hood and the burbs. They claim nearly 80 Million views.

Buy the Still Free t-shirt
Read about the Still Free Game
The Marc Ecko Brand
Still Free Official Site

Cannes Cyber Grand Prix 2006


Jonathan Ives – Q&A July 5, 2007

Posted by Ivan Pols in art, articles, culture, design, presentation, research, technology.
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Apple Cube

The British Design Museum have a cool Q&A with Jonathan Ives. If you don’t know who I’m referring too, look at your iPod, your iMac, your Powerbook, your Apple TV… He is the Senior VP of Design at Apple and was the design force behind the resurgence of Apple. Interestingly he was not hired when Steve Jobs returned to the fray but by the former regime. I’m glad he stuck around because, even though it was a little buggy at times, I loved my Cube.

I thought his reasoning for joining Apple is interesting:

“One of my reasons for joining Apple had been a frustration associated with consulting. Working externally made it difficult to have a profound impact on product plans and to truly innovate. By the time you had accepted a commission so many of the critical decisions had already been made. Increasingly I had also come to believe that to do something fundamentally new requires dramatic change from many parts of an organisation.”

I often pull my hair out when presented with a brief for a product that needed intervention about 2 years before I see it.

Have a read over your coffee.

Creative Review / Blog May 17, 2007

Posted by Ivan Pols in advertising, art, articles, blog, comment, design, drawing, fashion, film, illustration, images, media, news, photography, posters, technology, video, writing.
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