pening more quickly than we
imagined just 10 years ago, and
that it will continue in fits and
starts, not sliding up a smooth
hyperbolic curve. We will not
be frogs in the cooking pot. And
we are racing against time.
But if our models are inadequate, how could gathering more
data help? When there is more
data, the holes in our hypotheses
become more apparent. We see
phenomena that a plethora of
data cannot explain. In science,
holes in hypotheses lead to new
questions, new hypotheses, new
science—and when we are fortunate—new understanding and new
capabilities. In a nutshell, that’s
why participatory sensing matters,
and that’s why Gaian IxD should
be bearing down on more and better observation— attentiveness—as
a method that can be expanded
and designed so as to engage more
participants at deeper levels.
the heroes are NSF wonks doing
hardcore science and making
exceedingly bold choices. There
is no time to sit back and ponder
the unintended consequences of
our urgent efforts to address the
unintended consequences of our
activities on Earth. These characters are 21st-century heroes.
Although perhaps not as swashbuckling as Robinson’s crew, interaction designers can make unique
and vital contributions. We can
enable and encourage the kind of
attentiveness that will feed science
and spread Gaian awareness. We
can create representational methods that change minds. We can
galvanize public will to demand
policies and actions that take Gaia
seriously. Through Gaian IxD, we
can take a consequential stand on
what may be the greatest challenge
of our day.
September + October 2011
Take a Stand!
Rain came down where I made my stand
And the cyclone rose with a wave of my
hand—Bruce Hornsby [ 31]
In The Vanishing Face of Gaia
Lovelock’s view has grown pes-
simistic: “…it seems that climate
change can happen faster than
we can respond to it, and it may
be irreversible” [ 32]. Many of us
grow dispirited and fatalistic;
others succumb to denialism
fueled by the media Spectacle.
Some, like me, believe that hope
is the best working hypoth-
esis. Bearing down on Gaian IxD
requires hope and courage.
In his Science in the Capitol trilogy [ 33], Kim Stanley Robinson
takes the reader to a near future
where catastrophic changes are
happening suddenly, as Lovelock
and others have predicted. In
Robinson’s three-book series,
Deepest gratitude to Rob Tow, Sean
White, and Jennifer White for their conversations and invaluable contributions
to my thinking and this article.
1. Morton, M. Ecology without Nature: Rethinking
Environmental Aesthetics. Harvard University press,
boston, MA, 2007.
2. O’Kane, r. Wahoo: The Patrol of America’s Most
Famous WWII Submarine. presidio press, Novato,
3. Laurel, b., Strickland, r., and tow, r.
placeholder: Landscape and narrative in virtual
environments. Computer Graphics 28, 2 (May 1994).
4. campbell, J. Myths to Live By. penguin compass,
New York, 1972.
5. the revolution was televised—but not, in the first
instance, by a central broadcasting model.
6. the Grateful Dead. “Eyes of the World.” Jerry
Garcia (music) and robert Hunter (lyrics), 1973.
7. See Vernadsky, V.I. The Biosphere. complete
annotated edition in English, D.b. Langmuir, trans.
Springer-Verlag, N Y, 1997. In the preface to Gaia
(1979), Lovelock referred to the failure of most in
the West to recognize Vernadsky’s contribution as
8. Lovelock, J.E. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth.
Oxford University press, Oxford, England, 1979, 11.
9. Margulis, L. Symbiotic Planet: A New View of
Evolution. basic books, NY, 1998.
10. rob tow, personal conversations.
11. rae and charles Eames. Powers of Ten. Film based
on book by Kees boeke, Cosmic View: The Universe in
40 Jumps. John Day co., princeton, NJ, 1957.
12. both Vladimir Vernadsky and teilhard de
chardin used the term, “noösphere.” De chardin’s
is evidently the first published use in a 1922 paper
13. Johnson, t. Exercises in spirituality. White Crane
Journal 31 ( Winter 1997).
14. See [ 1], p. 2.
15. See [ 1], p. 27.
16. Lopez, b. Landscape and narrative. In Crossing
Open Ground. Vintage, New York, 1968.
17. rudman, W.F. Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum:
How Humans Took Control of Climate. princeton
University press, princeton, NJ, 2007.
18. barry Lopez, personal correspondence.
19. barry Lopez, Salon at california college of the
Arts, San Francisco, cA, Oct. 7, 2010.
20. White, S., Feiner, S., and Kopylec, J. Virtual
vouchers: prototyping a mobile augmented reality
user interface for botanical species identifica-tion. Proc. of. IEEE Symp. on 3D User Interfaces
(Alexandria, VA, Mar. 25–26, 2006).
23. http://www. miraikan.jst.go.jp/en/sp/tsunagari/
26. Life http://www.eol.org/
27. National Geographic News, Oct. 28,
28. Estrin, D. participatory sensing: From eco-
systems to human systems. big thinkers Event.
Yahoo!, (Mar. 6, 2011).
31. “the cyclone,” music and lyrics by bruce
32. Lovelock, J.E. The Vanishing Face of Gaia. basic
books, New York, 2009, 12.
33. robinson, K.S. Forty Signs of Rain (2004) Fifty
Degrees Below (2005), and Sixty Days and Counting
(2007) Spectra, New York.
© 2011 AcM 1072-5220/11/09 $10.00