Visible Storage: the Transparent Museum

Antwerp’s latest museum, the MAS, opened its doors recently: and opened its storage room.

One of the more interesting features (aside from the iconic architecture) of the building is that the storage spaces are publicly viewable. One level of the towering 10-story building houses countless antiquities behind wire cages – It’s a fascinating peek into the behind-the-scenes of a museum’s collection. Transparency communicated through public space: Priceless artifacts are tagged and neatly stacked into impressively small spaces. An interesting contrast to the typical endless white walls of typical public-facing museum spaces.

The transparency of an organization begins with opening its ‘archives’.

The Inside Lives of Fruits and Vegetables

Less of a background story…but more of an internal story: the internal stories of fruits and vegetables. (So this is what MRI scan operators do on their lunch breaks!)

Magnetic resonance data made visual in a beautiful way. If only companies and political organizations were so transparent.

MRI scan

Food Tracability: Article

By this Washington Post article, it appears food traceability is set to go main-stream.

The opportunities for communicating the social and environmental sustainability behind such foods are huge. It’s fascinating how it may be the food safety concerns that drive us toward opening to transparency. – Once those doors are open, so many additional communication possibilities exist.

These ideas for the food system are also good validation for the TraceProduct.Info project I initiated as part of an Art(ists) on the Verge fellowship.  More info on the project here.

systems for food tracability

Graphic from the Washington Post

See Behind the Scenes at Västra Hamnen

Come visit the parascope to ‘see behind’ into the sustainability systems in the Västra Hamnen area of Malmö. The installation is accessible today through Monday Dec. 13 [map]. The project was done as part of a artist-residency at MEDEA Collaborative Research Initiative in Sweden. More information here.

The parascope itself was developed by a collaboration between Unsworn Industries and Malmö Stad.

View the sustainability systems behind-the-scenes of Vastra Hamnen, Malmo


I, Pencil – A Sustainability Story From 1958

I, Pencil by Leonard Read, is an essay on the life cycle of a pencil. Written in a way that references all the strings attached and people involved in the back-story of this simple, everyday object; this story is an excellent text to tie products to global social and environmental concerns. And it was written in 1958.

“Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation, no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others.”

I, Pencil is referenced in this TED talk by Matt Ridley about the collective effort that leads to innovation,

The Eco-Savings of File Transfer

An Earth Day Campaign by online service calculates the savings of using digital file sharing vs. printing, burning CDs and shipping.

Though a bit of a stretch to calculate environmental impacts in this fashion, it’s always good to see dynamically-calculated details on your own impacts (and those of all users of a service).

Yousendit earthday campaign calculations

Earth Day Campaign

campaign to calculate sustainablity savings


Year in Numbers

A local cafe has compiled a somewhat-visual depiction of their activities over the year. The focus is on communicating data as it relates to the sustainability initiatives of the cafe.
Read more

Linking Everyday Gestures with Digital Details

Pranav Mistry combines standard, everyday gestures with digital information. His solutions -which include the SixthSense wearable computer – have potential to bring real transparency into sustainability, and enable people to literally immerse themselves in their own ecological footprints. Read more

Carbon Footprinting Transit

Twin Cities Metro Transit now links carbon footprint data with bus schedules when you plan a trip online.

Carbon Footprint Calculator

Carbon Footprint Calculator

Public transit reduces carbon footprint

Public transit reduces carbon footprint

The  website averages bus CO2 emissions over the distance of your journey to show the visitor what positive impact they can contribute (in terms of carbon saved) for each public-transit journey made.

This is a great tool to help consumers understand the impact they have as an individual – even if the results are a bit ambiguous (it’s highly doubtful that most consumers understand what 6.2 lbs of CO2 means – and unfortunately no comparison is provided to help them put it into context).

Tracing A Box’s Life

Colombia Sportswear is asking you to ‘Consider the box’ with their project: A Box Life. A Box Life brings awareness to an often-overlooked part of mail-order products’ life-cycles: the packaging.

Box life transparently tracks the back-stories of where boxes have traveled.

Box life transparently tracks the back-stories of where boxes have traveled.

Not only is it a clever way to encourage people to reuse packing materials, but telling the stories behind the travels of things also acts as a tool for transparency, and reminds consumers of how individual actions impact sustainability.

read more: Springwise