James Governor's Monkchips

What James Governor Did Next: Energy and Open Source

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I have some plans for 2007.

I will be diversifying my personal portfolio. What does that mean?

It does not mean I am reducing my commitment to RedMonk. Absolutely not. It does mean I am going to be giving some energy to some other things that are really important to me. Small things like – you know, the future of the planet.

I am going to help get a new organisation focused on sustainable mobility and next generation energy-thinking off the ground. I will be doing so on an advisory capacity. Mark Charmer is the guy behind The Movement Design Bureau, ably assisted by his right hand man and unabashed gearhead Joseph Simpson (how many people do you know that have ridden in the Tesla Roadster?). What is the aim of the organisation?

Our aim is to contribute to the re-design of movement – not just as a response to factors such as congestion, environmental damage and political pressures – but because there is scope to do it better.

This isn’t work you can do sitting in a cupboard. Our job involves connecting and engaging with all kinds of people in design, engineering, social and public policy, science, information technology, the arts, investment communities, academia, the media, schools, consumer brands and amongst end users.

Big but important goals. The two of them are now writing what is emerging as an extremely cool blog, rich in analysis and contrarian thinking. I looked around the web and you just won’t find the level of detail and insight about the GM Volt, for example, that you find at Re*Move. Seriously – the depth of knowledge about the design of sustainable mobility is probably what I find most fascinating. Joe and Mark are spending a lot of time with the designers that will shape the future of movement. So why not learn from them. I warn you though the thinking is viral – every thing I read now has a new movement lens. The idea is sticky and Mark is looking to create A Sticking Point.

You want to know how the new Chevrolet Volt works: Read on. Here is part one of the Volt analysis.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me GM has a lot of the same problems IBM did in 1994. If I was the GM board I would be making Louis Gerstner an offer he can’t refuse. I mean can you imagine the kudos for rescuing 2 American Icons – IBM being number one. Mark tells me Gerstner is working with the Carlyle Group now – come on out of the VC shadows Lou, your country’s auto industry needs you…

That’s the charm – I think tech, management, clean energy are closely related concepts that can be leveraged with distributed advisory (open source analysis), and so I can bring something to the table. I strongly believe in open source solutions to tough infrastructure and social problems, which is another reason Mark enlisted me. One of his first projects concerns design solutions for clean water in the developing world, while the attendant blog post shows what a good writer Mark is, and how he groks the new media of abundance and attention management: Why Open Source Marketing Changes Everything. I will sign out with his words, but first let me say that you should subscribe to Re*Move if you’re interested in the future beyond the latest gizmos.

An entire industry – of journalists acting as gatekeepers, of advertising sales executives funding the operation through demand management, of public relations advisors deriving earnings from being well connected and able to package a story in the ‘right’ way has grown around the basic constraint that there is only so much space in which to report stories or advertise.

A major change is going on today driven by the rise of a much broader range of commentary and commentators, and a fragmentation of where people look for information and inspiration. This is driven by user participation online and the explosion in blogging and ‘pro-amateur’ journalism, research and collaboration.


  1. I’m such an obedient boy – subscribed immediately. So, James – does the boss know what you’re up to?

    Interesting stuff – Australia is still fixated on the motor vehicle, and every day most people travel to work in their car, on their own. Car pooling? – doesn’t happen … we certainly need new ways of looking at mobility.

  2. Hey Ric. Yes I told my wife… 😉

    I am currently reading Collapse by Jared Diamond. it has a very interesting chapter on Australia. If you guys got out of Agriculture you’d be in quite good shape. You’re producing an awful lot of methane from cows. meanwhile the figures are CRAZY. something like 80% of agricultural profits come from .8% of the land. Australia should become the first post agriculture economy. then you could worry a bit less about cars. first off you need to stop stripmining your glorious country.

  3. James, Great to hear you’re doing the green thing in some capacity! I, too, am trying to cover more green/clean tech (check out our photo gallery today on pocket-sized solar chargers). Clearly, we need the best and brightest writing/talking/working on environmental matters.

  4. It’s a large country, but very little of it is arable (in percentage terms). As for post-agriculture … we have the potential (and the reasons) to be a knowledge-based nation – we’re in a good time zone for out-of-business-hours work from both the US and Europe, with similar cultural backgrounds (and language) to much of them; we have good reasons to like the idea of remote working (this is a VERY large country, with lots of space between cities), have a reasonable education system (it COULD be heaps better, but compared to many other places it’s good), (strangely) a good work ethic, are technologically savvy, and are generally pretty smart – do we want to start talking about wasted opportunities now? Too few Australians realise that the phrase “The Lucky Country” was sarcasm …

    “your glorious country” – have you seen any of it? Harsh, powerful, majestic, overwhelming at times … incredibly impressive in scale – you couldn’t always call it “beautiful”, but you could always describe it as “moving”.

  5. Oh – and don’t even think of starting me up on water … why somebody thought that growing rice and cotton in the Murray-Darling Basin was a good idea is beyond me. The wine industry isn’t entirely blameless here, but we have done a lot in the last few years to reduce water usage – soil moisture monitoring, deficit-based drip irrigation, using winery waste water for irrigation.

    The biggest problems are usually political – no government wants to be the one to price water at its real value, despite the fact that it would probably be the single most effective decision to drive appropriate water use. And we still think it’s a good idea to flush toilets and water gardens with first-use water – i.e. the same stuff we drink from the tap.

  6. Wait there’s more! When it rains the run-off from suburban streets just runs straight out to sea … ya gotta love it!

    But would I live anywhere else – probably not … I DO love this place. Which just goes to show there’s no zealot like a convert – I was born in Odstock General Hospital, Salisbury, Wiltshire, and I’m real happy about the cricket right now.

  7. James, I wish you the best of luck with this and by osmosis sih I could spend time with you. I know through your commitment, level of enthusiasm and ability you should be able to make a real difference.

    While I’m sure you might not like the comparison, but in many ways you could be another Ralph Nadar. While its easy to knock him, but you can’t fault his commitment.

    Since I moved from the UK I cancelled my Greenpeace Frontline membership and have not re-joined in the US. I remember fondly getting arrested dressed as a cow in Bristol… 😉

  8. we use a 100W solar charger at home to charge lead acid batteries;..

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