UK Web Focus

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Thoughts About Dopplr and the Environment

Posted by Brian Kelly on 7 July 2009

The Doppler serviceI’ve been using Dopplr for a couple of years now, and have used it to keep a record of my substantial work trips over the last three years.

Wikipedia describes the service as “a free social networking service, launched in 2007 that allows users to create itineraries of their travel plans and spot correlations with their contacts’ travel plans in order to arrange meetings at any point on their journey“.

Although there is a social aspect for the service (I can share my trips with others) the aspect which is of particular interest to me is the way it can be used to the carbon costs of one’s trips.

Dopplr display of my carbon usage

Could we envisage a future in which institutions are required to account for the carbon emissions associated with travel by members of staff, with targets for reducing the amounts? And possibly the contracts for JISC-funded projects could require projects to report on the carbon costs of the travel associated with project-funded activities.

If this did happen I hope that rather than developing an application for aggregating such data from scratch, the potential of existing services, such as Dopplr, was explored. And this is something we can be doing now. Now although I know I can share this information with others, I wonder if I can export the carbon data (which is created by the AMEE service) for use by other applications?  And what about the traveller’s individual sensitivities? We can appreciate why one might not wish information about futiure trips to be made publicly available (so opportunistic burglars can’t find out when your home might be empty) but what about the carbon costs? Is this something we should be more open about (as the general public expect MPs to be with their expenses claim)? And if so, who will be the first?

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5 Responses to “Thoughts About Dopplr and the Environment”

  1. I think it’s just one instance of the power of dashboards – when you can see what you’re doing, you can act on it, whether it’s home energy consumption, carbon footprint, or anything else that you can quantify and display. Tools like Google Power Meter will increasingly bring these sorts of displays in front of consumers.

  2. […] Thoughts About Dopplr and the Environment […]

  3. One of the troubles with services like Dopplr is that they tend to encourage a mentality that doing lots of travel is some kind of badge of honour. I think there’s a lot of room for individual responsibility here – it’s not necessarily an institutional responsibility to measure the travel impact of its member – why can’t we do it as individuals?

    I remember someone on Twitter a while back showing off about how much travel they had done, noting that they were close to some very large threshold of miles in a particular month and asking what they should do (presumably to cross the threshold). I responded with, “do less travel”… :-)

    But I know I’m no better or worse than anyone else. If I get an invite to speak somewhere nice, I usually accept without thinking too hard :-( Luckily it doesn’t happen often with me.

    How about we all turn down the next keynote invite we get that involves flying on the basis that it really doesn’t matter that much whether we turn up or not and that someone local can probably do it better anyway?

    No, it’s not going to happen is it!? We’re all to vain to actually worry about the environment that much :-(.

  4. s/member/members/

  5. […] It is only very rarely that I will update my Facebook status. However some time ago I installed the Dopplr app which automatically updates my Facebook wall with details of trips which I have taken (I’ve previously described the reasons I’ve used Dopplr). […]

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