#AGU14 Wednesday

Sometimes the days feel like weeks at the AGU Fall Meeting, but we have all made it through hump day!

This morning, Kimmie Bowen (Dr. G‘s student) and I wandered around the Education section of the poster hall and talked to a whole row of undergrad researchers/scientists doing some pretty amazing things under their research advisors and grants from organizations like NASA!

After the poster presentation, I networked with a couple AGU staffers – Ali Branscombe and Kara (Smedley) Rodean, who are in charge of student programs at AGU. I have been e-mailing with them for a few months prior to the meeting, and Kara since last year, so I was happy to spend some time with them outside the screen!

Kimmie and I went around the Exhibit Hall again, and stopped by the AGU Marketplace to see Dr. G (Laura Guertin) at her “Ask the Expert” couch-side chat where she helped explain social media to the scientists who stopped by! She said most of them needed help with Twitter.

The keynote speaker today was Dr. Kathryn Sullivan – 1st American woman in space – and currently the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (since March 2014) and NOAA Administrator (since Feb. 2013). Check out my tweets below for tid-bits from the lecture:

She knows that NOAA is doing a good job, but wants to do better. Throughout the talk, she continually referenced building resilient communities through more reports from NOAA. Sullivan ended her lecture with hope that scientists can work together to figure everything out, with more access to information and better weather/climate monitoring.

My last event was the Social Media Forum hosted by AGU and the National Association of Science Writers. The panel was full of superstar social media gurus: Andrew Freedman, senior climate reporter for MashableSarah Horst, earth and planetary scientist at Johns HopkinsLaura Helmuth, science editor at Slate, Scott Horvath, web and social media chief for USGS, and Allen Pope of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The supergroup answered questions from the audience and had general conversations about best practices for social media.

Here are some tweets from the event. Nicky Ouellet is another grad student in my program who is attending AGU as press!

I also finally got to meet some of my fellow student volunteer live-tweeters!

I’ll leave you with my most popular tweet of the day. Follow me on Twitter for more!

Backpacker Magazine: 1st Month Update

For those of you who don’t know, I’m interning at Backpacker Magazine this summer in Boulder, Colorado. Since it’s been a little more than a month, I figured I’d give you an update!

My daily tasks include writing web articles (which can be seen on my new stories page), posting to various social media platforms, creating content on the website, and producing content on the website. I also work on website testing and ebook development! So far, I love it, and never want to leave the magazine world again. My favorite part is working with the ebooks and writing the news articles – it’s sort of like blogging!

Last week, I took the week off to go on vacation with my sister (which I will show on the blog next week). My superior, Trent, looked through the photos from my trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and chose this one to feature on the Facebook and Twitter.

Charlotte heading up the Dunes
Charlotte heading up the Dunes

Check out my sister Charlotte taking the sand-sled up to the top of the dunes! Stay tuned for more photos for that trip!

Earth Week 2014 Monday: Green Internet

Happy Earth Week! In celebration of Earth Day tomorrow, I am dedicating each post this week to an environmental issue or an explanation of something related to Earth Day.

Today’s topic is a green/sustainable internet. I came across this issue when a Greenpeace petition popped up on my Twitter feed about greening the internet.

Greenpeace’s “Clicking Clean” white paper/fact sheet issued in April 2014 gives explains that internet data centers, like those of Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn are using fossil fuels to power their data centers and therefore contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

Everything that you pin on Pinterest, tweet on Twitter, post on Tumblr and share on LinkedIn is somewhere on a server somewhere. Did you ever think about that? Everything on the internet is backed up on a server somewhere – so can you imagine how many servers exist?

Also according to the “Clicking Clean” findings, some major cloud companies, including Apple, Facebook and Google, have committed to a renewable energy goal. These three companies are constantly mentioned as the three who are committed to making the most difference and showing signs of early change. However, they cite Amazon as the company with the “dirtiest” servers.

Below: Greenpeace made a “scorecard” chart for each company.

There is a website called CleanBits which provides a list of carbon neutral web hosts. A green-internet blog supports efforts such as these and believes that the rapidly expanding internet needs to mitigate itself to help.

A Computer Society paper by Conte and Mao was published in 2013 that states some of the same findings: information technology (aka internet stuffs) is responsible for 4 percent of the world’s energy usage, and with more internet in more places (and more of the internet being used) this is only going get worse).

What’s the take-away? That we are using too much internet. This sounds familiar – doesn’t it? We are using too much of everything, and sometimes it doesn’t seem like it can be fixed very easily. I would argue that this problem can be helped with alternative energy, and lucky for us, alternative energy is on the rise.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on Earth Day 2014!

The End of Net Neutrality (and Why It’s Important)

“Net Neutrality”.

One of those buzzwords you have been hearing on the news the last couple of weeks. But what does it mean?

I’m going to take a quick break from my environmental posts to talk about this, since it is so important to many Americans, even though you might not know exactly whats going on.

The definition of net neutrality is basically that the internet companies must be neutral in what kind of content people consume on the internet in terms of payment plans. With net neutrality in place, the internet companies cannot charge more for people to stream Netflix, for example, but have to allow all types of content consumption (video streaming, e-mail, social media, news) the same price (which is usually just the internet price you pay from your provider).

However, it is not only based on price – with net neutrality in place, it means that all  internet service providers must give all connection types, locations, devices, and purpose the same quality of service and the same priority of service.

Last week, the courts ruled against it – meaning the companies could have full rein to change payment tiers and charge more per month (on top of internet charges) for different services. Check out this infographic from Buzzfeed (from a Reddit user) for an example of what the internet COULD be:

The courts ruled against it, but that doesn’t mean it’s over – yet. Popular Science reports that since this decision was because of “weak legal footing”, the case could be taken to the Supreme Court.

Killing net neutrality will kill internet expression and information. Social media streaming may be free, but that means that I couldn’t click on news stories from Twitter or Facebook. E-mail may be cheap per 500 mb, but myself and others check their e-mail way more often than that. And of course, video streaming will cost more, meaning people will have to pay for their base internet, the actual streaming service (between $8 and $12 a month) and another fee for being able to watch it. The FCC better watch out – you don’t mess with people’s Netflix and get away with it. Popular Science explains it this way:

They could also force some sites to load slower than others if they haven’t agreed to increased fees, meaning your Internet service could work fine while reading a news site but suddenly grind to a near halt when you switch over to, say, a video on Buzzfeed.

To put it in perspective, let’s use my internet usage as an example. Daily, I check my e-mail about 10 times (or more), browse Twitter/Facebook and Instagram/Tumblr, read about 20 news stories, work on a story for my blog, stream music for studying, and do countless Google searches. Weekly, I do all of those things, on top of watching a few episodes of something on Netflix, checking my queue on Hulu and ordering something from Amazon. For all of this activity, I would be expected to pay over $70 PER MONTH on top of a regular plan.

As you can see, this will be a hindrance to many people, and some petitions have already popped up. Internet petitions and outrage helped fix the problem with the Stop Online Piracy Act issue in January 2012: when Wikipedia went dark for a few days, the internet freaked out.

Despite all of this, some companies, including AT&T , say that this won’t change anything and the internet will remain free. The Broadband for America group, made up of companies and service providers, also released a statement saying “we have built our Internet services on this foundation of openness.  [The FCC’s] decision does not change that commitment.”

So, there is a whitehouse.gov petition to sign, as well as one from MoveOn.org, if you are so inclined to take action. Keep the internet open!