A brand new PhD!

This monday, our own Jorge Zapico, became a brand new PhD, after successfully defending his thesis ”Hacking for Sustainability”. His opponent was Dr. Elaine Huang, University of Zurich, who did a brilliant work. It was a pleasure to listen to their discussions.

2014-01-27 10.25.18-1
Jorge presenting his work!
The Thesis!
The Thesis!

Congratulations Jorge!



Go vegetarian – A challenge for the team!

The members of our sustainability team has been challenged, by a colleague, to try out being vegetarians for a period of time. The challenge has of course a connection to sustainability, since the meat consumption is threatening issues of a sustainable future.

I for one found this challenge interesting, and invite everyone to join the challenge, regardless if you are part of the team or not. The challenge is issued during the month of February 2014 (which happens to be a hashtag event on Twitter: #vegfeb), and I will prompt you to reflect on the outcome of the challenge if you commit. Since it might be difficult to persuade (innocent) family members, we have in the team decided to have two levels of commitment:

1) Only eat vegetarian meals during February independent of where you are.

2) All meals outside the family home  should be vegetarian.

Since there might be traps out there to fall into, we have also decided that we shall have a punishment fund, where you have to pay 20 kr for failing a vegetarian meal. It also need to be followed by a slip of paper with a reflection on why this failing occurred. There will be a box in my room for this purpose.

Join the challenge by commenting below, and if you have any questions you can e-mail me elina(@)kth.se. Please feel free to share any tip regarding recipes or the like! Team members are also encouraged to write a blog post about their experience of the challenge!

And by encouraging you to exert yourself, I hereby pledge myself to the first level of commitment, I (and my family) will eat only vegetarian meals during February. This will be an adventure!


EDIT 31 Jan 10:04 ————-

Since the folder (see below) didn’t work as anticipated, nobody could access the files in the folder, I hereby instead post the links to the files directly. So, one file to sign up and one file where those who want can write down tips and recipes.

Sign up here.

Write your recipes here.

EDIT 24 Jan 19:59 ————-

Since this blogpost is reaching more people than just the team members, I have created a google drive folder with a possibility to assign to the challenge and a document where people can share recipes etc. Please join the challenge!



Team meeting January 13, 2014

We started this week’s team lunch with a round of presentations, since we had a new team member, Hanna Hasselqvist, PhD student with an interest in energy and a background as an industrial design engineer specialised in user-centred development of ICT tools. The other participants at the meeting were Elina, Cristi, Ambjörn, Åke, Malin (who took these notes), Fredrik (guest speaker) and Björn.

Elina informed us that she is working on the vision for the team, and this will be presented as soon as she has come a little further in her work.

Elina also encouraged all team members to write in this blog. She offered to help anyone who needs an introduction.

On February 24, there is a deadline for papers to the conference ICT4S. Currently, Elina, Daniel and Malin will write papers to this conference, and possibly the other team members can read and comment on the texts a little later on in the writing process.

Mondays, uneven weeks, are good to have this meeting, even during this spring semester.

The team will propose to hold a PhD course in Sustainability and ICT during spring 2015. Most likely, Daniel P will be in charge.

Björn said that it’s high time to come with ideas for bachelor theses for media technology students, since they will start soon.

Björn will visit Vinnova’s information meeting about Horizon 2020 and report back to the team.

Fredrik, our special guest at this meeting, challenged our team to eat more vegetarian food. He suggested that we keep diaries and make it into a sort of research project where we document what is easy and hard when it comes to eating vegetarian. The team decided to take on this challenge, with regards to meals eaten outside of home, meaning lunches and dinners at restaurants. For those cases when we fail, we put money in a internal ”punishment fund”. Elina will send out more information and a possibility to sign up for the challenge.

Elina will send out invitations to the next team meeting and also post this information in the MID calendar.


(Un-)sustainability update from Argentina


We usually think we have long way to go in terms of sustainability and raising awareness of people in Sweden, but let me tell you, that is Nothing compared to Argentina.

I can appreciate that the problems people have here are so much more immediate that issues like the environment, pollution and other species aren’t even on the map. It’s deceptive to talk about ”Argentina” though. There isn’t one Argentina, but several.

The rich live in enclaves and maintain a rich-European lifestyle behind guarded fences. An army of menial workers arrive every morning (to clean the house, work in the garden, fix the pool, repair the electricity etc.) and they leave in the afternoon. The rich are worried about living in a country with a very high (35%) inflation, with populist politics and corrupt politicians, with an ever-growing army of violent-prone dirt poor people moving from the countryside to the cities. If they’re brave, they live in the city, but always in a building with a 24-hour doorman and always looking over the shoulder, searching for the would-be kidnapper. How high up on their agenda do you think the environment is? Their way to maintain the sanity is to live in a bubble and to recreate the American dream (shopping malls, cars, vacations abroad, new electronics and other expensive toys) together with a weekly visit to their psychologist (very usual). For me, it’s a consumerist nightmare come alive with no thought about tomorrow. The high inflation itself discourages people from saving money and instead encourages them to spend what they have today (because who knows what it might be worth tomorrow?). It might even make sense to buy a new car since it might be the case that the car devaluates at a slower pace than their currency does… Another alternative is to change their money (pesos) to US dollars.

The poor have problems of their own and these are of course bigger but I know less about them since I don’t meet the poor. But even they live the consumerist dream. Everybody buys everything on credit and the price is always divided into 12, 18 or 24 months of paying for your TV, your clothes, your motorcycle or your whatever. Everybody agrees the situation in the country is worsening year by year.

Around 40 million people live in Argentina but half (!) the population of the country lives in or around Buenos Aires. Argentina is a huge country but the provinces is yet a another Argentina. Money disappears on the way and prospects are poor in most places. That is one of the reasons for the influx of people to Buenos Aires.

Again, how high up on their agenda do you think the issue of sustainability is?