Markus Stocker bio photo

Markus Stocker

Between information technology and environmental science with a flair for economics, the clarinet, and the world of soups and salads.

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An email exchange across the Atlantic (thanks!) motivated me to finally write a post on a thought that kept my three neurons spinning for awhile now. The idea is, surprise, not new. Yet, it might not be too old for some branding either, so here are my two cents: On the Democratization of Consumption Data.

Whatever -ism best suits you – capitalism, feminism, Buddhism, socialism, environmentalism, nihilism (I wonder how many isms the world knows, anybody?) – perhaps we agree, likely all of us need to make decisions. Ideally, informed decisions.

I believe, an area where we may want to improve the availability of information to support decisions is consumption. (Yes, in our age, I suppose this entails also accessing some sort of data.) Ever wondered how many gallons water you need to shower, to shave, to bathe? Or perhaps how much rated power your kitchen appliances use when turned on? Don’t care? Fine. Capitalist self-interest and wondering how much the cost is? Good. The safe limit for humanity: 350ppm CO2? OK, let’s drive it down. Whatever -ism best suits you, the point I would like to make here is knowing what you consume is, perhaps, a building block for making informed decisions.

I wonder if democratization of consumption data might be an interesting idea worth exploring. In a nutshell, individuals should have access to real-time data and information on their consumption of natural resources, water, electricity, gas, oil being perhaps the most straightforward but we can go further with, e.g., food, waste. As such, the idea is to empower people by providing data on something that today is central for many – in fact that important to significantly weight on global recessions – and hidden to most.

What you do with the information, that’s your business.

Chetty et al. nicely describe this idea in a recent paper [1] so if you can’t wait to read more on this, that’s a good study to start.

[1] Chetty, M., Tran, D. and Grinter, R.E. (2008) Getting to Green: Understanding Resource Consumption in the Home. Ubicomp 2008, Seoul, Korea.