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Friday March 19, 2010 3:02 pm

SXSW 2010 Keynote: Systems Design and Inspiration


Posted by Andru Edwards - Categories: Editorial, Features, Internet


SXSW Valerie Casey Systems Design Keynote

The Sunday 2pm keynote was from Valerie Casey, a consultant who works with entities as large as the government to up and coming Louisiana food startup Naked Pizza.

Valerie is part of a group called Designers Accord who has a mission to use the skills and talents of this team to give back to the community and ultimately Mother Earth.  Her profound opening statement was “When will we start thinking that less bad is good?”  The example shown was a Dell studio PC, a small desktop computer with an optional bamboo case that adheres to the highest levels of green standards for office computers.  Yet, it is still another computer, which has components inside which will ultimately end up in a landfill and be harmful to humans or the environment.  A heart-wrenching photo was shown of a child living an an area of China whose community cannot even drink their local water due to contaminants from the e-waste trade; where components are stripped from circuit boards over fire pits for their little precious metal content.


It is not just electronics which harm the environment.  She gave another example of a project from San Francisco, where a group bought a taco from a local stand and tracked each of the ingredients to see where each came from and where the waste paper and aluminum would go after the taco was consumed.  Everything was studied, from the chopped tomatoes and rice inside to the aluminum foil keeping it together and warm, and surprising realizations were made.  The aluminum foil, despite being shipped from New Zealand had the least impact because it could be recycled again and again.  You can take a look at that project online at: http://bit.ly/cYvO03

Her other example at sustainability is from the Naked Pizza chain, a 500sq foot “shack” in New Orleans whose founders have created what they call the healthiest pizza with all natural ingredients without a premium cost.  Their goal is to teach consumers that being healthy can be good for you.  Their pizza is a Trojan horse to show that local
food is good for you without “getting eco” or green on their consumers who may not care for preaching.  Their product idea was ambitious but their initial marketing a bit brash.  Their first box design read “This pizza won’t kill you. Promise.”

She challenged the audience, who are the creators of the next generation interactive and digital products and services to think of how social media can create social change.  She said the interactive community has to lead by example and create the next generation.  So what are you waiting for?  Head to the Design Accord website and see if your mission aligns with theirs.

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