Keeping It Real

For my final post on TitA, I want to highlight two projects by Brooklyn-based media artist Michael Mandiberg. Mandiberg has developed and is currently expanding a pair of Firefox plug-ins that highlight the true environmental costs of the global economy. He looks specifically at consumer products and transportation.

The first project is Oil Standard, a browser plug-in that converts the prices of goods for sale on any web site into their equivalent value in barrels of crude oil. Prices rise and fall in real-time based on the global market rate for oil. Oil Standard provides an interesting shift in vantage point and could be expanded in the future to show the actual fuel costs involved in manufacturing those goods and bringing them to market.

His second project is Real Costs, another plug-in that inserts emissions data into travel-related web sites. The first iteration adds CO2 emission information -- the US is the world's biggest producer -- to airfare websites such as Orbitz, United Airlines, etc. Future versions of the plug-in will interface with driving directions, car rental and shipping web sites. Mandiberg describes it, "think of it like the nutritional information labeling on the back of food... except for emissions."

Food for thought, indeed.