ETech 2009: Hopes and Expectations

I've landed in San Jose to attend O'Reilly Media's Emerging Technology conference, thanks to the generosity of my family members, as a deferred 30th birthday present. The theme this year is Living, Reinvented. A large part of the premise of the conference is technology in the context of a world moving from abundance to constraints; how emerging technology can help us cope and thrive under the limits imposed on us by our environment, energy demands, and social constraints.

Looming large behind all of this is climate change. Yet the refrain I have heard many times over the last few years is that the technology for solving climate change is not new - not "emerging". I am not talking about adopting the back-to-the-land, "druid" mentality of Paul Saffo's druid - engineer continuum of climate change solutions. Rather by tapping into existing , sensible crop management, urban planning and public transportation we will find ourselves far along the path to sustainability.

I do believe the personalities behind ETech are genuinely concerned about environmental degredation and climate change; so I am not expecting a simple greenwashing attempt on their part. It is with more optimism than skeptecism that I look forward to the events over the next few days. I only hope that as a conference we do not simply slide back into fetishizing shiny techno-fixes.