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Scott Rosenberg's Posts


Sustainable information: Beyond tofu news and high-fructose media

I started talking about the concept of "sustainable information" here at Grist a couple of months ago, and drew mostly blank stares. It was as if yoking the two words together couldn't possibly make sense.

I didn't mean information about sustainability, valuable though that is.

I didn't mean the sustainable delivery of information -- as in, "think of the trees before you print out this e-mail," or "don't leave your laptop on its charger round the clock."

And -- important though this might be to my own livelihood -- I didn't mean "how do we keep news organizations in business," which is what people in the media often think "sustainable" means.

I was thinking more about what it might mean to apply the ideal of sustainability to the news and information that we produce and consume every day.

Read more: Uncategorized


Shake hands with our new design

What you see on the pages for this blog represents the first phase of some redecorating, and rethinking, that's going to unfold here at Grist in coming weeks and months.

We're aiming to make our pages friendlier to read, gentler on the eyes, and easier to use. We're testing out some aspects of the new design here and plan on rolling it out more widely to other parts of Grist soon. Down the road we'll also be improving our mobile edition and our email services.

Along with these changes in how things look we'll also be revamping how our coverage is organized, beefing up our news coverage and making other improvements.

We're doing this in stages so we can make course corrections as needed, and that's where you come in. We do really want to know what you think about what we're doing. So I'll be checking in regularly with you all right here. Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below.

Read more: Inside Grist


First post: Your new editor’s blog

I've been a regular blogger since 2002 -- first at, then at my own site. Since joining Grist last September, I've sorely neglected the old blog; there's simply been too much to do here to keep up.

So I'm thrilled to begin this new blog at Grist. It's the first new feature we're rolling out now that we've completed our transition to the WordPress platform. And that's not because I have a burning need to see that little drawing of my face at the top of the page. (Flattering though it is, plainly I need hipper glasses -- but I refuse. On principle.)

The real point of this is for me to be able to talk with you about what's happening at Grist, and to hear back from you about what we're doing and how we could do better. There's a lot of change afoot at this place; we need to know how it's going and what you're thinking about it.

In addition, of course, I'll be weighing in on all things sustainable and green and Grist-y, as I feel the need and find the time. No point in having a blog if you don't use it!

P.S. If you're the creator of the movie-poster image above or you know its original source, let me know so I can credit you. This one has been kicking around the Web for a long time and its origins are lost -- at least to me.

Read more: Inside Grist


Five ways to argue with a Keystone XL pipeline supporter

1. When they say: "The Keystone XL pipeline will bring down gas prices!"

You can say: In your dreams.

Gas is a global commodity and its price is set by global markets. It rises and falls based on all sorts of factors, including current demand, demand forecasts, global economic conditions, and international events that affect distribution channels. Local supply fluctuations rarely have any but the tiniest impact on gas prices. New pipelines carrying costly-to-extract tar-sands oil might extend the lifespan of climate-wrecking fossil fuels by a few years, but they won't bring down the price at the pump. (In fact, in the Midwest, Keystone XL might actually increase the price per gallon -- this report explains why.)

Read more: Climate & Energy


Boehner invites pipeline pals to State o’ Union

As the camera pans around the Capitol chamber for President Obama's State of the Union address, see if you can spot the representatives from the state of Oil: four avid supporters of the Keystone XL Pipeline who will attend the speech as the guests of House Speaker John Boehner.

Read more: Climate Change, Politics


Why the latest geek cause really does matter to the planet, too

Every few years somebody comes along and tries to break the internet. Sometimes it's a corporation that thinks it can replace the open network with a more profitable company town. Other times, it's a government that thinks it must tame the online wilds with new laws. Each time, the internet seems to brush off the assault. The network is, after all, simply an idea -- a set of agreements to trade digital signals according to certain rules that over the past two decades produced a new kind of open public sphere, a media commons. That idea has proven highly resilient. …

Read more: Inside Grist


We’ve been working under the hood

Today Grist is switching our publishing system from one platform to another. (For those of you interested in this stuff, we've moved to WordPress.) It's a big deal for us, but shouldn't be, for you: In fact, the changes we've made so far ought to be nearly invisible. We haven't altered much about the site for now. We do have all sorts of improvements up our sleeves for the coming weeks and months! But at the moment we don't think you'll notice too much that's different. Still, this is technology we're dealing with here -- so of course there will …

Read more: Inside Grist


Pipeline power game: Why the GOP wants to humiliate Obama

There was only one last-ditch demand Republicans in Congress rallied around in the end-of-year budget negotiations that concluded today -- a black line in the tar sands drawn by the conservative legislative machine. In order to approve a payroll tax-cut extension -- a measure that the GOP's tax-hating ranks already support in theory and that's widely understood to be an effective stimulus to our sagging economy -- Republicans held out on a single, make-or-break issue. Democrats could have a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut -- but only if they let Republicans pursue a gambit to get the Keystone …


Tell us how to Occupy Grist

Photo: Gilad LotanThe summons to "Occupy Wall Street" first issued from a little magazine called Adbusters that specializes in "culture jamming" and Situationist prankery. So you could say the movement started as a media phenomenon.  But you'd be wrong. The people who have taken the phrase from Adbusters and run with it, such that there are now Occupy offspring across the U.S. and around the world, aren't playing media games. They're expressing profound dissent from a global financial system that has failed humanity, and they're trying to kindle hope in the possibility of peaceful change.  No, Occupy Wall Street didn't …


Feeding frenzy: Who's behind the unsavory food stamp parodies

A scene from "It's Free (Swipe Yo' EBT)."They seemed to come out of nowhere, like so many web memes: two apparently satirical music videos celebrating feasting at the public trough courtesy of EBT -- the Electronic Benefit Transfer cards state governments use to distribute food aid and other benefits. But on the internet, nowhere almost always has an email address. And a close look at these emanations of the pop-cultural id turns up some suspicious fingerprints. The first exhibit is "My EBT," in which Brooklyn rapper Stanley Lafleur ("Mr. EBT") runs down the many perks of using his government-supplied plastic. …

Read more: Food