[NetBehaviour] Ecosia

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Thu Dec 5 22:20:44 CET 2019

Hi Edward,

It's always encouraging to hear of products that incorporate an element of philanthropy, social responsibility, or environmental sustainability in their raison d'etre.  It seems that a hybrid of individual economic choices combined with the best legislation possible would be the most hopeful path forward.

Perhaps because of reading something else recently about Wallace Stevens, I was reminded of hearing about your "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" project and re-read the poem (which I had read but not studied closely in the past).  Bird poems have a very rich and ancient history so it was good to read it again.

I thought Haddam would mean some ancient city when he asked why its "thin men" "imagine golden birds," somewhat like "Sailing to Byzantium," but it's actually a town in Connecticut.  The poem is truly marvelous, which makes me wish I'd read it better sooner.  Oh well!

I'm also reminded of seeing some red-winged blackbirds at Lands End national park last October.  The drought had dried everything to a brown tinder, fires were raging very close to the city, and there were three birds with piercing eyes in the shrubs next to the parking spot we were in.  I think one even hopped onto the hood of our car, or almost landed on our windshield -- it was one of those startling moments one sometimes has with nature.  After watching them a bit I saw the red wings of one when it jumped to a new shrub, and got very excited: "they're red-winged blackbirds!"

At a conference in late 2018 I spoke briefly to neurologist and author Dr. James Austin about his latest book, written in his early 90's.  He noted that the term for mindfulness in zen is actually more like re-mindfulness, as in the title of his book, not quite the same as remembering but similar.  I asked him if he thought mindfulness related to literature, and he said his new book (which I bought but haven't read) includes a lot about haiku, which he likes to write.  He said that the book included a lot about birds, and that early zen considered bird songs as a reminder of our true consciousness, "a reminder to look upward."

Which brings me circuitously to my question -- do you consider Stevens' poem to contain any treatment of networks or a "network perspective" in it?  I most definitely do, but I see networks everywhere I look these days -- in apples, crackers, glasses of water, paper, carvings of bison, you name it.  I see elements of network reality in each stanza of the poem, copied below, in very grand variety; the more grand in that they are not networks about wires, chips, monitors, computers, TVs, radios, etc. etc. ad infinitum.  Incidentally, the Stevens poem I know best and have had memorized since the early nineties is "The Emperor of Ice Cream."  I think I shall try to add one more.

Best regards,



Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Edward Picot via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Sent: Thursday, December 5, 2019 2:00 PM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: Edward Picot <julian.lesaux at gmail.com>
Subject: [NetBehaviour] Ecosia

Dear all,

Via an RCGP (Royal College of General Physicians) toolkit on how to make
medicine more environmentally friendly, I just came across a search
engine called Ecosia. The RCGP recommends that we (meaning everyone in
primary care, ie. all doctors' surgeries in the UK) should set Ecosia
instead of Google as the default search engine on whatever browser we
happen to use, because the money Ecosia makes from advertising is all
put towards reforestation schemes.

I've spent part of the day changing the browsers in our surgery so
they've now all got Ecosia as the default search engine. You've probably
all heard about this initiative already, but I'd never come across it
before. I've been browsing their website and they do seem to be doing
genuine good work. So, I thought I'd pass on the information.


PS - very interesting debate about AI in music, sparked by Simon Mclennan!

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