You have probably come across this post, but in case you have not, get ready for a thorough analysis that is not only for pollution or tech nerds. (But it’s certainly ALSO for those people.)

In “How Google is killing independent sites like ours”, the independent website HouseFresh goes into the details to show why Google Search has deteriorated – has become shit, as Cory Doctorow puts it.…

Savvy SEOs at big media publishers (or third-party vendors hired by them) realised that they could create pages for ‘best of’ product recommendations without the need to invest any time or effort in actually testing and reviewing the products first. So, they peppered their pages with references to a ‘rigorous testing process,’ their ‘lab team,’ subject matter experts ‘they collaborated with,’ and complicated methodologies that seem impressive at a cursory look. Sometimes, they even added photos of ‘tests’ with products covered in Post-it notes, someone holding a tape measure, and people with very ‘scientific’ clipboards. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to show you’re doing the thing you’re supposed to be doing, but what happens when that’s as far as you go? All they had to do was say what they needed to say to pass a manual check if it came to that.

It is a particular case, air purifiers, but everyone knows these weird websites HouseFresh is talking about. At least when you’re using the internet to order things. Which is virtually everyone since at least Covid.

What to do with air pollution data?

I study waste for 10 years, and thinking about air pollution is part of this project. This has also to do with my studies in India back in 2012, when I was (severely) sick from the air pollution. I also almost ran an air pollution research project, but the grant competition was too high. Anyway, since then I have been eager to follow public discussions around air pollution and how the public is engaged.

There’s a new piece by the brilliant Rest of the World magazine that puts a focus on South Asia. Like many features on waste and pollution, it takes a research stance and introduces ✨data✨. It’s great. But what’s the point if the data is boring because it’s so obvious?

“Riders in the Smog” is the title of this piece, and in this the authors equipped gig workers with pollution monitors. It’s a fairly specific consumer brand (Atmotube Pro) with proprietary data interpretations, yet it gets the job done. “The readings were off the charts.” Sort of. Or, as it’s described in a scene.…

Alongside tracking specific pollutants, the Atmotube Pro gives an overall real-time air quality score (AQS) from 0–100, with zero being the most severely polluted, and 100 being the cleanest. According to Atmo, the company that makes the Atmotube monitors, a reading of 0–20 should be considered a health alert, under which conditions “everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion.” But the three gig workers found their monitors consistently displayed the lowest possible score. As Iqbal went about his work picking up and dropping off customers, his pollution monitor barely budged from a score of zero. “Is this device even working?” he asked.

You cannot divide by 0. There is no fragment of healthy air in everyday life in Lahore, New Delhi, and Dhaka. It’s slightly better indoors. But that does not translate to healthy. It just moves from “hazardous” to “very unhealthy”. (This is something that is only told by the genius categories introduced by the Air Quality Index. It made the grade choice of not setting an upper limit, so that the PM1s, 2s, 10s and VOCs can keep on rising and we may through a daunting colour and name at it.

There is also a methodology article on this:

While the data is not particularly useful, I enjoyed how the authors talked to medical staff and their recent experiences. This is how to add quality and concrete experiences. Recently, I have become to know the troubling perspective through Hanoi people: It’s bad but I still do relatively fine. A bit of coughing, it will be gone. But there are many stories of people, and tough Schicksalsschläge, that are worth reporting.

Podcast of the week

I like to include podcast in this, one podcast if possible. Yet it had to be two this week. Mél and Anne had their (often shared) discussion on how to make sense of (data centre) efficiency (data), and the politics of engagement. Go Data Fix!…

And then there is fellow German waste scholar (LMU Munich and Uni Augsburg, now Heisenberg Professor in Oxford) Simone Müller who was on the Edge Effects show. Dial in for a wild ride on waste colonialism.…

I feel environmental justice has done a lot of work to go the civil rights route. We see scholars and a lot of national activists coming to think about civil rights—what that means for non-discriminatory disposal of hazardous waste or also the situated mass of dirty industries in particular communities. But interestingly, they have done little oftentimes to pivot to the notion of other universal rights—universal civil rights versus something like that could almost be framed as “separate but equal” on a global scale.

I found this podcast because someone recommended it on Mastodon. A Segway. Swoosh.

Talking new and new old web again

Vice apparently shuts down, because of odd management. Platform decay, see above.……

Also consider how Reddit is doing the next step of selling its user/data base.…


This website POSSE here and independent networks like the Fediverse are one way to tackle the issue. But this new thinking can go in different directions. A few examples I compiled this week are the following.

Remember your first website from the 1990s or early 2000s? Ashamed/proud of the looks? I only now realized that there are extensive networks of websites that help you create these wonderful pages again. Neocities is the most prominent one.

(Also remember the past when annoyed users created a People Against Under Construction Images manifesto that is still life today. Rehearse!)…

Under Construction images are never seen at highly popular and constantly changing web sites such as Netscape CNN, Yahoo!, or Lycos. If the best don’t do it, neither should the worst. Under Construction Images should be removed from the layout of all Web pages. Take yours off now!

Ok, boomer.

Lastly, embrace this: Towards a quieter, friendlier web:…

With gems such as:

Share what you enjoy or what you’re curious about. Not everyone will enjoy of it, some people will appreciate different things, but build friendships on mutual interests. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something. Being forthright and asking for help is an admirable quality.

Wrap up

I try to do these dumps regularly now. A brief holiday was in between this and the more recent post. Let me know what you think in the comments and leave a kudos.

One more thing. The snapshots I include are Fuji pictures from the region. I think this period of AI hype that also tries to get rid of the creative arts is a perfect time to embrace photography, and more.

An image of air condiction fans outside a restaurant building in KL, Malaysia. White fans in front of a green wall, a little bit of posters and construction material on the lower part of the image