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The Sustainable Network: The Accidental Answer for a Troubled Planet (Sustainable Living Series) 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 063-6920157038
ISBN-10: 0596157037
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Sustainable Network demonstrates how we can tackle challenges, ranging from energy conservation to economic and social innovation, using the global network--of which the public Internet is just one piece. To help solve a myriad of problems today, author Sarah Sorensen points out that the best tool for enacting change already exists, lying literally at our fingertips. This book demystifies the power of the network, and issues a strong call to action.

The Sustainable Network

For the first time see your relationship with the global network

Can you really save the planet by using the Internet more? The quick answer to that question is yes. The thoughtful answer is explored in The Sustainable Network, which takes a look at the role the Internet and all the other networks that connect the world’s computing devices have on the way we are living our lives, conducting our politics, running our businesses and impacting our planet. The network offers us a sustainable platform for change, but to use it to its full advantage we must understand it; we must understand how it works, how it’s integral to our daily lives and how its potential can be tapped more effectively to tackle our toughest environmental, social, economic and political problems. Here are four things you can do now to support a sustainable network:

The network is more than just wires and cables; it’s the answer to our future

Evaluate and recognize the impact of networks on your life today. The Internet has more than likely changed your relationships and many ways that you go about your daily life. It’s important to recognize, in real terms, both the possibilities and holes created by the network in your personal, civic and business activities. Take stock of the new prospects it’s created, new challenges you face, and the level of your reliance on it every day. The goal is to identify how you want to maximize potential and minimize risk.

Invest in the future to take advantage of the opportunities created by the network. Learn as much as you can about what the network really is. You should be able to define it (broadband, 3G, smart grid, etc.) and link that to your future opportunities. Learn how to use new network tools to establish connections to information and people, to give you access to the resources you need to make informed decisions. In business, evaluate your infrastructure in terms of scaling and new requirement adaptability. Investment, time and financial, is critical to participating in the digital world.

A sustainable earth involves everyone, connected and informed

Protecting your personal information, intellectual property and digital assets. It is critical to be aware of the risks you are taking when sharing information and resources online. There are precautions and security measures you can take to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of your online activities. Risks in the digital world need to be understood before they can be combated, and it’s important to understand the tradeoffs, strengths and weaknesses of the digital world as an alternative to the physical one.

Test new ideas. Look for additional ways you could leverage the network to achieve your plans, improve economies of scale or reduce your impacts. Examine your mindset, regulatory landscape, business culture, process and policy environment and ask whether they support change. The more willing a government, business or person is to take a look at the way they normally operate and identify opportunities for improvement and innovation, the better the chance they will be able to effectively leverage the network and new technologies to solve problems and accelerate success. It’s critical to identify and then clear the hurdles and embrace necessary changes to keep up in this fast-paced world. Thinking and answering these broad questions in our own, individualized terms will enable us to find our place in this global network. And then together we can develop more sustainable environmental, economic, social and political models. The Sustainable Network sets out to help each of us understand the network and its role in our lives, so we can nurture our relationship with it–our individualized and collective futures depend on it.

Photos courtesy of Kate Richards.

About the Author

Sarah Sorensen is the principal of Sorensen Consulting, a sustainability and strategic communications consultancy. She spent eight years at Juniper Networks in a variety of product and corporate marketing roles. During her tenure, she created and managed the Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability strategy and was a founding member of the company's Green Taskforce, which is responsible for driving energy efficiency initiatives within the engineering and product teams. She also managed Juniper's business announcements, crisis communications and public sector outreach, and spent half a decade marketing the company's security technologies. A graduate of UCLA (1996), where she majored in English and was a member of UCLA's Division 1 women's soccer team, she has focused her efforts in branding, marketing, communications, and public relations for both start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. She has developed and written dozens of white papers, byline articles, and presentations on and about the networking and security industries.

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Product Details

  • Series: Sustainable Living Series
  • Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (October 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596157037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596157036
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,750,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mitchell R. Alegre VINE VOICE on March 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
If you want to better understand how the global network works, this book will interest you. If you want to know the implications of the network and how it may answer the world's problems, this book will disappoint you. The supposed point of the book--how the global communications network is the best sustainable technology to address the world's problems--is lost in a mountain of details about how the network operates. Throughout my excruciating experience reading this book, I kept asking, "Why do I need to know this?" I now better understand the path an email takes after I send it. So what? How does this help me understand how to use the global network to address society's problems? I did find useful suggestions for action included at the end of a few of the chapters. But any of the chapters that addressed the supposed premise of the book dealt with issues at a superficial level. I was hoping that this book would provide a thought-provoking read. Instead, I experienced reading this book as a mind-numbing chore.
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Format: Paperback
How did we get here? This book is an attempt to bring you up to speed on what's happening in the interconnected world. For the "newbie" it is an excellent resource for educating one about the internet, how it works, how it is shaping our lives, and the dangers we face because we are interconnected more than we've ever been.

The author is a former employee of Juniper Networks, a major producer of the routers and switches that make up the "guts" of the internet. As an "insider" she has many helpful discussions about the many factors that shape the internet we use, its strengths and adaptiveness, its ability to survive major attacks, and its weaknesses that may place the data we transmit over it at risk. The book serves best as an omnibus of content for most any question you ever had about networks in general and THE network in particular.

The subtitle is "The Accidental Answer for a Troubled Planet." The implication I read is that through the networks we've created we'll be able to save our planet. That is a moot point. While the Internet is rapidly becoming the medium of choice for information sharing, it doesn't come without a price. As she states, the servers, routers, and switches that send information on its way require a steady stream of electrons for their operation, and at current rates of expansion, it is not clear that we'll be able to afford the electrical power plants that will continue to allow that expansion. This is one of the few books I've read that has addressed this particular energy problem in some depth.

A sampling of chapters that address current issues include:

What's So Smart About an Energy Grid?
Is Broadband Really That Important?
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I am not in the tech industry but I am a big user and fan of technology. This book is a great examination of the profound impact that technology (the "network", wireless, etc.) has on our lives...It's really fascinating to have the author examine the environmental, political, social, and economic implications of the network. This book is great follow up reading to Thomas Friedman's "Hot, Flat and Crowded"...The Sustainable Network was highly educational and very interesting.
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By Arbee on February 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a real gem. I recommend it to anyone wishing to better their understanding of the pervasive role the network already has in today's world, and how that pervasiveness is only destined to grow and have an even bigger part to play in how we can choose to conduct our lives, and what that could mean in terms of leading life in a sustainable manner. Whatever you think you know, and however much you are already thinking about what the networked-future could look like, this book will give you a lot more fact and, more importantly, additional food for thought, discussion ... and even action and change.

Some examples of topics covered then. The actual and factual: what is the network and how does it work (Ch. 2); broadband, what it is and why it's so important (Chs. 5 & 20); and the data center (Ch. 17). And the food for thought: doing good by doing right (Ch. 19); rocking the vote (Ch. 28); and protect the net (Ch 34). But to be honest, every chapter's a winner. If you'd like to see the full table of contents, go to: [...]/catalog/9780596157043.

Also, this is a very well written and reader friendly work, with just the right touch of humour. The 41 chapters are needed to cover the breadth of topics addressed, but with an average length of 6 pages it's easy to fit the reading into your day. You can read the book cover-to-cover as this is definitely a good story with a beginning, middle and end; or you can dip in and out, as each chapter is also quite self-contained.

To end, I'd like to thank the author for making me aware of Kiva ([...]), and would like to encourage all of you who have read this far and would like to do something more to check the Kiva site.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished reading "The Sustainable Network," by Sarah Sorensen and felt compelled to jump online and write a review.

This book is a true resource for anyone who wants to see more bright green in their wallet! It spells out concrete ways to save money and energy through simple practices. Saving time, money, and energy is huge... it applies to everyone, not just tree huggers!

Reading this book inspired me to execute some real upgraded changes on how my family consumes our products at home and how my business partner and I run our offices.

We found that by employing some of the simple ideas Sorensen spells out in this book, we are able to make better use of the electronic devices and internet network we already own. She points out that changes don't need to start out epic in order to improve the environment and affordability of what we consume.

The "Sustainable Network" has ignited my passion to become hungry to think more efficiently.

Eventually, using our internet instead of raw paper will become to people what using seat belts in cars is -- no longer optional!
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