Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Outgrowing the Earth

I'm currently reading Outgrowing the Earth: The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures by Lester R. Brown, the founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute. It is proving to be an interesting and accessible read, and one that I was planning to review once I finished reading. I likely still will review it, but it is proving interesting in a different way at the moment.
At the end of each chapter is the note: "Data for figures and additional information can be found at [...]." I finally found myself needing to check the figures for an end-note and popped over to take a look at the website for the book.  Oh my. Research heaven. Data and charts provided in Excel formatted spreadsheets.  And each chapter provided in both .pdf and html formats. All the end-notes converted to footnotes. Everything in the book and more. And all available for online browsing or download.
Now, I'm unlikely to read the entire book online (I still prefer a paper copy for reading), but I could load the whole thing up on a Kobo and read it. Brown has decided that communicating the information in his book is more important than killing trees, and for that, I applaud him. Now, I'm not sure that Brown's (and Cory Doctorow's) business model is viable for everyone, but it certainly is convenient when you're looking to quote from a book. It's also an excellent way to provide more information than you might want to cram onto dead trees, and connect to readers.
So how does this connect to food security? Well, that's what Brown's book topic is, so off you go. Have a read. Here's a .pdf of chapter one to get you started.

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