Video: ‘Technobiophilia: Nature and Cyberspace’ at Common Ground

NB: Viewers may notice that Nature did not spare me in this video! I filmed the Zoom call in a corner of my south-facing living room. As the session progressed, and despite my attempts to block it out beforehand, the sun first lit me too brightly then dumped me in darkness before moving round to focus on random parts of me and my plants. Out of my control at the time and very embarrassing!

On February 12th 2021 I was the guest of Common Ground Research Networks in a discussion about my 2013 book ‘Technobiophilia: Nature and Cyberspace’. The event was part of The Common Ground Research Media Lab Speaker Series, Imagining Futures and my talk was titled Technobiophilia: Nature in the Digital. The Lab is based at the University of Illinois.

This series offers members of Common Ground a place of learning and interaction through online conversations led by some of the world’s leading researchers, practitioners, artists and civic leaders. The aim is to create linkages that cross disciplinary, geographic, and cultural boundaries. I love this. Transdisciplinarity is what it’s all about!

I really enjoyed the Q&A discussion, which starts at around the 35 minute point. We talked about the most useful ways to think about technobiophilia, how to use it in practical workshops, the role of academics in addressing the crises facing the natural world, and the many applications of technobiophilic design. I’d like to thank Phillip Kalantzis Cope, the Chief Social Scientist at Common Ground, for his thoughtful introduction and chairing of the session.

Zoom making you tired? Turn your desk into a secret garden.

If Zoom is wearing you out, you probably need some real plants behind your screen.

Peering through Zoom

We’re all familiar with the generic wallpapers Zoom provides to brighten up the virtual meeting room. But the next time you’re peering at the shimmering outlines of your colleagues against the swaying palm trees of a Caribbean island, think about how great it would be to have your own secret garden right there on your desk. I tried it this week, and it’s gorgeous!

First, I tidied up my desk and made a clear space behind my laptop, then walked around the flat collecting houseplants which looked like they could use a change of scene. I chose five and grouped them into a mini green wall behind my screen. Nobody but me can see them but that’s fine, because their only purpose is to lighten my Zoom life. Now I can soothe my Zoom exhaustion by reaching out to touch their leaves, check whether the soil is dry or just breathe in the aromatics of living greenery.

I’m enjoying having my own private landscape right there on my desk. I started off with leafy plants but I’m planning to swap some out for one or two flowering varieties. Maybe a pure white cyclamen next to an orange kalanchoe. I’ve already discovered that placing them behind my screen means that I actually look at them much more often then when they’re sitting on a shelf in the lounge. Give it a try!

My secret garden desk

Current plants as featured in image: Spider Plant ~ Chlorophytumcomosum ~ Phlebodiumaureum ~ Maranatha Eiger Grass ~ Dracaena ~ ZZplant ~ Zamioculcaszamiifolia ~ Areca Lutescens