Issue #49

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Curiously Green

Tis the season for slowing down

As we approach the Winter Solstice here in the northern hemisphere, it’s a good time to slow things down and reflect on the past year. I’ve just returned from a lovely slow travel experience to and from Italy, where Vineeta and I attended the annual conference of Sloweb, so slowing down has been a theme I’m embracing on many levels!

This month, my colleague Marketa has been busy providing us with lots of food for thought that I want to share with you here, including designing a web that works at a more natural pace as well as the concept of ‘Ikigai’; how finding purpose has been important in her own life and why we should all seek our to pursue our purpose in our work.

I hope you all get the opportunity to slow down this month and I look forward to reconnecting with you in the new year.

Merry Christmas! 🎄

– Tom Greenwood
Top picks from the green web
Pacing ourselves for a more humane web

Pacing ourselves for a more humane web


In the first of what will become a series of posts exploring our insights into what it means to create a more humane web, this month seems a particularly apt time to consider the concept of pacing. In the context of online browsing, pacing determines the rhythm and speed at which people consume, interact and move through the virtual landscape. Our insatiable appetite for the speedy delivery of our online experiences has led to the assumption that faster is better.

While no-one is advocating for the painfully slow days of dial-up internet, pacing is about more than speed. It’s about allowing users to consume content at their own pace rather than overloading them with information, causing stress and impulsive decisions at best, overwhelm, anxiety and complete disengagement at worst. It’s about creating experiences that work for as wide an audience as humanely (this is not a typo!) possible. It’s about what’s best for people and planet. That’s what our Humane web project will be all about. 

We’d love your thoughts on this – not just the concept of pacing, but your thoughts on the idea of how we can create a more humane web, together. Do get in touch to chat more about this by hitting reply to this newsletter and sharing your ideas. We can’t wait to collaborate with you on this!

Slowing down with sustainable travel

Slowing down with sustainable travel


Last month, Vineeta and I travelled to Treviso in Northern Italy for the Digital Ethics Forum where I’d been invited by our friends at Piano D to give a talk about scaling sustainable digital businesses. I’ll share more on my talk next month but while we’re talking about slowing down at the end of the year, I wanted to share my experience of travelling slow – from the planning to the sustainability statistics.

Likewise, Neil Clark at TPX Impact recently shared his rail journey to Denmark to attend a meeting with the Umbraco sustainability group and my colleague Tommy travelled to WordPress Europe in Athens by train and Ferry.

All three stories highlight the significant environmental benefits of travelling by train as well as the opportunity to embrace the journey as a valuable experience in its own right.

I am mindful of the fact that rail travel can be much more expensive than flying and so it isn’t accessible to all. As Neil says in his post, “cost really is the big disappointment in all of this.” However, for businesses who can afford it, I think it is often an overlooked opportunity.

Finding your ikigai

Finding your ikigai


Marketa writes passionately in her latest, more personal blog, about how she found her ikigai working at Wholegrain Digital, in a role that feels like it was designed for her. I’ll let Marketa explain in her own words:

“The best thing about finding your ‘why’, or your ikigai, is that you can find joy in your life and in your work. It’s not something that someone can force on you. You can only find it if you want to find it. And once you do, it builds a beautiful sense of confidence and calm. It doesn’t matter whether there are other people focusing on the same thing. Regardless of whether others share the same focus, your Ikigai becomes a unique, personal purpose that no one can take away.”

Head over to the blog to read more of Marketa’s story and check out her helpful exercise that could help you find your ikigai – that is, if you haven’t already! If you’ve also found your personal and professional purpose in digital sustainability, we’d love to connect with you. Just hit reply to this newsletter and tell us your story.

Quote of the month

"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."


Anne Lamott

Book of the month
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles


In this captivating exploration of Ikigai, authors Héctor García and Francesc Miralles unveil the ancient Japanese philosophy that has the power to transform lives. The book elegantly combines philosophy, psychology and practical, actionable examples, helping readers to discover their Ikigai. 

At its core, Ikigai is about discovering one’s “reason for being” — the intersection of passion, vocation, mission and profession. Drawing from the rich Japanese culture, the authors combine examples from centenarians from Okinawa with contemporary research, painting a vivid picture of a life well-lived. They argue that finding and nurturing your Ikigai is the key to unlocking a long and contented life.

The book encourages self-reflection and a deep dive into personal values. It offers a refreshing perspective on the pursuit of happiness by applying a holistic approach that integrates personal fulfilment with societal contribution and planetary wellbeing.

The book can work as a powerful guide to help us find meaning and thus make a positive impact collectively. The authors emphasise the importance of balance, resilience and the joy of the present moment — all essential elements in the pursuit of happiness and on the journey toward a more meaningful life.

Marketa Benisek, Wholegrain’s Digital Sustainability Lead

AI Sustainability News

Some new studies on AI sustainability


⚡ The Verge reported in June that a study found tweets generated using GPT-3, now considered a less advanced model than OpenAI’s GPT-4, were more convincing than human-written posts. This raises concerns that AI can generate more misinformation on various issues. Furthermore, seventeen groups, including Accountable Tech, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, Climate Action Against Disinformation, Greenpeace USA and the Tech Oversight Project, sent a letter to the Biden administration urging for more action against AI’s impact on climate disinformation. The letter accuses the administration of neglecting AI’s impact on spreading disinformation on climate and the huge energy cost of training large language models.

💻 Making an image with generative AI uses as much energy as charging your phone according to a new study by researchers at the AI startup Hugging Face and Carnegie Mellon University. The same study also found that using an AI model to generate text is significantly less energy-intensive.

⚡ If every search on Google used AI similar to ChatGPT, it might burn through as much electricity annually as the country of Ireland. According to a new analysis, adding generative AI to Google Search increases its energy use more than tenfold.

Other news from the green web
Join the Wholegrain Digital team
Could Wholegrain Digital be your ikigai?

Could Wholegrain Digital be your ikigai?


If you’re interested in being part of the Wholegrain Digital team, we’re always happy to hear from individuals dedicated to making a difference in the world via digital sustainability.

If you don’t fit the roles advertised at any time, you’re always welcome to get in touch with the team by replying to this newsletter to learn more about us and explore options in a casual conversation.

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Curiously Green is curated and written by Tom Greenwood, Marketa Benisek and Rachael B.