What Would a Humane Web Look Like

In this week’s episode of The Humane Marketing Show, we have the pleasure of speaking with Tom Greenwood about the concept of a Humane Web. Tom is the co-founder of Wholegrain Digital, a trailblazing digital agency that prioritizes sustainability as a Certified B Corp. Renowned for his expertise in business, design, and web technology’s role in addressing environmental issues, Tom is also the author of the enlightening book, Sustainable Web Design. Throughout our thought-provoking conversation, we explore the meaning of a Humane Web, its connection to ethical design, and the crucial role website owners play in contributing to a more humane web. We delve into best practices for prioritizing user wellbeing while achieving marketing objectives, discuss the social and environmental impacts of AI, and highlight successful examples of organizations embracing the principles of the Humane Web. Tune in now to gain a fresh perspective on the future of digital marketing and web design.

"I think if people offer really humane alternatives, then hopefully, like a growing kind of number of people will start looking at those and thinking, yeah, okay, this feels like a better place to be" – @eatwholegrain… Share on X

In this thought-provoking episode we discuss about:

  • How Tom’s newsletter readers described a humane web and what Tom’s definition is
  • What humane web has to do with ethical design
  • Best practices for website owner to do their part to contribute to a Humane Web
  • The winners of a humane web: humans AND the planet
  • The social and environmental impacts of AI
  • How Tom sees the future of humane web
  • and much more

Tom’s Resources

Tom’s Website

Find Tom on LinkedIn

Find Tom on Twitter

Sarah’s Resources

(FREE) Sarah’s One Page Marketing Plan

(FREE) Sarah Suggests Newsletter

(FREE) The Humane Business Manifesto

(FREE) Gentle Confidence Mini-Course

Marketing Like We’re Human – Sarah’s book

The Humane Marketing Circle

Authentic & Fair Pricing Mini-Course

Podcast Show Notes

We use Descript to edit our episodes and it’s fantastic!

Email Sarah at sarah@sarahsantacroce.com

Thanks for listening!

After you listen, check out Humane Business Manifesto, an invitation to belong to a movement of people who do business the humane and gentle way and disrupt the current marketing paradigm. You can download it for free at this page. There’s no opt-in. Just an instant download.

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Imperfect Transcript of the show

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[00:00:00] Sarah: Hello, humane marketers. Welcome back to the Humane Marketing Podcast, the place to be for the generation of marketers that cares. This is a show where we talk about running your business in a way that feels good to you, is aligned with your values, and also resonates with today’s conscious customers because it’s humane, ethical, and non-pushy.

[00:00:23] I’m Sarah z Croce, your hippie turn business coach for quietly rebellious entrepreneurs and marketing impact pioneer. Mama Bear of the Humane Marketing Circle and renegade author of marketing like we’re human and selling like we’re human. If after listening to the show for a while, you are ready to move on to the next level and start implementing and would welcome a community of like-minded, quietly rebellious entrepreneurs who discuss with transparency what.

[00:00:52] Works and what doesn’t work in business, then we’d love to welcome you in our humane marketing circle. If you’re picturing your [00:01:00] typical Facebook group, let me paint a new picture for you. This is a closed community of like-minded entrepreneurs from all over the world who come together once per month in a Zoom circle workshop to hold each other accountable and build their business in a.

[00:01:15] Sustainable way we share with transparency and vulnerability, what works for us and what doesn’t work, so that you can figure out what works for you instead of keep throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks. Find out more at humane.marketing/circle, and if you prefer one-on-one support from me.

[00:01:37] My humane business coaching could be just what you need, whether it’s for your marketing, sales, general business building, or help with your big. Idea like writing a book. I’d love to share my brain and my heart with you together with my almost 15 years business experience and help you grow a sustainable business that is joyful and sustainable.

[00:01:58] If you love this podcast, [00:02:00] wait until I show you my mama bear qualities as my one-on-one client can find out more at humane.marketing/coaching. And finally, if you are a Marketing Impact pioneer and would like to bring Humane Marketing to your organization, have a look at my offers and workshops on my website@humane.marketing.

[00:02:30] Hello, friends. Welcome back to another episode on the Humane Marketing Podcast. Today’s conversation fits under the P of People of the Humane Marketing Mandala. If you’re a regular here, you kind of already know what I’m talking about. And these are the seven Ps of the Humane Marketing Mandala. And if this is your first time here and you’re curious about those seven Ps of humane marketing, you can go to humane.marketing/.[00:03:00]

[00:03:00] One page, the number one and the word page, and download your one page marketing plan with the seven Ps of humane marketing. And this comes with seven email prompts to really help you reflect on these different PS for your business. So today I’m speaking with Tom Greenwood about a humane Web. When I first saw him, uh, talk about this in one of his newsletters, I was like, well, I just have to talk to Tom, but before you, I tell you a bit more about Tom.

[00:03:33] Allow me a moment to share that. I just. Open the doors again to my marketing like we’re human, a k a, the Client Resonator program. So this is my flagship program. It’s a three month program that is tightly linked actually to this podcast because it follows the same framework, the seven Ps of the Humane Marketing Mandala.

[00:03:57] It’s a deep dive into these seven [00:04:00] Ps to help you discover who you are. What your passion is and then bring more of you to your marketing. Market from within, so to speak. So we’re really kind of flipping the script and starting with ourselves rather than the usual marketing program that immediately goes to your ideal client, the avatar, and then focuses on, uh, techniques and strategies.

[00:04:26] We’re starting with ourself first, so it’s almost like a business. Or a personal development slash business development program. Uh, it’s more than just marketing. It really is building the foundation for your life’s work. And we start with passion, personal power, and then go into the outer. So we start with the inner and then go into the outer, the people, the product, the pricing, the promotion, and the partnership with others.

[00:04:56] We go deep in an intimate group and. [00:05:00] Really come out transformed with a business that you are truly aligned with. It’s a hybrid program with a 20 to 30 minute video to watch each week. Uh, that shares a bit of the framework, the principles. And a lot of, uh, transparent information and kind of lived experience for, from myself.

[00:05:21] Uh, it comes also with a beautiful workbook, with journal prompts, and then we have a live group call on Zoom each week to go deeper. So we, I’m not teaching anything on these group calls. I we’re just having the space together to go deeper, and that’s why. It’s such a transformational program because we really get to share and uh, and.

[00:05:46] Yeah, make it unique for each person. Who is it for? Well, whether you have one year, five years, or more than 10 years business experience, it’s never too late to go back to create the [00:06:00] foundation and is instead of just a business, really create your life’s work so you can truly market from. Who you are because that’s when things flow freely is when you market from who you are.

[00:06:14] And the best is always to hear it from other participants and not just ha have it all from me. So have a look at humane.marketing/program. There are plenty of testimonials. And also a handful of in-depth case studies that really show you the transformation that people have gone through. Book a call with me now to discuss if this is the right next step for you at this point in your business.

[00:06:43] Again, it’s starting in August. Uh, August 24th. I’m only running this live. Twice per week. So this is the last time, uh, this year it’s a three month program, and yes, I would absolutely love to talk to you and see and find out [00:07:00] whether this is a good fit for you at this time. Okay with that, back to the P of People in today’s episode.

[00:07:09] So Tom Greenwood is the co-founder of Whole Grain Digital, a certified B Corp and Green Trail Blazer. In the digital agency world, Tom is known for writing and speaking about how business design and web technology can be part of the solution. To end environmental issues and is the author of the book Sustainable Web Design.

[00:07:34] So in this, uh, thought-provoking episode, we discussed how Tom’s newsletter readers described a humane web and what Tom’s definition is of a humane web. What humane web has to do with ethical design, ethical web design. Best practices for website owners to do their part, to contribute to a [00:08:00] humane web, the winners of a humane web, humans and the planet, the social en and environmental impacts of ai.

[00:08:11] How Tom sees the future of Humane Web, and I guess also AI and so much more. Let’s listen to Tom and this concept of a humane web, which to me just sounds delightful. Let’s tune in. Hi Tom Sok. See you and hang out with you for a little while to talk all things humane, like I just said offline. Right.

[00:08:38] That’s basically what we’re here for. I heard you talking about Humane Web and I’m like, I gotta have him on the podcast. You’re

[00:08:47] Tom: humane. Yeah. And I likewise. I was excited when you reached out and I was like, huh, humane Marketing, like, great. We’re on the same page. Yeah, exactly.

[00:08:55] Sarah: So the, the. The way. Well, I’ve been on your email list [00:09:00] for a while, and then obviously when I saw you talking and actually asking readers about how a humane web would look like to them, uh, that’s when you got my attention and I’m like, yeah, let’s talk about this.

[00:09:16] So I’m curious, um, what kind of answers did you get to this question when you asked your readers?

[00:09:23] Tom: Yeah, it was really interesting and it, I mean, we got a lot of enthusiastic responses and it was, it was quite mixed. It sort of ranged from people talking about how um, basically like technology should be designed to like, respect humans in terms of like their privacy and their safety and, um, to make things more accessible in a sort of tangible ways to people with kind of maybe like a more like pie in the sky vision of like, A web that is like more personalized and it’s actually like, like more like fragmented and [00:10:00] decentralized rather than this sort of like homogenized big tech kind of internet that, that we’ve come to.

[00:10:07] Um, and then other people talking about like more like the experience that we have as humans and that actually, what if it was more. You know, like a garden that you can, or a library, like a place that you can kind of step into and browse calmly, slowly, mindfully relax into like find beauty and inspiration rather than it being like this high paced kind of intense experience that much of, much of the internet’s become.

[00:10:39] So it was really interesting just hearing kind of like that breadth of. Perspectives on like what that might mean.

[00:10:45] Sarah: Hmm. Yeah. So interesting. I, I love this image of either the library or the the garden and why not a library in a garden. Exactly. Yeah. That’d be even better. So what that means to me is, yeah, you, [00:11:00] you said it after like what we’re experiencing is something so intense and probably, um, Yeah.

[00:11:09] It’s more like the in our face experience where if you are going to a library, you are the one in control. You are the one who’s going to look for information rather than just showing up and everybody’s throwing information at you. Right. Is is that also what you Yeah. Exactly. Felt

[00:11:25] Tom: that’s what happened?

[00:11:26] Yeah. Mm-hmm. That, that you are really in control of your own journey and, and it’s your experience. For you to have and for you to lead rather than mm-hmm. You’re kind of entering into these worlds where you’re very much kind of led down a path. I mean, at best guided down a path at worst manipulated, you know, to perform certain actions.

[00:11:48] Um, Yeah. And sort of, yeah, put people back in the driving seat in control of their own experience, um, in more of a conscious way.

[00:11:56] Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so much aligned with humane marketing [00:12:00] because it, it, in the end, pretty much everything on the web is some type of marketing now, you know? Yeah. It’s like wherever you go, You, they want you to enter into a funnel and then basically control your mind and control everything you do.

[00:12:16] So it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s very much the same in terms of humane marketing. It’s like, well in, give the power back to the people. Right? Yeah. And it seems like that’s the same, uh, idea here on, on Humane Web. So, so was that also your definition if you thought of it before? Or did you think of even something else, um, that you can add here?

[00:12:41] Tom: Yeah, I think, I think it was a, a mixture of a mixture of things, but I think, I mean, the whole exploration and, and it’s still an exploration to be honest at this stage, but the whole exploration that, that some of us at Whole Grain are doing into this concept of a humane web really came from sort of a [00:13:00] frustration that the internet kind of in the early days, Did seem like something that was gonna be very democratic and, you know, allow people to have a voice and controller and experience and share information with each other and build communities and, and it has all of that potential.

[00:13:21] And yet more and more it feels like this thing where it’s like it’s, it’s very much like a domain controlled by these big tech companies and where. You know, as you say, like we’re we’re manipulated into these funnels. It’s like it’s the web has become a web of funnels. Yeah. And, you know, and, and you enter into it kind of almost at your own risk.

[00:13:41] And, and it’s not an equal relationship. You’re very much like you’re going in on their terms. They’re doing things behind the scenes to manipulate you that you don’t even, you’re not even aware of. There’s like legal terms that you’re effectively agreeing to just by. Like visiting a site or [00:14:00] using an online service.

[00:14:01] Um, and then, and then, and then it’s like, you know, there’s the, also the fallout of like mental health and the fact that actually like, yeah, the internet should be serving us as humans, and yet you have this like, huge mental health crisis that’s in par related to our relationship with digital technology and the internet.

[00:14:19] And, and it’s like, well, something’s really wrong here that it’s. There are like big corporations that are making vast profits out of the web, but at the same time that it’s not that there’s not any good things have come from it for, you know, most of us, like we all get some benefit from it day to day, but like on some level it feels like this is, this relationship isn’t working like it’s unhealthy.

[00:14:42] Um, so what would it look like if we reimagine that and said, well, okay, let’s kind of go back to the beginning. Take all of the. I guess take capitalism out of it for a minute and sort of say, well, like, let’s just look at it as a technology. Like

[00:14:58] Sarah: what? Remind me, Tom, [00:15:00] what was the name of the, it’s escaping me right now.

[00:15:03] Like when it first started, what did they call it? Um, Some term that I’m, I’m forgetting right now, but they actually said it, it’s a conversation, you know, the web is a conversation. Um, yeah. So, so really, yeah. That’s what you’re saying. We need to go back to, right. To, to these early days of the

[00:15:24] Tom: internet.

[00:15:24] Exactly, exactly. Sort of like today’s technology, but with yesterday’s principles maybe. Yeah,

[00:15:32] Sarah: yeah. Yeah. So much so. Yeah, so true. It’s, it’s, it’s almost like we’ve. Made such a big, yeah, we lost our way. We lost our way. It’s, it’s kind of like kids who are given, you know, the, the, the gadget and then they just like lose their way because they’re so excited about this s gadget and all, all the things you can do with it, and it ends up going the wrong way.

[00:15:58] It ends up [00:16:00] going to almost like, Evil. Right? That’s what we’ve done with this technology and, and or we, we can discuss whether it’s you and I, it’s definitely the, you know, the, there’s always money behind it somehow now. Yeah. Where that was not the intent of, uh, the internet back in the days.

[00:16:18] Tom: Yeah. I think that’s the thing that it’s, there’s, there’s so much potential to make money by manipulating people that.

[00:16:27] In a way that you can’t really do as easily in a physical environment. You know, like, you, like digital technology can kind of capture people for like, most of their waking hours. You know, like it’s very addictive. You’ve got your phone with you like all the time. Um, it can ping you and like, you know, pull your attention back in when you start ignoring it in a way that like the physical world can’t.

[00:16:49] And yeah. And likewise, it’s very easy to do like sneaky things in terms of how you. How you manipulate people to perform certain actions or to think a certain [00:17:00] way in ways that if you were in a physical environment, would be a bit more like, I, I think just a bit more tangible for people to sort of see what’s going on and think, Hmm, this doesn’t feel quite right.

[00:17:10] I’m not sure I wanna shop here. Um, right. Um, You know, and even things like privacy terms, you know, that you kind of get sort of forced to like click a button to say like, I agree before you come in. But there’s some like giant legal contract behind it that they know that nobody’s gonna read. Whereas if you went into a shop, you enter the supermarket and they said, well, before you enter, like, please sign this 30 page contract.

[00:17:32] Yeah. You’d probably be like, nah, I, I’m not, I’m not gonna shop there. I’m gonna, I’m gonna go to the green grass. It’s, you think about, it’s insane. Yeah. Yeah. It is and it’s very one-sided. It’s sort of like, sign this or you can’t come in. Um mm-hmm. So

[00:17:47] Sarah: what’s the solution? You’re working on a solution? Um, what

[00:17:53] Tom: is it?

[00:17:53] Well, to say we’re working on a solution might be overstating it, but we’re exploring what [00:18:00] alternatives might look like and I think, I think there are. Like, none of this is like necessary, you know, like we talked about kind of the early days of the web when it wasn’t like this on the web. I think the early, you know, pioneers of the web, like Tim Burners, Lee didn’t envision it becoming like this.

[00:18:17] No. Um, so I think inherently like the principal. Is that you could design and build digital services that don’t treat people in this way. And start by actually thinking about like, how you serve their needs. What, what’s really gonna be good for them as humans. And do it on the principle like you would’ve done like any kind of good business in the past where it’s like, if we really serve people well, they’ll keep coming back rather than if we, if we manipulate them and get ’em addicted.

[00:18:49] Um, Then they’ll keep coming back. Um, and I do think like there’s some challenges in that for certain types of business models where the business models are [00:19:00] inherently based on that principle. Um, you know, some of the social media giants for example. It’s like that’s I. That’s what they’re built upon. But on the other hand, I think the vision we’re trying to create is that if we actually created beautiful online spaces that treat people well and that they love being in and where they can build real, meaningful connections with other human beings or, or have space to just explore and learn things and, and enjoy things kind of on their own terms that.

[00:19:30] Okay. They might not necessarily like, be able to compete head to head with, like Facebook for example. Um, on, but they’re not trying to compete directly with Facebook. They’re giving people an alternative. They’re giving people a choice. It’s like, go, you know, go and spend your time here because it respects you and it’s a great place to be rather than go over there where you’re being exploited.

[00:19:49] Um, so yeah, it’s so like we are, we are not, I don’t think we’re ever gonna be, be in a position where we can say, look, hey, look, we’ve got this solution, but I think we can let help with that [00:20:00] conversation of exploring the principles and trying to embed them into some of our own work and trying to like, You know, experiment with them and see what works and see what doesn’t.

[00:20:08] Sarah: And don’t you think the change is gonna come from bottom up? Uh, not from the big ones. You know that they’re not gonna change anything because their model works. It’s exactly, it’s not scarcity, uh, and addiction like you said. And so why would they change anything? Because the money keeps coming in. So they’re not the ones who are going to change.

[00:20:28] It’s, it’s the smaller ones and also, Us, the clients, the customers who are just fed up, uh, with being abused and manipulated.

[00:20:38] Tom: Yeah, exactly. It’s like the big tech companies have nothing. They have nothing to gain and everything to lose by, like, doing things in a more humane way, I think, which is really sad.

[00:20:48] And I think it’s a kind of, probably a reflection more of the broader mm-hmm. Structure of our society and economy. Um, but equally like we have a, we do have a lot of [00:21:00] personal. Like power over our own destiny. Like we’re not actually like hooked into any of these things. Like we can choose to go wherever we want on the internet.

[00:21:07] And um, and I think if people offer really humane alternatives, then hopefully, like a growing kind of number of people will start looking at those and thinking, yeah, okay, this feels like a better place to be. Totally.

[00:21:24] Sarah: And, and I think what I’ve actually seen in the marketing world is that, Even small, uh, companies, one person companies, entrepreneurs, since the only models we had were the big.

[00:21:39] Tech companies and the, you know, the, the ones that are basically manipulating everybody. This became the going model. Yeah. Everybody started using, even on the very small business level, using the same kind of, uh, you know, scarcity and, and manipulative approaches. Yeah. So over the last 20 years, um, [00:22:00] This just became the norm, right?

[00:22:02] That, yeah, it was just a given. If you were in business, that’s the way you had to market and, and, and use technology and, and, and all that and all actually all the tech that I’m using in my business, you know, where I’m trying so hard to create a humane business, the tech, uh, so I’m talking like shopping carts or, or e-learning programs.

[00:22:26] It’s all built on non-human, uh, principles. Yeah. It’s all built on the idea. Let’s get as many people in and seldom our crap. Yeah.

[00:22:37] Tom: Basically.

[00:22:38] Sarah: And it, and it’s just really hard to actually use technology and yet doing in a, doing it in a humane way. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It’s really, really hard.

[00:22:49] Tom: I think one of the sort of, I guess sort of classically, one of the.

[00:22:54] The, the alternatives to that kind of hyper commercial model has in the, in the digital [00:23:00] space, has been the open source world, which is mm-hmm. You know, people building things with people for the people, um, and largely giving them away for free so that everybody can benefit from them. And I think that is probably where, like the solutions will come from.

[00:23:15] Um, I understand. Mm-hmm. But, but as you sort of. Highlighted, like even some of those things have gone more in that kind of commercial direction just because that’s the way things are done and, and some of those open source projects, as brilliant as they might be, have some sort of like commercial affiliation that sort of funds some of that community work.

[00:23:36] And so the way that the projects are led has a bias towards like feeding that like kind of. Parent company or, um, whatever it might be, right? But, but I do think like that the, in pr in principle, the sort of the open source world is probably like the best, um, [00:24:00] place to, to get like a groundswell of, um, kind of bottom up change.

[00:24:07] Sarah: I agree. Because it’s also. You know, it’s the people with the same values who come to create the solution and just give and, you know, know and trust and somewhere the money will come from. Yeah. But it doesn’t mean that I have to exploit, um, uh, clients or, or potential, uh, customers. Yeah,

[00:24:27] Tom: exactly. Yeah.

[00:24:29] Sarah: So, so far we’ve talked about basically, uh, the win-win of the, the client and the seller, right?

[00:24:38] Um, What I talk about and also what you were talking about is also, uh, a third win, which is the win for the planet. Yeah. Um, so talk to us how a humane web, and then maybe you can also talk a little bit about, um, web design, because that’s also, uh, part of your expertise. Where is the [00:25:00] planet stand right now and how do we make it a winner as well in this

[00:25:06] Tom: equation?

[00:25:07] Yeah. So the, the environmental aspect is uh, something that’s sort of, I think been left out of the conversation in the digital world largely until quite recently. And, and I think that’s probably for a variety of reasons, partly because digital technology is relative relatively new in terms of its impact on our lives.

[00:25:28] Um, but also because a lot of the environmental impact is sort of out of sight and out of mind. Um, You don’t have like a chimney or an exhaust pipe on your computer and you know, it’s sort of, it, it’s a lot of, it’s behind the scenes and we use terms like virtual, um, and the cloud as if like, the internet doesn’t really exist, but it, it is a huge physical system.

[00:25:52] You know, telecoms, networks that span the entire planet, um, satellites in space, like thousands of huge data [00:26:00] centers around the world. Billions of devices connected to the networks. So, If you take it as one big machine, it is the biggest machine that humans have ever created. And, and it consumes a huge amount of electricity.

[00:26:13] You know, roughly the amount of electricity is the whole of the United Kingdom. Um, if you took it as one thing and the United Kingdom is like kind of one of the 10 biggest economies in the world. So that’s, that’s pretty crazy when you think about it. And. When you, uh, when you put that in terms of carbon emissions, which is essentially the emissions of producing all of that energy, um, it’s, it’s estimated generally somewhere between two and 4% of global carbon emissions, which is a lot because like aviation, which a lot of people think, you know, aviation’s a serious problem, which it is.

[00:26:49] Aviation is about 2% of global cognitions. Global shipping is about 2%. Um, I think steel is about, steel production is about 7%. So when you put, [00:27:00] you know, put that in context of basically the internet being somewhere in the range of two to 4%, um, and growing rapidly, especially with like the advent of, of, of AI and machine learning.

[00:27:10] Um, it’s, it’s something that needs to be talked about. Um, and it hasn’t really been talked about much until like the last two, three years really. Yeah, that’s

[00:27:25] Sarah: completely how I feel. I feel like this has just, yeah, probably emerged. Three years ago for me, where before I was like, well, I’m a virtual, you know, business owner, so I don’t create any, any kind of problems.

[00:27:40] And, and then starting to realize, okay, so, you know, there’s all these different players that actually do, uh, impact how much carbon emissions I have. And, and you know, this was a, a whole. Transitions switching to, uh, a green or a greener host and, [00:28:00] and like making my website lighter and still working on that.

[00:28:03] It’s, it’s like things that. You never think about just uploading, you know, two megabyte pictures on your website. Yeah. And then when you start to realize, wait a minute, they have to be hosted somewhere. And the, uh, and the server obviously runs on electricity, so every time you know this, this is creating carbon emissions.

[00:28:24] So, so yeah. Tell us about ethical, um, you know, web design. Like what, what does that. Kind of just maybe a few really pragmatic tips that people can do right now to Yeah. Work on their website on, or at least become aware of that. Yeah.

[00:28:44] Tom: You mean specifically from the environmental perspective? Yeah. Mm-hmm.

[00:28:47] Yeah. So I mean, I think the, the, the way I find most helpful to think about it is that there’s, there’s a lot of waste on the internet. Um, And waste isn’t good for [00:29:00] anybody, like any form of waste. And, but specifically in the internet, that waste generally is if you’re wasting data, then you’re wasting, you’re wasting energy, um, which is bad for the environment, but it also has other.

[00:29:14] Kind of commercial impacts and user experience impacts and so on. But that waste can come in a number of forms. Like first of all, like you just mentioned, you know, like having files that are just unnecessarily large, like image files, video files that are either like, maybe they’re not required at all, but even if they are required, maybe they’re, um, which is larger than they need to be, maybe they’re, um, they’re not optimized well, maybe they’re not in like the most efficient file format.

[00:29:42] Um, so. Looking at things like that. Um, things like tracking scripts. Tracking scripts can like be more, they can use up more data sometimes than like an entire, the actual webpage that you see. The stuff behind the scenes. And this comes into like the humane aspect as well. [00:30:00] The stuff behind the scenes that’s like harvesting all of your data.

[00:30:02] Um, they can actually be more code in there than there is in the actual, like, visible webpage that you’re viewing.

[00:30:09] Sarah: So you mean like Facebook pixel tracking, that kind of stuff.

[00:30:13] Tom: Yeah. All that kind of stuff. All that kind of like ad personalizations, advert, you know, advertising scripts and mm-hmm. Things like that.

[00:30:20] Um, wow. And the, and, and, and that’s, I, I think that’s kind of an interesting one to think about because it’s, It’s using energy in a number of places and not for your benefit. So you’ve got basically, like the advertising scripts have to be stored somewhere, like in a data center. Then they have to be sent over the internet, which uses energy to get to you.

[00:30:43] Um, then they use energy on your device, which is your electricity that you paid for, um, to like spy on you or manipulate you by like, you know, manipulating the content. Um, and then they take the data, they. They’ve, they’ve [00:31:00] harvested about you and then use more energy to ship it back over the internet where it gets stored and analyzed in a data center.

[00:31:06] Um, so, so like things like that where there’s like, I mean things like that. There’s a, there’s a, there’s a, there’s a relationship between the environmental and there’s like human aspect. But I think if you’re designing something, actually being really mindful about tracking scripts is really important.

[00:31:22] Cuz sometimes a lot of websites aren’t even necessarily doing it. For good reasons. It’s just like, oh, I’ve got a website so I’ll stick Google Analytics on it. Um, and Google’s really benefiting from that by getting all of that data. But you might not even, some people don’t even really look at that data.

[00:31:37] So I think things like that are good to think about. Also, from the environmental point of view, like where you host your website, you mentioned moving your website to a hosting provider that has a commitment to powering their data centers with renewable energy. That’s kind of a. I’m not gonna say it’s an easy win because depends whether like [00:32:00] how easy you find it to actually migrate your website, but um, usually they really help you with that.

[00:32:04] Yeah, they normally it will help you like at do the migration. So it can be, it can be a low hanging fruit to reduce the environmental impact. Um, and I think just from a content creation point of view, just sort of being mindful about, um, like creating. Easy user journeys for people so they can find what they’re looking for easily not creating unnecessary content, um, just for the sake of like search engines, for example, but actually making sure that your content is really tailored to humans and, and, and you’re not doing things like putting in images of like just, um, like stock photography of people pointing at a whiteboard because you feel like you need to fill a space on the page.

[00:32:47] You know, just be really mindful about. Like justifying the existence of everything. Um, if you can justify why it’s there, then, you know, great. Um, but if you can’t, then, um, obviously if [00:33:00] in doubt, leave it out. Um, it’s sort of a simple mantra to the identifying and eliminating waste.

[00:33:08] Sarah: It’s so interesting because basically also here you’re saying, let’s go back to simplicity and, and basics and.

[00:33:15] You know, simple design rather than cluttered, obnoxious, you know, too much content design.

[00:33:22] Tom: Yeah. Yeah. And, and I think that’s e just sort of, again, going back to the human perspective, that can be much easier on the mind as well. Yeah. Um, it’s

[00:33:31] Sarah: relaxing. It’s more relaxing, right. Than Yeah. Having much content

[00:33:37] Tom: on it all the, all the time.

[00:33:38] Exactly. I think, you know, there’s a lot of problems with just sort of overstimulation, um, On the internet. So, so I think that there’s a, again, another synergy between sort of designing for the environment and designing for humans there.

[00:33:52] Sarah: Yeah. You, uh, just a minute ago, you, you kind of addressed ai, uh, [00:34:00] And, and I, um, there’s another great article that you actually published with a conversation between you and chat c p t about, um, the impact of ai, uh, to the environment and, and social, uh, impact and all of that.

[00:34:17] Um, yeah, tell us a little bit about that. Uh, in, in, just in general, how AI impacts all of what we just

[00:34:26] Tom: discussed. Yeah, so I, it was, I thought it would be really interesting just to sort of a ask an AI about the potential risks of AI and see, to see what it came back with. Um, I thought maybe I’ll learn something, maybe it would teach me something.

[00:34:44] I don’t know. Um, maybe it will be biased. Um, um, I was actually like sort of pleasantly surprised that its answers seemed quite thorough and quite. Quite honest, um, in identifying that there is [00:35:00] like potentially a huge energy cost to AI in terms of just how much computing, um, power it needs, um, both to train the models and run the models.

[00:35:11] Um, I think it gave me a figure of to train G P D three required, I think 500. CPU years, which is effectively like running a cpu, running a, running a computer for 500 years to train one model. Um, so it was, it was quite honest in, in that it did also highlight that there’s potential benefits, um, from an environmental point of view.

[00:35:33] If you can use that AI then to help humanity solve. Environmental problems and make other things more efficient, which I think is absolutely true. Um, but it also highlighted that the flip side of that is that it’s all about what we choose to do with it. Like you could choose to use AI to like, to, to extract more fossil fuels from, from the ground, which is what the fossil fuel companies are using it for.

[00:35:57] Um, and in fact, there was a big conference, I [00:36:00] think run by Amazon. Um, Specifically about that, like inviting all the fossil fuel companies to, to see what, how they could, how they could like, fi, discover and extract more oil. Um, wow. So, so that, that’s kind of interesting that it, it like chat, G B T itself highlighted that.

[00:36:19] Um, but then it also, like I asked it about sort of social impacts and it did, it did sort of, Quite honestly, like, explain that like, yeah, there’s potential risk to people’s jobs, um, in terms of being replaced by ai. There’s risks of bias. There’s risks of, um, big temp big tech companies, um, having more and more power because essentially like whoever has control of the AI has more power over a society and the, and the potential to like manipulate public opinion and, and potentially even influence democracy, which is something that it did.

[00:36:57] Bring up. So, um, [00:37:00] yeah, I think it was quite well rounded I felt, in terms of what it highlighted. And of course, it’s not really a, it’s not a person. And that’s the thing that it’s like really hard to like get your head around when you start doing something, like trying to have a conversation with it. It’s like, well, hard to like

[00:37:13] Sarah: it or dislike it, you know?

[00:37:15] Yeah,

[00:37:16] Tom: right. I’ve, I’ve set myself a rule that I’m like, when if I did, you know, like when I did that, To not say thank you cause it sounds really simple, but as soon as, but you ask a question and you get an answer back that sounds like a human wrote you a message back. Right. And it’s really easy to slip into that thing of thinking there’s a person on the other side when there’s not.

[00:37:37] Um, and I don’t know if you’ve seen the film X Mcna. Um, I haven’t. It, it’s, it, I mean, I think it’s, I only watched it earlier this year because it sort of felt like this is the time in history where, The science fiction is suddenly catching up. Yeah. Like, like real life is mirroring science fiction and [00:38:00] Yeah.

[00:38:00] It’s, it’s a film about, and like an, an AI that’s been developed and um, and humans building relationships with it and the, and the boundaries between what’s human and what’s not being blurred and how that. That’s a slippery slope, basically. Um, I won’t spoil it for you, but Okay. But I, yeah, it’s a, i I, it’s a, it’s a fascinating and very well made film, um, on this topic.

[00:38:30] Yeah,

[00:38:31] Sarah: I’ll look it up and I’ll definitely link to, to that article, the interview with, um, chat G p t, um, as we’re kind of. Coming to close here. I I’m, I’m just, I always feel like, oh, so it’s such a heavy topic. Right? And, um, when we started recording, um, offline, I told you I tried just to focus on the positive things.

[00:38:58] So let’s, let’s do that [00:39:00] here as well. How do you see the future of Humane Web and, and what can we do to, you know, kind of counter effect the big tech and. The big companies and, and even if it’s just in our own little bubble, but at least we’re creating that vision and who knows what will come out of it, but at least we’re living in that vision already.

[00:39:25] What can we do? And, and then Yeah. Uh, from there, how do you see it evolve? Yeah,

[00:39:30] Tom: sure. I, I think the main thing we can do is first, first of all, like stop and think about like what we. What we need as humans and how the technology can serve us, rather than the standard model now, which is sort of like, how do, how do we serve the technology?

[00:39:49] Um, and you, you know, you spoke about it earlier about how. We go down this route of like, now there’s like an established model of like how the [00:40:00] internet works and how the business models on the internet work being like those big tech companies. And so there’s just a natural inclination to mirror that and just copy it.

[00:40:10] And I think the, the best thing we can do is actually just stop and think, look inside ourselves about like, what would it look like if it was really serving my needs and serving the needs of of others. And actually just have the confidence to try to do things differently and not just copy the, kind of the standard template of how things are done these days.

[00:40:32] Um, and I think if more and more people do that and. And importantly, more and more people share that and tell the story of how they’re thinking about it and why they’re doing things differently. Um, I think that’s really powerful cuz then it can create that sort of like ground up change. Um, both in the, the way that people are thinking about the internet as well as the way that people are interacting with it.

[00:40:58] Sarah: Yeah, 100%. [00:41:00] And, and that’s definitely what we’re trying to do here, and I know you are as well, and, and. You might think, because what we’re seeing is the big tech everywhere, right? Mm-hmm. But the more you kind of are in these circles, the more other little circles you discover and you’re like, wow, there’s actually people like us everywhere.

[00:41:21] Yeah, exactly. So that always gives me hope. I’m like, well, two years ago I didn’t know about Tom Greenwood, and now I know that you’ve been working on this for years and years, and so. You know, there’s, there’s millions of us and that, that gives me hope. So I, I, uh, I couldn’t agree more with you to just kind of.

[00:41:41] You said stop and, um, kind of step into the confidence of doing things differently. And I think yeah, that is key because it is scary to, you know, not do what everybody else is doing. Um, So, yeah, if, even if it’s just, you know, for your website, [00:42:00] and that’s where again, uh, I’m gonna go back to my website and, and check that I don’t have any kind of tracking code in there because Yeah.

[00:42:08] I, I don’t need it. Right. So, um, definitely, uh, yeah,

[00:42:13] Tom: to start exactly, start from where you are and, and, and ask yourself questions about like, what it is that you are doing. If you are creating things on the internet, um, and. And just see where it, see where it leads, see what other people are doing. Yeah. Um, I mean, even on the tracking script one, like there are alternatives.

[00:42:32] Like there’s one called Plausible, for example, um, which is like, it gives you some data about how, like how many people are using your website, what, like what countries they come from, what web browsers they use, what pages they visit. But it is completely anonymized. It’s very, very lightweight, energy efficient.

[00:42:51] Um, Script. So there are some like kind of, there are alternatives to some of these like big tech [00:43:00] solutions that are actually trying to balance the sort of the human and the environmental side as well as providing some useful functionality it for when people do need it. Um, yeah. So yeah, it’s worth looking for those as well.

[00:43:12] Thank

[00:43:13] Sarah: you. I, I would really encourage listeners also to sign up to your newsletter, so please share with us where people can find you and your newsletter and all your other good work.

[00:43:24] Tom: Yeah, sure. So the newsletter, I’m, I’m very excited. This, um, just past 6,000 subscribers yesterday. Um, it’s, it’s called Kii Green.

[00:43:34] Um, if you Google Kii Green Newsletter, you, you should find it. Um, and, and it’s basically a monthly newsletter about like, Greening the internet, um, but in a very holistic way. So, you know, we talk about things like humane web as well. Um, and we started it about three years ago thinking that nobody would be interested.

[00:43:53] So to suddenly like now be like, oh wow, there’s like 6,000 people subscribe to this. That for me is like a source of optimism. [00:44:00] Um, again, that that

[00:44:01] Sarah: means that there’s all these people everywhere, right? And saying, yeah, me too. I’m in.

[00:44:06] Tom: Exactly. Mm-hmm. Exactly. The, the, like, I think sometimes we. We don’t realize that there’s a lot of people out there that are thinking like we are thinking, or, or maybe they’re thinking differently from we’re thinking, but they’re like, they really care about making things better.

[00:44:20] Um, and we just don’t know that they’re out, they’re out there. Um, right. So when we have things that kind of bring these voices together, I think that’s really powerful. Mm-hmm. Um, so yeah, so the Curiously Green Newsletter, um, I mean, you can find me on LinkedIn, that’s Tom Greenwood who runs Whole Grain Digital.

[00:44:36] There’s lots of Tom Greenwoods, but I’m, I’m, I’m that one. Um, And I also have a, um, I also have a, a personal newsletter about sustainable business on CK called Oxymoron, um, which you can look up on ck Um, yeah, so I guess they’re the. They’re, they’re the key places to find me. And you have a book, right? I do have a book, yeah.

[00:44:59] Yeah. I always [00:45:00] forget to mention that. Yeah. There you go. So I always have a book, um, about sustainable web design called Sustainable Web Design. Um, you can, you can get it direct from publisher, uh, which is a book apart.com, or it’s now available as of about two weeks ago in a lot of bookshops. Um, so you could find it on Amazon and other kind of online bookstores as well.

[00:45:22] Sarah: Wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing that. I always ask one last question here to every, uh, guest, and that is, what are you grateful for today, this week, this season?

[00:45:36] Tom: To be honest, I, I am grateful for the fact that like we live in a world where we can have these sorts of conversations. You know, like we have the freedom to think and, and share ideas and, you know, even if not everything is.

[00:45:52] Perfect. And not everything’s always trending in the direction we wanted to. Like the fact that we have the opportunity to try and like do [00:46:00] something about it and connect with, with other people. Trying to do so is, is, is a wonderful thing, um, which I’m very grateful for.

[00:46:09] Sarah: Yeah. I agree and I’m grateful for the work you are doing and and your team, so

[00:46:17] Tom: thank you.

[00:46:17] Sarah: Let’s keep it up. Yep. So much. Thanks so much for being here, Tom. I hope you feel motivated and I. Inspired to create a humane web together. I highly recommend you sign up to Tom’s newsletter. You’ll find that@wholegraindigital.com. You can also, as Tom suggested to connect with him on LinkedIn. You find the show notes of this episode@humane.marketing slash 1 67, and on this beautiful page, you’ll also find a series of free offers, such as my Saturday newsletter, the Humane Business Business Manifesto, [00:47:00] and the free gentle confidence mini course, as well as my two books, marketing like we’re Human and Selling like we’re human.

[00:47:08] Thanks so much for listening and being part of a generation of marketers who cares for yourself, your clients, and the planet. We are change makers before we are marketers, so go be the change you want to see in the world. Speak soon.

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