... in CFL

Catching up with the global south...

06 Dec 2012 | 370 words | CFL climate cange energy lights technology migration

Almost 6 year ago (on the first of january 2007) i started taking an interest in the use of Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) as exterior lightening. I first noticed this use of this type op lightbulbs on a new years day stroll to the recently bombed out southern suburbs of Beirut. A large number shops and market stalls has improvised lamps made from large CFLs. The next day i observed the same while visiting a number of recently destroyed villages along the Lebanese/Israeli border.

While this kind of eco-light bulbs where still relatively new and rare in north-west Europe at the time, their sudden appearance in Lebanon made a lot of sense: The Lebanon’s electricity generating capacity had been severely reduced by israeli air strikes during the previous summer’s war and in a situation where there is insufficient supply of electricity energy efficiency is a simple necessity (as opposed to the luxury it represents in the global north).

I later encountered large CFLs as (often improvised) exterior lighting in a large variety of places outside of Europe: In fast growing economies like China, Brazil and Indonesia (where supply of electricity does not manage to keep with the rapid growth of demand) and places like Cuba, Iran, Egypt or Syria, where the distribution infrastructure is often improvised and thus vulnerable to excessive demand).

Whatever the reason it appears that all of these countries were leapfrogging the developed world in use of energy efficient lightening, not because they cared so much about their carbon footprint, but out of sheer necessity (which of course nicely contrasts our self perception as moral champions of energy efficiency in the global debate about climate change).

In this context it is somewhat refreshing to notice that apparently we have started to catch up with the developing world. On my bike ride home from work the day before yesterday i noticed a number of stores (run by immigrants) that used CFLs for exterior lighting in pretty much the same way that they have been using them in Lebanon since 2007:

i am pretty sure we will see much more of this type of immigrant driven technology transfer from the periphery to the center in the years to come…


25 Mar 2008 | 220 words | art museum CFL exhibition

Although i have a well documented faible for CFLs and i maintain a growing collection of CFL pictures in one of my flickr sets, all the photos i have taken so far originate from the middle east (the CFLs usually found in the west are pretty uninspiring). Fortunately a young entrepreneur (who is otherwise in the fairly stupid business of selling old style telephone handsets for mobile phones) has come to the rescue and created the PLUMEN, a low-energy light bulb prototype with a twist:

Some people find them unpleasant, but low-energy lightbulbs are a necessary innovation. Their presence in our lives explain the PLUMEN’s designers, “should be seen as an advantage to be celebrated by drawing, sculpturing, or scrawling in the air with light. The bulbs should not be viewed as an afterthought but instead as a centerpiece. then people might begin to buy these bulbs through genuine desire rather than mere moral obligation.”

Not sure if i buy this tear-jerk bullshit about genuine desire to buy a lightbulb, but at least this prototype has managed to get into the New York MOMA where the PLUMEN is currently on display at the ‘Design And The Elastic Mind‘ exhibition (extremely annoying flash site, that takes forever to load!).

Personally i think that cheap chinese flower shaped CFLs look much better

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: