Project Information

Skills Required

There are a lot of skills that I will need for this project to be completed, some of them I already have a sufficient understanding in, others I will have to develop. I have separated these skills into categories.

Technological Skills

  • Better understanding and ability to use PHP to process data submitted by users.
  • More knowledge of Javascript and how to utilise it to create animated infographics which respond to data outputted by PHP
  • A good understanding of HTML5 and CSS3, especially with CSS3 transitions.
  • A basic understanding of how to store user data in databases using mysql (This is less important).

As I already have a good understanding of HTML5 and CSS3, having used it regularly over the previous 5 years, my main focus is on learning more about PHP and Javascript, as although I have a relatively good understanding of both I know I will have to do a lot of researching, testing and debugging in order to get my product to work the way it wants.

Design Skills

  • Ability to create original designs with Adobe Illustrator
  • Ability to create original designs with Adobe Photoshop

I already have a lot of experience using this software so I will not have to spend a lot of time learning how to use the software but creating my designs will take time as I am not intending to use other peoples designs or collaborate with a graphic designer.

Math and Science Knowledge

Because I am working with a lot of statistical data that has to be accurate in order for the product to work correctly I will need a basic understanding of maths, I am mostly working with percentages and decimals and will not need to know anything advanced. In terms of working out things such as how much methane a single cow produces a year I will also need a basic understanding of scientific units of measurement such as parts per million.

Research Skills

Although I have done a vast amount of research on the subject my project is related to, in order to get a better understanding it might be beneficial for me to get in contact with somebody who has more knowledge in the field of environmental impacts of the livestock industry, perhaps an activist or a researcher, the reason for this is because there is a lot of data online and it is quite hard to know if that information is accurate and/or up to date sometimes.

Resources

At this stage I have defined no particular resources I will need for this project that I do not already have. I will need a computer, the required software, and web hosting. I already have these things.

External Collaborators

At this point in time I am unaware of any external collaborators who will be working with me on this project. Although, as I have mentioned, it may be beneficial for me to seek out the guidance of someone who has more knowledge of the impacts of the livestock industry on the environment. However, at this point I have not consolidated with any outside sources.

Role Specific Documents

Front end Development: Luke Monet

Back end Development: Luke Monet

Graphics: Luke Monet

Web Design: Luke Monet

Research: Luke Monet

For this project, to date, I am assigning all roles to myself. The reason why I have made this decision thus far is because I want to expand on my knowledge and ability in all fields. Although I am most interested in front-end development, I think gaining experience in all areas will be beneficial for me moving forward, I think this will help me gain more experience and further my employability. I do not believe that these tasks are beyond my abilities, although I am fully aware of the amount of work I will have to undertake in order to create the final product.

Sources Of Material

I will not be creating every piece of code for every part of my project entirely from scratch as in many cases there are a range of libraries and open source code that are available to use free of charge. I plan to use open source code (such as responsive tabs) and javascript libraries (such as d3.js, a Javascript library that can be used for creating animated data visualisations) in some sections of my project and I will reference these uses on completion of my final product.

Budget

The only thing I am planning on having to spend money on is web hosting as I am doing all the design and web development and research myself and have all the resources to achieve this readily available. Depending on how much data my website uses I may have to have a relatively decent hosting account depending on the amount of data usage. I have already purchased a hosting account (www.themeatcounter.org).

Other expenses I have taken into account are possible images I may need to purchase to help create my designs and possibly some books on JavaScript if I can’t find enough useful information. Altogether, total spending on the project should be no more than between 50 – 150 pounds.

 

Time Management (gaant chart)

Here is a copy of all the duties I will have to undertake in order to complete the project. They are ordered within a timeframe of 1st of February to 1st of June 2016. Although I have begun research for the project and started some of the production with my prototype I have set the completion to 0% for all sections.

gantt chart

list of duties

Project in Broader Contexts

In its broader contexts my project relates to the use of technology as a way to help solve social and cultural problems that society is facing. All forms of media are intended to help improve our lives through allowing users to communicate, share information, and be entertained. But ICT’s are different to other forms of media in that they allow the creation of information that can be unique to each user depending on how they interact with the product, in this project the user enters data into the fields which is relative to their personal habits, the data is then returned to them in a format which is only of use to them, this is something that is different to past analogue forms of media where the content has to be relatable to a broader audience as it cannot be manipulated to be more relatable to each individual user. This is useful because it allows information to be presented in ways which can help users track their own personal habits through interacting with the medium. This could arguably be the most defining characteristic of the web and relates to ideas that the Internet can be used to improve  societal and personal aspects of our lives which also relates to technological determinism and social constructivism.

The project also relates to consumer behaviour, and demand and supply. If you can change consumer habits through providing information on the social implications of consuming the product the demand may decrease which means the production will decrease as there is no longer as much of a demand for that product. It also challenges the notion that humans are rational and will change their habits if they are presented with a logical reason as to why they should, and argues against the idea that the majority of individuals are simply passive consumers who will neglect reason in exchange for getting the product they want.

In terms of design the project relates to making information more presentable through the use of infographics. Because the Internet is capable of using a range of multimedia there has been a lot of experiments on design which differ from previous content on the internet during the ‘web 1.0’ phase. Due to the introduction of programming languages such as javascript and css3 (to name a few examples) there is a lot more room for experimentation, especially in relation to how users engage with the content. This project isn’t very experimental when compared to other websites but takes some of the aspects of web 2.0 designs such as images and animation to present a ‘more interesting’ piece of information which attempts to use imagery to make the information more engaging to the user. I am essentially using graphs and charts to make data more readable, the main difference being that the designs are more visually aesthetic and less static.

How the Project Relates to Past Work

This project relates to work I previously did in the design iterations unit during the second year. The intention of the project in that unit was to try and make people reflect on their impact on the environment as a collective. In that unit I used processing (a java library used for visual arts) to detect movement on a camera. Skyscrapers would appear on the screen depending on how many people there were within the view of the on board camera. This was intended to show that the higher the population, the more the natural landscape changes, and like this current project was intended to make individuals reflect on their own personal influence on society. The other project however was more conceptual and thought provoking where as The Meat Counter is intended to be more productive as users can determine how much of an impact on the livestock industry they are contributing.

Project Development, Design Research and Workshops

Project Development

Since establishing the idea for my project there have been a lot of changes to the way I have decided to try and address the problem of individual impact on the environment through meat consumption. Originally I had intended to create a website which allowed users to track their meat eating habits. After discussing my project in seminars and doing research my idea began to evolve into something that wasn’t as reliant on storing data into databases which the user could check on on a weekly basis to see how much meat they were eating and is now much more focused on creating awareness on the impact of meat consumption on the environment.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 16.11.07

Zero Carbon app (Mobitelio LTDA, 2009) Screenshot taken from Itunes.apple.com

My research in the beginning looked at mobile apps which helped users organise and manage their lifestyle. The example above is an app which helps users track their carbon footprint and helps suggest ways which they can reduce their carbon footprint. After reading the reviews (below) I realised the app wasn’t very successful as it didn’t support user input.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 07.27.29

This made me realise that the most important aspect of my project was that it would allow users to see their impact on the environment, there was no point in having an app or interactive website which just provides users with information that has no reflection of their personal contributions to the problem.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 07.40.05

Smokefree app (Crane 2015) Screenshot taken from Itunes.apple.com

Another example I looked at was this app which helps users track how much money they had saved and their health improvements after quitting smoking. Originally I had thought I could include a section of the website that allowed people to track the progress of their health due to their change of diet. It seemed that using a model similar to this where the user continuously checks their account to see how well they were doing could work quite well. After some discussions in seminars it was pointed out to me that I had two ideas, one which dealt with creating awareness about the impact of the livestock industry and another which was about personal health management.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 17.56.36

Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker app (Myfitnesspal.com 2015) Screenshot taken from Itunes.apple.com

My original idea was that the user could select the meat they had eaten each week, the data would be stored in a database, then the next week the user would do the same and the two sets of data would be compared so that the user could see if they were eating less or more meat and therefore manage their meat intake more effectively. Because there are already relatively successful apps which allow users to track their diet (such as the diet tracker app above) I became skeptical that a website which helps users manage their meat consumption probably wasn’t going to be very useful. The reasons for this are that it would be tough to engage users in the product if it’s something they have to visit and manage on a regular basis, especially for something so specific.

I think what my project intends to do now is show users what impact they personally have on the environment but not provide them with a tool for organising their diet as there are already successful apps available for that purpose and people are more than capable of organising their diet without the use of an app or a website which they have to enter information into on a weekly basis. However, using mysql to allow users to create accounts and track their habits over time is something that I am still interested in and is something which I could expand on afterwards or even whilst I am working on the project for the exhibition depending on time constraints, though it is no longer the main focus.

Design Inspirations

Whilst researching possible directions I could take in designing the website I drew inspiration from a number of sources. Something that particularly caught my eye was a website created by a designer named Bard Edlund which tracked the time in different countries. Although the design doesn’t require any user input I like the minimalistic approach.

Another website which related to my project was the vegetarian calculator (Chico Designs 2015). The concept is simple and lets vegetarians see approximately how many animals they have ‘saved’ and how much c02 was not released in the atmosphere depending how long they had been vegetarian for. Although I wasn’t particularly fond of the design of the website I was interested in how much attention the website had got through sharing on social media.

I intend to make a modern and minimalistic design that is simple and gets straight to the point. I don’t want to be overly reliant on scrolling and animations popping out of the side of the screen as I find this is the same as creating a presentation with lots of whizzy effects that doesn’t really contribute to the quality of the presentation. Just because it is possible to do this sort of stuff it isn’t always useful.

Workshops

The first four workshops were very useful to me in helping me understand how I could utilise php and mysql in a way which would allow users to interact with the webpage. In the early examples we learnt how to create a basic post system similar to that of Twitter. Although this isn’t something I intend to be using for my project it was useful because it broadened my understanding of php and mysql which is something I had been focusing on learning for about 6 months prior to starting the third year. It also informed me on how I could use the API to take pre recorded data and use that for my website. We used an example where we took data about the weather and used php to output the data on to the webpage. This would be extremely useful for me if there was data on meat consumption readily available to be used (I haven’t come across this so far). Another thing that we learnt that I was unaware of was the use of json in xcode so that you could create apps that linked to websites.

References

ChicoDesigns, 2015. Vegetarian calculator. vegetariancalculator.com, Available from: http://vegetariancalculator.com/ [Accessed 6 December 2015].

Crane, D., 2015. Smoke Free – Quit smoking now and stop for good. Itunes, Apple. Available from: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/smoke-free-quit-smoking-now/id577767592?mt=8 [Accessed 4 December 2015].

Edlund, B., 2015. Is the Internet Awake?. http://www.edlundart.com, Available from: http://www.edlundart.com/pages/is-the-internet-awake.html [Accessed 6 December 2015].

Mobitelio LTDA, 2009. Zero Carbon. itunes.apple.com, MacOne. Available from: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/zero-carbon/id336848607?mt=8 [Accessed 4 December 2015].

Myfitnesspal.com, 2015. Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal. Itunes, Myfitnesspal.com. Available from: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/calorie-counter-diet-tracker/id341232718?mt=8 [Accessed 4 December 2015].

 

Livestock Industry Research

Environmental Research

Cowspiracy is an independent documentary film by Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn which manly focuses on the environmental impacts of the livestock industry (particularly the beef industry, which has the biggest impact). It discusses many of the problems that must be faced and suggests that even climate change activists such as Greenpeace are neglecting the impact of the livestock industry because of reasons such as fear of the possible repercussions of drawing focus on the problem. The film was useful in getting a broader knowledge on the consequences of meat consumption on such a large scale.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 20.05.16

Image taken from Cowspiracy.com (Animals United Movement 2014)

Annual global meat consumption (Horizon 2014)

    • 300 million cattle
    • 1.4 billion pigs
    • 1 billion sheep and goats
    • 3.5 billion ducks and turkeys
    • 60 billion chickens
    • on average 9 animals per person
    • about a third of crops goes to feeding animals

Water Supply

“The USGS estimates that it takes 4,000 to 18,000 gallons of water to produce a juicy hamburger, depending on conditions that cows are raised in. The water doesn’t go directly into your burger; rather, it is used to feed, hydrate, and service cows” (U.S. Geological Survey, 2015).

Deforestation and Land Use

“The total area occupied by grazing is equivalent to 26 percent of the ice free terrestrial surface of the planet. In addition, the total area dedicated to feedcrop production amounts to 33 percent of total arable land. In all, livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet” (Steinfeld et al. 1996, p.21).

“70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feedcrops cover a large part of the remainder” (Steinfeld et al. 1996, p.21).

Climate Change

From my research I have realised that it is still disputed how much of an impact the livestock industry has on climate change, the reasons for this are because it is hard to define what is included as part of the livestock industry, because land is required to produce grain for livestock to feed on, partly due to new laws passed after BSE and Foot and Mouth (Monbiot 2010) it is hard to estimate how much of an impact this need for land to grow crops for animals has on deforestation, which is another contributor to increased carbon in the atmosphere. Furthermore, because both industries rely heavily on transportation and the use of machinery in the agriculture industry, it is hard to determine how much the the livestock industry contributes to climate change through industry and exhaust emissions, the film Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014) claims that the livestock industry is the largest contributor of greenhouse gasses, but other information suggests otherwise.

 

meat-dairy-774-png

Public perceptions of main problems versus actual impact of each cause of climate change. Image taken from natureworldnews.com (Stallard 2014)

Methane Emissions

“a standard 550-kg cow produces between 800 to 1,000 litres of emissions, including methane, each day” (Zyga 2008).

Animals (amount of meat per animal)

As different animals contain different amounts of meat I have had to do a lot of research into how much meat each animal contains, the problem with calculating the amount of meat in a pig or cow is that there are different breeds and animals have different diets and vary in size, this makes it quite hard to find an average amount specifically for pigs and cows.

Beef

From the ‘barbecue bible’ website (Raichlen 2014) I found a useful infographic and some information on the average amount of meat each cow yields, because there are only a certain amount of types of meat in each animal (e.g. there are only a certain amount of ribs in a cow) I am trying to work the percentages of each meat item from each animal, if I measured how much meat was in an animal by weight (i.e. if a cow yields 400 pounds of meat, if measured by weight, 400 pounds of ribs would count as one cow) it wouldn’t provide an accurate representation of how many animals need to be reared to provide the specific meat products that consumers want.

CutsOfBeef-630

Image taken from Barbecuebible.com (Raichlen 2015)

angus-BeefChart

Image taken from Templetonbeef.com (Templeton Hills Beef 2015)

As can be seen there are different percentages of meat for each breed of cow, there are also a lot of different food products that can be yielded from a cow, which makes it difficult to produce accurate data.

“With a whole cow you would get 550 pounds of beef. It will be 250 pounds of ground beef, and the other 300 pounds are in cuts like steaks, roasts, ribs, brisket, tenderloin, etc.” (Clover Valley Beef 2014)

So, to summarize:  A 1200 steer, ½ inch fat, average muscling, yields a 750 pound carcass.  The 750 pound carcass yields approximately:

  • 490 pounds boneless trimmed beef
  • 150 pounds fat trim
  • 110 pounds bone

A specific example of how the 490 pounds of boneless, trimmed beef could break out includes:

  • 185 pounds lean trim, or ground beef
  • 85 pounds round roasts and steaks
  • 90 pounds chuck roasts and steaks
  • 80 pounds rib and loin steaks

· 50 pounds other cuts (brisket, flank, short ribs, skirt steak

Information taken from igrow.org (Nold 2013)

Pork

pork-chart pork_101_final_b-fixed

Images from modernfarmer.com (Birnbaum 2014) and barrerasmeat.com (Barreras Meat Company 2014)

Lamb

2000px-Lamb_Cuts_shanks

Image taken from cllocker.com (Hunt 2013)

Bibliography

Animals United Movement, 2014. Infographic. cowspiracy.com, Available from: http://www.cowspiracy.com/infographic [Accessed 6 December 2015].

Are We Changing Planet Earth?, Episode 1, Are We Changing Planet Earth?, 2006. BBC1. 24th May 2006. 21:00.

Barreras Meat Company, 2014. Pork Meats. barrerasmeat.com, Available from: http://barrerasmeat.com/project/pork-meats/ [Accessed 5 December 2015].

BBC News UK, 2010. Backpacks measure cows’ methane. BBC News, BBC. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-10765803 [Accessed 5 December 2015].

Birnbaum, M., 2014. Pork 101: Know Your Cuts. modernfarmer.com, Available from: http://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/pork-101/ [Accessed 5 December 2015].

Clover Valley Beef, 2014. Buying half a cow. How much beef is it?. clovervalleybeef.com, Available from: http://www.clovervalleybeef.com/buying-half-a-cow/ [Accessed 5 December 2015].

Cook, J., 2015. What is methane’s contribution to global warming?. skepticalscience.com, Available from: https://www.skepticalscience.com/methane-and-global-warming.htm [Accessed 5 December 2015].

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, 2014. Film. Directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. USA: A.U.M. Films.

Horizon, Episode 2, Should I Eat Meat? – How to Feed the Planet, 2014. TV, BBC. 20th August 2014. 21:00.

Hunt, S., 2013. Blog. cllocker.com, Available from: http://www.cllocker.com/blog-1 [Accessed 5 December 2015].

Monbiot, G., 2010. I was wrong about veganism. Let them eat meat – but farm it properly. theguardian.com, The Guardian. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/sep/06/meat-production-veganism-deforestation [Accessed 5 December 2015].

MuchAdoAboutClimate, 2014. How much methane does a cow actually produce?. wordpress, Available from: https://muchadoaboutclimate.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/how-much-methane-does-a-cow-actually-produce/ [Accessed 5 December 2015].

Nold, R., 2013. How Much Meat Can You Expect from a Fed Steer?. igrow, Available from: http://igrow.org/livestock/beef/how-much-meat-can-you-expect-from-a-fed-steer/ [Accessed 5 December 2015].

Scottish Environment Protection Agency, 2015. Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory. apps.sepa.org.uk, SEPA. Available from: http://apps.sepa.org.uk/spripa/Pages/SubstanceInformation.aspx?pid=65 [Accessed 5 December 2015].

Stallard, B., 2014. The Biggest Sources of Greenhouse Gas: Public Perception is Wrong. Nature World News, Available from: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/10927/20141205/biggest-sources-greenhouse-gas-public-perception-wrong.htm [Accessed 5 December 2015].

Steinfeld, H., Gerber, P., Wassenaar, T. Castel, V., Rosales, M., and Haan, C., 2006. Livestocks Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.. Rome: FAO. Available from: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e00.pdf [Accessed 6 December 2015].

Templeton Hills Beef, 2015. Grass Fed Beef from Templeton California on the Central Coast. templetonbeef.com, Available from: http://www.templetonbeef.com/ [Accessed 5 December 2015].

Raichlen, S., 2014. Big Bad Beef Ribs: A Crash Course. barbecuebible.com, Available from: http://barbecuebible.com/2014/05/23/big-bad-beef-ribs/ [Accessed 5 December 2015].

U.S. Geological Survey, 2015. How much water does it take to grow a hamburger?. http://water.usgs.gov/, USGS. Available from: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/activity-watercontent.html [Accessed 4 December 2015].

Zyga, L., 2008. Cow Backpacks Trap Methane Gas. phys.org, Available from: http://phys.org/news/2008-07-cow-backpacks-methane-gas.html [Accessed 5 December 2015].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prototype 2

The second prototype focused on the actual design of the website. Whilst creating the first prototype it became clear that using tables and generic form elements such as select buttons is not something that will make my users very enthusiastic about using the product. Whilst researching for the project I came across a good example for this on a website.

bad design 1

image taken from water.usgs.gov (U.S. Geological Survey 2015)

Above shows an image of the example I found online. The creator has made some drop down menus and a submit button. Below shows the results after the user has clicked the submit button. The code functions quite well and the creator has attempted to engage the audience by getting them to guess how much water it takes to produce certain food items, but the design is very bland and in my opinion doesn’t help to engage the audience. Especially with the second section, I find it very hard to read the writing with the default links and the way the information is presented isn’t very affective (source: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/activity-watercontent.html).

ugly design

image taken from water.usgs.gov (U.S. Geological Survey 2015)

Because my project is called The Meat Counter (because it counts meat) I came up with an idea to make the design of the website resemble that of an actual meat counter that someone might buy food from whilst shopping at their local supermarket. Te users could select the items that they eat during the week by clicking on items displayed at the meat counter. If they hovered over the items a larger image would appear in the top right. This can be seen blow.

meatcounterdesignmenu1new-01

The original intention was that the item which the mouse pointer hovered over would show a larger image and the name of the item in the top right section. When clicked on, 1 item would be added to the list, if clicked again the quantity of that item would increment. This idea caused some additional design problems however, as it meant there would be a limited amount of space in which I could fit all of the items. The other design problem was that the user might have found it irritating to click on each item. Because the images would have been so close together it they may have crossed over one another. Also, having to hover over each image to see what the name of each item is could have been irritating for the user.

I solved this problem by having sections of the meat counter, that when clicked on, opened up a separate section where the user could choose from a list of items related to that animal. Now, when the mouse pointer hovers over each section, an outline will appear around that area. When clicked on a menu will appear that contains all items related to the animal. To get rid of the window that appears, the user will simply have to click another part of the screen. The list (shopping cart) will be displayed on the top left, and the user will be able to delete items if they choose the wrong one by mistake. When the user has finished this process they will click on the calculate button similar to that of the first prototype.

meatcounterdesignmenu2

References

U.S. Geological Survey, 2015. How much water does it take to grow a hamburger?. http://water.usgs.gov/, USGS. Available from: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/activity-watercontent.html [Accessed 4 December 2015].

 

Prototype 1

For my prototype I wanted to get a good understanding of how I could use php to process data entered by users. My idea was that I would have a number of items that a user could select and after submitting that data, php would process it and convert those values into information which showed the user how much meat would need to be produced if everybody had the same diet.

As I just wanted to get a better understanding of how I would write the code for the project, I used chicken as my example, as it is much easier to calculate how many chicken legs there are in a chicken than it is to find out how many steaks there are in a cow (which is something I will inevitably have to do, and have started to research).

index

The page shown above allows the user to enter in the meat they eat, once they have entered the meat they eat (it’s supposed to be during the week), they hit the “calculate” button.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 13.58.11

After the user has clicked the calculate button, the data is shown in a table. The quantity is added up to how many animals that amounts to (there are 2 chicken legs on a chicken so therefore 6 chicken legs make up 3 chickens.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 17.55.51

After that I created a simple variable which calculated the total multiplied by 7 billion, which would show the user how many chickens it would take to feed everybody if the entire world ate the same amount each week.