Zadi Diaz briefs the videoblogosphere about World Without Oil on JetSetShow (now Epic-Fu), May 2007.


The World Without Oil project, explained


It's a "what if?" game.
What if there was an oil crisis?

At heart WWO is very simple. What if an oil crisis started on April 30, 2007 - what would happen? How would the lives of ordinary people change? Let's play "what if?" and find out.

To play, you help visualize what would be
happening, if the oil crisis were really going on

Because an oil crisis has deep and subtle effects, we asked everyone to help us imagine what an oil crisis would really be like. That's how people played the game - first they read the official news and what other players were saying. Then they told the story of how a shortfall of oil was affecting their own lives, and what they were doing to cope. (They're the experts on this subject.) And then, as the crisis continued, they updated us with further thoughts, reactions and solutions.

People told their stories online, in blogs,
videos, images – even emails and voicemails.
WWO linked to what they had created

People could use whatever communication method they were comfortable with. They told WWO where the story was, and the people at WWO looked at the story and created a link to it on the WWO site. The best stories appear at the top of each week's group of story links.

As the stories accumulate, they
gather power and veracity

WWO benefited from "the wisdom of crowds" - as more and more people examine a subject, they tend to cause more truthful and insightful ideas to rise to the top. Plus the multiplicity of viewpoints tends to reveal aspects to the subject that even experts might overlook.

What was the result?

Over 1900 people signed up as players of World Without Oil, and submitted over 1500 stories from inside the "global oil crisis of 2007." Their work comprises a rich, complex, and eerily plausible collective imagining of such an event, complete with practical courses of action to help prevent such an event from actually happening.

For these people and over 50,000 active observers, the process of collectively imagining and collaboratively chronicling the oil shock brought strong insight about oil dependency and energy policy. More than mere "raising awareness," WWO made the issues real, and this in turn led to real engagement and real change in people's lives.

The game ended after 32 days, on June 1, 2007. Since then, the site has averaged over 6000 unique visitors a month, and continues to generate press and comment worldwide.

Now that it's over, how can I
experience the World Without Oil?

Our archive has preserved each home page as it appeared during the 32 weeks of the oil crisis simulation. You can get into the game and use the WWO "Time Machine" to call up any of these weeks. The official story for that week will be headlined in the upper center right; the stack of blocks to the left, under the dark blue panel, link to the player stories for that week. (The stories that the WWO team judged to be best will be at the top of the stack.) Clicking on a story block will take you to that story, usually posted by the player somewhere on the web.