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Spark - Digi-minimalism, Telepresence, and TwinfluenceDec 19, 2010 | 54:00Spark Digi-minimalism, Telepresence, and Twinfluence Audio
Spark Digi-minimalism, Telepresence, and Twinfluence Dec 19, 2010 | 54:00(Spark 131): So you'd think that prolific celebrity tweeters like Ashton Kutcher or Alyssa Milano would have the power to make change. Surely, if they tweeted something about a book they read or a cause they supported, sales or donations would see a spike, right? Not necessarily so. Nora spoke to our favourite high profile blogger Anil Dash about the relationship between numbers and influence in social media. And his Twitter following is not too shabby either.Doom, the Sims, or even a flight simulator-- many of us have maneuvered through a computer-animated 3D environment before. But what if that environment used actual images of a place that really exists -- and was so realistic looking, it's like you're there? That's exactly what a team of professors and students at the University of Ottawa is trying to do. Nora spoke with freelance journalist Meg Wilcox about the project. Ok so we all have that friend that is constantly snapping pictures on her smart phone. Or that parent that has a camera in his hand at all times, ready to take a snapshot of every new expression his newborn baby makes. You may find their behaviour extreme, but what if there was a way to have a photo taken every minute of your every day for an entire year? Meet Wafaa Bilal. He's a visual artist, and a photography professor at New York University. And recently, he had a small digital camera implanted in the back of his head. Really. Nora spoke with him to find out why. Stuff. We've got a lot of it. And the holiday season means we're going to get a whole lot more. What would happen if you got rid of most of your stuff, really paired down to the essentials, and put everything you could on your digital devices? Nora spoke with Kelly Sutton, a man with a spartan lifestyle that depends on digital storage. In the other corner, Nora spoke with Spark contributor Cathi Bond about the joys of tangible media. Many more of us are saying yes to the idea of streamlining and digi-minimizing, but along with that comes storage issues. That's why the big buzz word of the moment is CLOUD. Cloud computing has been around a long time, but the idea of having this global hard drive that stores all your data so you don't have to worry about it on your own devices...well that's got people really excited. The new Google Chrome OS even depends entirely on the concept. But some caution that what you gain in ease and simplicity, you lose in control, and security. Nora spoke with Eyal deLara, an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto about the pros and cons of the cloud.
Spark - 2010 Best of SparkDec 12, 2010 | 54:00Spark 2010 Best of Spark Audio
Spark 2010 Best of Spark Dec 12, 2010 | 54:00We often talk about the world of work on Spark, and specifically how that world is changing. Daniel Pink has thought so much about it that he's written four books on the subject, including his latest Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Nora spoke with Daniel about the ways we are motivated to be better performers, and the answer just may surprise you! Gary Shteyngart's new novel is called Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel, and it's been making waves since it hit bookshelves back in July. It tells the story of two people who fall in love in a near-future New York, where the wealthy get nano-technology treatments to avoid aging, the US economy has collapsed and is tottering under war, class struggle, and a one- party state. And, it's a comedy, with lots of satirical, dystopian, and hilarious things to say about contemporary techno-culture. How would you like to simply think, "Where's my dentist from here?" and have the directions show up on your mobile? Maybe you'd like to slip to your appointment unnoticed thanks to your invisibility cloak. And just to make sure you don't forget your appointment in the first place, you've already been injected with nano-computers that will do your remembering for you. This future might not be as distant as we think. Isabel Pedersen is a Communications professor at Ryerson University who studies what she calls reality-shifting devices. She spoke with Nora about her concern that we're not taking the time to consider the human implications of such technologies before we accept them as fact. There's an old saying: "Don't talk to strangers!" But what about following them on Twitter? Well in Joel Johnson's experience, there can be real advantages to following complete strangers online. In addition to Joel, Nora also spoke with Jonah Lehrer, who believes that following strangers on Twitter can expand our creative potential, an idea that's been researched by Charlan Nemeth, who studies the role of dissent in creativity and thought. Her research suggests that simply by being exposed to minority dissenting viewpoints (whether we believe them or not) improves our creativity.
Spark - Super Angels and Startups with Boris Wertz (Full interview)Dec 7, 2010 | 18:55Spark Super Angels and Startups with Boris Wertz (Full interview) Audio
Spark Super Angels and Startups with Boris Wertz (Full interview) Dec 7, 2010 | 18:55Vancouver's Boris Wertz is in Toronto for the Canadian Innovation Exchange forum today. Boris is CEO, W Media Ventures, and what's called a "super angel" investor. He specializes in finding consumer-oriented, Internet startups to invest in, and he has a history as an entrepreneur himself. What do venture capitalists and angel investors look for in tech startups?
Spark - The Web Turns 20, African e-Commerce, and Libellous LinkingDec 5, 2010 | 54:00Spark The Web Turns 20, African e-Commerce, and Libellous Linking Audio
Spark The Web Turns 20, African e-Commerce, and Libellous Linking Dec 5, 2010 | 54:00(Spark 130): So we've done a lot of talking on Spark about being cautious about the things we say online. We know we need to be careful about things we say on our personal blogs, on Facebook, or on Twitter. But have you ever thought about the implications of simply linking to something someone else said? What if what they said was libel? This coming week, a defamation case is before the Supreme Court of Canada that could change everything. Nora spoke with David Fewer (yes, we like him so much he's on the show two weeks in a row!), the director of CIPPIC: The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. This month it's the 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web. And it goes without saying that links are an essential part of the Web - they are the foundation it's built on so that, in the words of Tim Berners-Lee "any person could share information with anyone else, anywhere". The power to link has made the Web a place of incredible innovation. But 20 years later, are we on the cusp of a decline in innovation? Columbia Law professor, Tim Wu (who coined the term Net Neutrality, dontcha know) has just written a book called The Master Switch about the cycle of innovation and its decline in information industries, from radio to the Internet. He was in Toronto recently, so Nora cornered him on what it is about the Web that made it a hotbed of innovation. We're not done celebrating yet! 20 years ago the World Wide Web consisted of one web site and one browser. And both were on the same computer, that of Tim Berners-Lee. It wasn't long before the Web took over the world! To mark the occasion, we decided to find a 20 year old who could compare her own life story to some big milestones for the Web. Well, Kori Shearstone, (and you too World Wide Web) - this is your life! There are a lot of digital conveniences we take for granted in the Western world. Ok, let's be honest and say we take most of them for granted. If we want something -anything- it is available at our fingertips. So what's it like in places where the infrastructure still doesn't exist to make those digital conveniences viable? Femi Akinde is the founder and CEO of Slimtrader, a company that is looking to change the way people in sub-Saharan Africa do business...all through their cell phones. When you hear the phrase "refugee camp" you're certain to have an image in your head of what it would be like to be in one. You wouldn't necessarily imagine it to be a place where technology and innovation thrived. But we were surprised to hear that the penetration of ICT's (information and communication technologies) in refugee camps is quite high, and on the rise. Nora spoke with Jackie Strecker, an intern with the Peace Conflict & Development Group at IDRC about what she saw the two times she visited the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. These days, becoming a new country is about more than flags and territory. Having digital sovereignty is crucial. And yet many newly-formed countries, like Kosovo, are struggling to have digital recognition. You might recall that the little Balkan country declared independence from Serbia back in 2008. Although seventy-one countries including Canada and most of the developed world, acknowledge Kosovo, it hasn't had much luck in establishing itself as an e-state. Nora spoke with Spark contributor Nate Tabak, a freelance journalist based in Pristina to figure out why Kosovo is in an electronic grey zone.
Spark - Female Start-ups, Family Trees, and CopyrightNov 28, 2010 | 54:00Spark Female Start-ups, Family Trees, and Copyright Audio
Spark Female Start-ups, Family Trees, and Copyright Nov 28, 2010 | 54:00(Spark 129): Canada is taking yet another crack at updating its copyright laws. Bill C-32 is in committee for amendments before going to its third and final reading. The law is badly in need of some updates. And for something that doesn't sound all that--um--sexy, copyright reform has been very contentious. To see why, we need to have a little Spark story time. James Boyle is our storyteller. He is a law professor at Duke University and author of The Public Domain. He's spent a lot of time looking at copyright, and how to balance the rights of copyright holders with the rights of citizens and the broader public interest. So, let's settle down and let James weave a tale. It's called A Brief History of Copyright. So basically, for the last 300 years, we've been engaged in this repetitive cycle, trying to negotiate amongst different interests as the technology of copying changes and changes. Trying to weigh creators' rights, distributors rights and the collective benefits of access to information. But why does copyright matter to you and me? Do we really need to care about this? Nora spoke with David Fewer, director of The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. He thinks that although it may not seem that exciting, Bill C-32 affects us all. From copyright's new frontiers in the digital age, to another tradition that has been massively affected by information technology - the family tree. Many of the records that used to reside in dusty, old cabinets in never-visited lands are now online. As a result, geneaology has never been more do it yourself. Nora spoke with Jon Kalish, Spark's guide to the D-I-Y world, about one man's tale of charting his family tree online and in the process bringing the Twersky's of the world together. A little while ago we came across something on the web titled Women Don't Want to Run Startups Because They'd Rather Have Children. It was written by Penelope Trunk, the founder of three startups, an author, a blogger, and a mom. In her post, Penelope tries to figure out why female entrepreneurs are still such a minority in the world of venture-backed tech startups. Nora spoke with Penelope about her controversial blog, but first, we hear The Story of Suzie Startup. So we've heard the argument that men and women are just different, and that the reason there are so few women at the head of venture-backed tech startups is that women just have different priorities. Well Vivek Wadhwa begs to differ. He's a a researcher who divides his time between three universities: Duke, Harvard, and Berkeley and earlier this year, he co-authored a paper called Are Successful Women Entrepreneurs Different from Men? Nora spoke with him to find out. At Spark we've talked quite a bit about the dearth of women entering the field of computer science. Even though we live in this highly tech-savvy universe, the enrollment numbers are actually decreasing. So Nora called up Wendy Powley at the School of Computing at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario to find out more about the situation in Canada.
Spark - Noise, Filters, and BirdsongNov 21, 2010 | 54:00Spark Noise, Filters, and Birdsong Audio
Spark Noise, Filters, and Birdsong Nov 21, 2010 | 54:00(Spark 128): Is it noisy around you, right now, as you're reading this? When was the last time you think you actually sat in silence? Real silence. We can't remember when! Each week as we put Spark together we are subjected to a constant barrage of construction sounds from a building going up beside us. It makes us tired, jumpy, and Nora has to wear earplugs most days. Noise pollution is on the rise, and experts say ambient noise is doubling every ten years. Nora spoke with Julian Treasure, author of the book Sound Business, on how things like birdsong and silence can help temper the effect of the noise all around us. So, there's noise, lots of it, all around us every day and it's having a huge effect on our health and happiness. But what about that other kind of noise? You know, the steady stream of information coming at you from all directions - calls, emails, alerts, texts, tweets, status updates, links - often all through your mobile phone. Nora spoke with Kate Crawford, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney who thinks the mobile phone has become a major source of noise and information overload. Ever get a computer generated music recommendation that made you say "huh"? You know, something along the lines of "If you like The Black Keys you'll love The Monkeys!". Music recommenders are just a part of life right now, whether they make sense or not, and more and more people's tastes are being curated by algorithms rather than flesh-and-blood people. Brian Whitman is the co-founder and CTO of The Echonest Corporation, a music intelligence company that writes music recommending software. But when Nora spoke to him, she learned that he's not really a fan of the technology. Last week we had novelist William Gibson on Spark to talk about his latest book Zero History. He had so much to say about, well, so many things that we thought we'd include him this week too. Gibson sees social media tools like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter as restrictive and gated, with too many filters compared to the public spaces of the internet of yore. We are preoccupied with noise and filters here on Spark. So let's talk spam (the annoying digital kind, not the supermarket variety), because if there was ever an argument for why we need filters, spam is it! Spam filters have become an essential tool to keep all those questionable requests for shady products and services out of your email inbox. But are those filters really the best way to stop them? What about fighting the source? Nora spoke with Finn Brunton, a post-doctoral researcher at New York University who is writing a book about spam.
Spark - William Gibson, Lumberjack Chic, and the Last IP AddressNov 14, 2010 | 54:00Spark William Gibson, Lumberjack Chic, and the Last IP Address Audio
Spark William Gibson, Lumberjack Chic, and the Last IP Address Nov 14, 2010 | 54:00(Spark 127): Way back in the early days of the internet, engineers had to come up with a number for how many IP addresses we would need. It was more or less a case of one IP address for every computer, so they picked a number they thought was big enough. Well, that number is about to run out. With so many digital devices these days, any one person could need 3 or 4 or more IP addresses. So they're disappearing. Fast. So what does that mean for us? Spark producer Dan Misener goes deep into the bowels of the internet to find out. We've been talking a lot lately about who we are online and how that affects who we are at work. Now that most of us have a personal on-line presence, businesses have to manage the legal risks of social media, and that's why social media guidelines are being adopted by almost every firm, business, organization, and institution there is. As well as keeping a watchful eye on what employees are saying and doing out in the world, many organizations also recognize the value of social media as a tool - for marketing and outreach. In both cases, the result is a set of restrictions for what employees should -and shouldn't- say on-line. So what does this mean for the individual? Does the idea of "free" speech still exist in a world where our personal and professional on-line selves are more and more combined? Nora speaks with Vanessa Grant is a Business Law Partner at McCarthy Tétrault, one of the leaders in Technology Law in Canada. At the heart of the issue of social media use and our blurred private and professional selves is one thing: context. You know, how a photo of you drinking at a party could be OK in one context, but not in another. It's context that poses the challenge of how we are now thinking about privacy. And that's why Nora spoke with Helen Nissenbaum. She teaches in the department of Media, Culture, and Communications at New York University, and she's written a book called Privacy in Context. It seems like everywhere we look lately, someone is rocking a trendy retro item from Canada's past. Have you noticed it too? It's cool to wear a retro toque, drink beer from a stubby, have a moose-pattern chair, eat a $5 gourmet butter tart. Nostalgia for Canadiana seems to be growing in design and marketing. The aesthetic of wildlife, camping, canoes, and maple leafs can be found on everything from plates to clothing to wallpaper. Some people have even dubbed it "lumberjack chic". So what's going on? Nora spoke with design consultant Todd Falkowsky to find out. He's credited with coining the term "cyberspace", and predicting and conceptualizing all kinds of things before they actually came about, including the world wide web, virtual games, virtual sex, and reality television. More than just a science fiction writer, William Gibson is considered an icon and a visionary who elevated science fiction to another level, and whose influence has permeated popular culture. He spoke to Nora about his latest book, Zero History, a story about the underground world of luxury goods. In the past several months, we've heard a lot about a rash of teen suicides in the U.S brought on by bullying and homophobia. These suicides have really made people snap into action, especially on the web, where campaigns like It Gets Better have taken off. For LGBT youth (that's Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender), the internet is really the only safe place to get accurate information and support. And for those in rural areas it can be a beacon of hope...that is, if they can get access. Nora spoke with Andrea Chiu about why the internet plays such a crucial role for LGBT youth.
Spark - Games, Games, Games!Nov 7, 2010 | 54:00Spark Games, Games, Games! Audio
Spark Games, Games, Games! Nov 7, 2010 | 54:00On this episode of Spark we take a look at how games affect our culture, our time, and our lives.
Spark - Brain Tweets, Better Buses, and PaperOct 31, 2010 | 54:00Spark Brain Tweets, Better Buses, and Paper Audio
Spark Brain Tweets, Better Buses, and Paper Oct 31, 2010 | 54:00(Spark 125): Dustin Freeman on digital devices that act like paper. Olivier Thereaux and Mark Miller on building better bus systems. The Dalai Lama on how technology effects our happiness. Baratunde Thurston on the merits of email lists. Austin Serafin on the blind using iPhones. And Sonya Buyting on the latest in mind-computer interfaces.
Spark - Reality-shifting Devices with Isabel Pedersen (Full interview)Oct 24, 2010 | 18:34Spark Reality-shifting Devices with Isabel Pedersen (Full interview) Audio
Spark Reality-shifting Devices with Isabel Pedersen (Full interview) Oct 24, 2010 | 18:34This summer on the Spark podcast we're playing extended versions of some of our favourite interviews from the past season. This week, Nora's full interview with Isabel Pedersen. Isabel is a Communications professor at Ryerson University who studies "reality-shifting devices."
Spark - Personalization, Perfect Playlists, and PrivacyOct 10, 2010 | 54:00Spark Personalization, Perfect Playlists, and Privacy Audio
Spark Personalization, Perfect Playlists, and Privacy Oct 10, 2010 | 54:00(Spark 123): Cyrus Farviar on the privacy issue in Germany over Google Street View. A look at Google Street View and how it has become a way for us to connect with our past. Paul LaMere and Bill Goldsmith on making the perfect playlist can a computer do a better job
Spark - Bits, Tools, and Digital TVOct 3, 2010 | 54:00Spark Bits, Tools, and Digital TV Audio
Spark Bits, Tools, and Digital TV Oct 3, 2010 | 54:00(Spark 122): Here in Canada, we're less than one year away from the digital television transition. After August 31, 2011, most Canadians will no longer receive analog television transmissions over the air. So if you have an older set, and you use an antenna to watch TV, pay attention. Digital television promises better picture and sound, the capacity for additional programming, and a more efficient use of the wireless spectrum. An estimated 1 million Canadians will be affected by the change. But are Canadians ready for this switch? And is the move to digital even worth it? To discuss this, Nora spoke with Michael Geist and Bill St. Arnaud. We've been thinking about "tools on tools", specifically, online tools built on top of one another - foundational tools, tools that don't work without the building blocks they're created on. Think about something like Flipboard which turns your friends' social media news into a lovely magazine format for the iPad, or all those quizzes and games 3rd parties develop which are designed to be used within the world of Facebook. Neat technologies, which nonetheless are tied to a bigger technology. We think this is a real trend. One that we've already seen the downside to: For several hours on September 23rd, Facebook went down, and people couldn't access their accounts. And because they couldn't access their Facebook accounts, all those tools built on top of Facebook were down too. And that's why Nora spoke with Jer Thorp. He's a digital artist, and educator from Vancouver, and currently "data artist in residence" at the R&D labs of the New York Times. A little while ago we came across a video on YouTube of an amazing but strange cover version of the classic B-52s song "Rock Lobster". Except it isn't played by humans. It's a band assembled entirely from old computer parts and found electronics. All automated. All live. No human playing, and no editing or effects. "They" are The Bit-52's - "The World's Greatest Parts Band." We wanted to see the man behind the curtain, and it turns out he was in the Spark neighbourhood. Here is what we found when we went to the house of James Cochrane in Toronto. Ah, the public domain. Music and art no longer covered by intellectual property rights. Free for you and me on the internet! Nora has been watching a ton of public domain movies lately, and it got her thinking about whether our portable devices are fueling a new enthusiasm for classic, public domain art. Ever think about how you relate to your computer? Say, when it doesn't do what you want it to - do you yell at it, like it's a person? Clifford Nass is a professor at Stanford who looks at how humans interact with computers. He also studies how humans relate to each other. It's fascinating research. He's also the author of a new book The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach us About Human Relationships.
Spark - Blooks, Co-creation, and Twitter StrangersSep 26, 2010 | 54:00Spark Blooks, Co-creation, and Twitter Strangers Audio
Spark Blooks, Co-creation, and Twitter Strangers Sep 26, 2010 | 54:00(Spark 121): There's an old saying: "Don't talk to strangers!" But what about following them on Twitter? According to Joel Johnson there can be real advantages to following complete strangers online. He tells Nora the story of how he decided to follow someone on Twitter who was a complete stranger, and had rewarding results. Beyond the joy of discovery, there may be other advantages. Nora also spoke with's Jonah Lehrer, who believes that following strangers on Twitter can expand our creative potential, an idea that's been researched by Charlan Nemeth, who studies the role of dissent in creativity and thought. Her research suggests that simply by being exposed to minority dissenting viewpoints (whether we believe them or not) improves our creativity. Earlier this month a small black book came across our desks. It was called Four Word Film Reviews and it's a collection of just that: four word film reviews. But before it was a book, it was a blog. It's a trend we've been seeing a lot lately - it seems like the hot thing to do in publishing right now is print out the Internet. There's even a hot name for it - "blooks". But why would anyone bother to turn their blog in to a book? Nora spoke to Michael Onesi, one of the co-writers of Four Word Film Reviews about the allure of going from part-time blogger to big-time book deal. And then she spoke with Tim Carmody, a literary historian, a blogger, and a self-described "Book Futurist" about his thoughts on the trend. The advent of digital photography has made us all really great photographers, hasn't it? It gives us the ability to shoot and shoot and shoot until we get the perfect shot. And so, we do. We do so much, that we have hard drives, USB keys and memory cards filled with hundreds and hundreds and thousands of photos. With every moment so thoroughly documented, will photographic memories even mean anything? One way to get out of your own echo chamber is through online collaboration: the kind of non-hierarchical, open, mass co-creation that happens at a site like Wikipedia. And there's been lots of speculation about how broadly you could use decentralized collaboration like that in our networked world. Author and tech and business guru Don Tapscott, had a name for it: Wikinomics. In that 2007 book, he talked about how open, networked 'wiki' principles could apply to the hard-nosed world of business. In his new book, MacroWikinomics, Don envisions it in everything from the financial industry, to education, health care, and transportation. Not everyone thinks co-creation is the greatest way to level the playing field. Lately an open letter has been making the rounds online. It's written by a guy named Brian, and he throws a little cold water on the whole collaboration idea, at least when it comes to advertising and marketing. It's hilarious, and makes a point. It also turns out it was written on the blog of an independent creative agency out of London, UK. But the advertising sector is one of the areas where people have been using the principles of crowdsourcing and co-creation in really noticeable ways. Victors and Spoils launched less than a year ago. It is the world's first ad agency built on crowdsourcing principles. Nora spoke with John Winsor, who says what they do at Victors and Spoils is try to help the client shape the creative process as much as possible.
Spark - Cyborgs, Digital Sabbaths, and Super Sad True LoveSep 19, 2010 | 54:01Spark Cyborgs, Digital Sabbaths, and Super Sad True Love Audio
Spark Cyborgs, Digital Sabbaths, and Super Sad True Love Sep 19, 2010 | 54:01(Spark 120): Gary Shteyngart's new novel is called Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel, and it's been getting great reviews and making waves since it hit the bookshelves back in July. It tells the story of Lenny, a 39 year-old worried about his looks and health in a relentlessly youth-oriented culture, who falls hard for 24 year-old Eunice Park. They fall in love in a near-future New York, where the wealthy get nano-technology treatments to avoid aging, the US economy has collapsed and is tottering under war, class struggle, and a one- party state. And, it's a comedy, with lots of satirical, dystopian, and hilarious things to say about contemporary techno-culture. Ever thought of just taking a break from the constant stream of Twitter updates, emails, news feeds, and texts? Like, really really take a break and turning off all your gadgets and living tech-free for a full day. It's an idea that's come up a lot lately, as more people find the benefits behind unplugging. There are websites like dedicated to promoting the idea of taking "Offline Sabbath" days, or planning "No-device dinners" one day a week. Peter Rukavina has a new e-book reader. No, it's not an iPad, or a Kindle. It's not a Kobo, or a Sony Reader. Rather, Peter's new ebook reader is a human being named Shawn, who prints out Peter's books on paper. Nora spoke with Peter about combining the best of ebooks and the best of printed books. If you're like us, as you're walking around a typical downtown street in North America, you'll notice Cyborgs, everywhere! People with cell phones constantly attached to their ears, or with iPads that tell them exactly where they are and navigating where they're going next. Or what about people with pacemakers, or hearing aids or eyeglasses? All examples of the fusion of the human and the technological. Turns out the term 'cyborg' goes back to the days of the Space Race. And this month--September 2010--is the 50th anniversary of the coining of the term Cyborg! Nora speaks with Tim Maly, who writes and edits Quiet Babylon, a website about cyborgs and architects. Freelance journalist Sarah Bridge brings Spark a look at the intersection of medical technology and the deeply emotional experiences it can bring. In Sarah Bridge's family, an incredibly high number of women have had breast cancer -- four out of five of her grandfather's sisters, for example. And in her mother's generation, the disease continues to spread. As medical technology has advanced, tests for a genetic predisposition have become possible. But these tests have opened a pandora's box of questions for the women in Sarah's family.
Spark - Big Books, Micro-volunteering, and Search Engine MisnomersSep 12, 2010 | 54:00Spark Big Books, Micro-volunteering, and Search Engine Misnomers Audio
Spark Big Books, Micro-volunteering, and Search Engine Misnomers Sep 12, 2010 | 54:00(Spark 119): There is a lot of controversy about a proposed mosque at Ground Zero in New York City. But here's the thing: it's not a mosque at Ground Zero. Rather, it's an Islamic Center that includes a pool, community rooms, and offices. And the proposed site isn't Ground Zero. It is in Lower Manhattan, but it's two blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood. That didn't stop newspapers and other online media from calling it the "Ground Zero Mosque." And once those media sites were indexed by Google, it became that much more difficult to correct the record. Nora spoke to Kelly McBride from the Poynter Institute. She teaches media ethics there, and has been looking at the "Ground Zero Mosque" example and what it means for online journalism. Is it just us or are books getting bigger and bigger these days? Many of the current best sellers are clocking in at 800 to 1,000 pages long! Enough to put a good kink in your shoulder if you're carrying it around, unless of course, you've got a handy new e-reader. Nora spoke with Spark contributor Hannah Classen about the link between digital technology and today's big, fat, books. How did you spend your summer vacation? Unwinding with a big, juicy electronic page turner? Or maybe summer is more about getting away from it all...including your digital tools and toys. And what better way to do that than a good ole camping trip. Well this summer, many provincial parks in Canada experimented with having Wifi in the campground. It's a trend that's been growing across North America as many campers want to answer the call of the wild...but be able to answer their email as well. Spark contributor Cesil Fernandes wrestled that question to the mat on a recent family camping trip. Borrowing the proverbial cup of sugar from your neighbour has always come with its challenges. These days, we're so mobile we might not know our neighbours enough to knock on their door and ask. But what if you could just log on to a website, and "meet" the people in your neighbourhood by borrowing their stuff? And with the Web, information that used to be hard to find out--who has what? Is someone else using it? Is now transparent. To learn more about this trend, Nora talked to Micki Krimmel, founder of You've probably felt this way before. You'd like to volunteer...give back to the community. But where do you find the time? Well you can 'micro' volunteer mere minutes at a time thanks to new online tools. Micro-volunteering works by taking massive charitable tasks and breaking them into tiny parts. Parts so small that you could help by participating for as little as under a minute, so you can fit it into your busy day. First, we heard from Jacob Colker, one of the founders of a micro-volunteering site called The Extraordinaries. Then, Nora spoke with Dave Rand, an evolutionary biologist with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, all about micro-volunteering and its potential.

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