Spark 119 - September 12 & 15, 2010

On this episode of Spark: Big Books, Micro-volunteering, and Search Engine Misnomers. To listen to the whole show, download the MP3 (runs 54:00).

"Ground Zero Mosque" and SEO


CC photo by SpecialKRB

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. (Runs 9:09)

Big Books


CC photo by Wonderlane

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. FYI - Hannah's also the web producer for CBC Books, where you can find all kinds of book-related goodies including the CBC Book Club. All this month, they're talking about reading in the digital age. Head over to join in the fun. But first, listen here to Nora and Hannah's conversation (Runs 6:24)

Camping Without Technology


CC photo by BlackburnPhoto

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. (Runs 7:21)



CC photo by L. Marie

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 (Runs 10:51)



CC photo by dheuer

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. (Runs 15:14)

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