On this episode of Spark: Farm Bots, Shifting Reality, and Life Logging. To listen to the whole show, download the MP3 (runs 54:00).
A lot of us spend a huge portion of our day on-line. But what if you could track your behaviour on-line, to see what media you're actually consuming, and what you're really spending your time doing! Inspired by a blog post by Ethan Zuckerman, Nora decided to do just this. Ethan is a researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Ethan is committed to finding ways to expand our exposure to news and opinion from different parts of the world. He takes this idea so seriously, that he recently started an experiment: he's using a whole set of handy tech tools to monitor how he consumes media online. Nora spoke to Ethan, and to Ian Kerr, the Canada Research Chair in Law, Ethics and Technology at the University of Ottawa, about this movement in recording personal data. (Runs 14:45)
How would you like to simply think, "Where's my dentist from here?" and have the directions show up on your handheld? 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. (Runs 8:40)
There's a digital revolution taking shape on the Prairies. Right now, researchers in the Robotics Lab at the College of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan are developing robots able to search out weeds with their "eyes" and pull them out with their robotic arms. It's great for the future of farming, and the future of gardening! Can't you just imagine sitting back on a patio chair while a little robo-weeder does the job on your backyard? Nora spoke to the CBC's Sean Prpick about how close to reality robo farming is. (Runs 8:50)
Most of us with even some on-line presence have some personal data we wish wasn't out there in the wilds of the internet. Embarrassing photos, comments, tweets, the kind of things we'd really hope no one could use against us, especially in say, something like a hiring process. Well, it actually happens all the time. It's called "Social Media Screening" - employers hire specialized companies to screen potential job applicants by looking at what they do on sites like Facebook or Linkedin. Nora spoke to Max Drucker of Social Intelligence, one of those specialized companies. (Runs 6:03)
We've talked a lot this episode about what happens to this record of our lives that is continually building on-line. The content of what we say on-line reveals a lot about us. But have you ever thought about what the pattern of what you say reveals? Think about your work, and what could be found out by analyzing the patterns of communication amongst your team. A person who thinks a lot about this is Valdis Krebs. Valdis is an expert on network analysis and network weaving. He's the Founder, and Chief Scientist, at orgnet.com and he developed software to map and measure networks and relationships in organizations. Here is Nora's conversation with him.(Runs 10:46)